Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rainy Lake 6.23.09

With a full day to devote to a climb and the weather cooperating I was looking forward all week to something longish. I was hoping to summit Preacher Mt. high above the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie. I was dismayed to see the road closed sign still up. I knew it was open on the weekend but I was worried that it may have been closed during the week for further road work. I thankfully passed an open gate and had no issues reaching the massive Middle Fork parking lot. I had been to Rainy Lake many years ago so I had a rough idea of the route. I had read 1k's recent report so I knew the crossing of Rainy Creek had changed. I had no issues getting across, it is important to know the crossing is upstream from the convulence with the Middle Fork. The area is braided so many of the channels can be stepped over. Once across I was concerned about finding the trail right away which was a non issue because the trail parallels the creek for the first few hundred feet. The trai itself was easy to follow until it reaches an area of substantial blowdowns but it is so heavily flagged that the lack of tread was no issue. Of late I have been struggling with both my mental state and fitness level and today was even worse. For the lower portions of the trail it felt as if I had my emergency brake firmly locked. With such a long ways to go I knew my pace jeapordized my goal for the day. I kept plugging away and found that once I reached the steeper finish my legs reacted well. I hadn't bothered to set my altimeter so I was surprised when the trail started to descend to the lake. It sure is nice when the surprise is on the side of lessening the amount of climb needed. The lake is still mostly frozen and seems much smaller that it appears on the map. I really didn't make much of attempt to try to talk myself into continuing. I had planned on crossing the outlet and using the subtle ridge to reach the more benign upper slopes. From my vantage point it appears the traverse to Little Rainy Lake is on easy snow slopes. From Little Rainy it appears to be an easy finish. I was intrigued with the snow filled gulley leading in a more direct line. I know some have used this for their approach but I couldn't quite see how the gulley ends. I guess with all the extra time I had I should have explored more. I had a leisurely lunch while batting the infestation of gnats. The descent took longer than I would have liked because it it quite slippery. About half way down I ran into 1K and we chatted for quite some time. It was sure nice to see someone from NWHikers. It is a truly a rare occurence for me. For the most part I enjoyed the Rainy Lake "trail". It does pass through some majestic trees. There are plenty of these monster trees down on the ground to contend with. For you history buffs there is a nice plaque on a rock near the campsites. I found it difficult to read what it said because it is in poor shape.

Approx 9 miles 3000' of climb 7 hours car to car

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