Vital StatsAlta Peak
12 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain 3400 ft.
There is no better time to spend Labor Day than with a bunch of friends in the mountains. Alta Mountain was the perfect peak to do it. Though the total trip is 12 miles roundtrip, the elevation gain is maybe 3500 feet and hike up is a walk up outside of the stretch from the first false summit to the final summit.
The Nightmare Trailhead
Magellan (Alexei), his friend Kirk, Bryan and I made to the Rachael Lake Trailhead by 9:00 am. Hikers know this trailhead that parking a car here is more dangerous than parking a car in most struggling inner city areas. We got a reminder of that when we pulled up near a car with its window broken. I hope they find the slime that keep breaking into cars soon.
Up to Racheal Lake
That being said we cleared everything out of the car and decided to go for the peak. We went up the Rachael Lake trail. The trail began at a moderate pitch but soon leveled out as it followed the creek. From the next two and a half miles this mostly level to gradual trail followed the stream and traveled by many beautiful waterfalls. After about three miles from the parking lot the trail then steeped up and became a little more muddy and rocky. Watch on this section because there are many side footpaths that someone could wonder off on. There was one nice waterfall in this section but it was mostly dried up and the falls were down to a trickle.After four miles we came upon Rachael Lake. The aqua blue water looked plenty refreshing and if it wasn’t for the jerks breaking into cars below, this would be a great camping spot. It was pretty, but our minds were on making it to the summit.
Let's turn on the biodiesel to reach the summit
It was still two miles ahead and featured the toughest on this mountain. Soon we left the beauty of Rachael Lake and headed up the switchbacks up Rampart Ridge. As we went up these switchbacks, we saw plenty of great views of Rachael Lake. Once attaining the ridge we travelled up a path that led to Lila Lake and a bunch of great berry bushes. There is nothing better that wild berries (provided there are no bears around).
We then took a side footpath back to the ridge and started to ascend up we thought was the summit of Alta Peak. This little peak defines false summit. The summit was at least a half mile away. That being said, this was the premier section of the hike. There were tons of panoramas here as the footpath traversed the narrow but not knife like ridge. Since it was path there only some spots here that was slightly airy. Along the way we used plenty of biodiesel and methane gas to propel us to the summit. Luckily this peak isn’t too popular or I would have left sorry for the people behind us.
At roughly 1 pm we made the summit and enjoyed spectacular views of the Snoqualmie Region as well as distant views of Mt. Rainier and Adams. Peaks from Hibox to Thompson and many others could be seen from this amazing peak. This peak by far has had the best views for me this year. We stayed up there until 2 pm and then decided to head down.
Time to Head Down
Heading down had it own sense of adventure. The wild berries affect were really beginning to kick in and were using every bit of biodiesel we could to get us down the mountain. I took my time on this section to soak in the views and the watch my step. Though this ridge is not knife-edge, a couple of careless steps could send you flying. On the way down Magellan and Kirk decided to take a jump in Rachael Lake. I never heard higher pitches coming from men in my life. Rachael Lake was extremely cold and Magellan and Kirk were out quicker than they were in.
We headed back the next 4 uneventful miles and were back to the car 5:30. Now the mystery would be if the car would be ok. The answer is that ours was but the car nearby had two broken window and a broken door. Those break-ins are sad and I hope I never find the person who commits these acts. Afterwards we decide to head back and reflect on a wonderful Labor Day trip.