Taking advantage of a break in the string of rainy days, we decided to repeat Now I Fly's Bandera direct route but turn it into a loop. It was an absolutely beautiful day to be out and the snow conditions (or lack of it) made it easier and safe. The lower section that gets more sun exposure was mostly melted out and the upper part had firm snow that was great for booting up. We used snow shoes for the last 1000' up and almost all the way down.
I was surprised when I first read Brian's report about the lack of brush in the understory, either in the second growth or the old growth higher up, but that's absolutely true. Maybe higher up where there was more snow the brush was covered, so I don't know about that. The other surprising thing is how evenly graded the route is -- pretty much a steady climb all the way up with no obstacles.
Stats: 6.8 miles, 3630' up, 3820' down
We used a car shuttle to start at Exit 45 and end at Exit 42. The road at Exit 45 was completely snowed in so we starting hiking from the exit. We cut a switchback up to the Talalpus trailhead road but then just kept going straight up.
We started out on snowshoes at Exit 45 because the cold air at the valley bottom had kept snow around. As we climbed the snow thinned out and eventually we took off the snowshoes for a long time.
This crunchy snow cover under the canopy was excellent for booting up the slope
Continuing to boot up the excellent snow as we near the timberline
The skyline is the bottom of Hi Valley where the grade eases up a lot. This section was pretty steep but the snow was great for snowshoes.
Entering Hi Valley. That name is on most maps for a wide high valley that is almost all talus rock, under the snow. We are at the bottom of it now and 600' from the true Bandera summit.
The final push to the summit at left
Brian on top
View back to the true Bandera summit where we just came from. It's the bump on the left, even though it looks lower than the right one.
Running the ridge to the false Bandera summit
Descending the north ridge of (false) Bandera so we can return by going around Mason Lake
Beautiful forest near Mason Lake
Crossing the boulder field below the headwall in Mason Creek vallley. Putrid Pete's Peak above.
Thinned forest below the Ira Spring trail near the first switchback. This area was logged in 2022 as part of the Hanson Creek Vegetation Project.
Forest opening logged in 2022 as part of the Hanson Creek Vegetation Project.
The group logging the forest just west of here marked the unofficial trail because people were wandering into the logging area on the temporary road put in to get the timber out.
Temporary road put in to log this unit. Mason Creek is in the foreground. While it was being logged there was a bridge over the creek, but then it was pulled out.
The right side in the illustration below is a recent satellite image of the area around Exit 42. The Mason Creek unit was part of the Hansen Creek Vegetation Project and was logged in 2022. The easternmost opening (aka small clearcut) is very close to the unofficial trail up from Exit 42. It appears that all the forest openings (cross-hatch on the map) were done according to plan. The rest of the unit (yellow shading) was thinned.
You cannot post new topics in this forum You cannot reply to topics in this forum You cannot edit your posts in this forum You cannot delete your posts in this forum You cannot vote in polls in this forum
Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate NWHikers.net earns from qualifying purchases when you use our link(s).