10.5 miles roundtrip
YDS Class 1
1 hour 45 minutes up
1 hour on the summit
1 hour 30 minutes down
I hope everyone has been able to enjoy this amazing October. Fall foliage out here in the northwest has been peak for the past two weeks and the weather has been stellar. Obviously this October 26th, 2008 was no different. Well I was originally suppose to go to Kaleetan Peak but my partner bailed out due to family obligations, so being solo, I decided to try work on my speed and shout for Mount Defiance, a I-90 peak have not done yet.
I reached the trailhead with a goal set at making the summit at an hour and a half. This was clearly was just going to be a speed hike. As soon as I hit the trailhead at 11:15 I was ready to roll. I began up the Ira Spring Trail which is a very well kept up trail, for about a mile. This section I mixed jogged and fast walked. About a mile up I caught the old Mason Lake Trail. This trail up was not as pleasant as the Ira Spring Trail. In fact it was steep, contained a number of slippery roots, had a number of fallen trees, had a talus field I had to go up in section, and was often hard to follow. This slowed me up but I pressed for speed. Within an hour I was up at Mason Lake.
Mason Lake was pretty but it was very windy. That though wasn’t going to stop me. The false summit of Bandera had a dusting of snow which only made the prettier. I continued up a trail when I made my fatal move, I took the muddy trail to Little Mason Lake instead of taking the main trail to the Mount Defiance trail. That trail was a mud bath. Still I tried to make good speed when I could. After hitting Little Mason Lake I decided to bushwhack up the ridge to the Mount Defiance Trail. Within a couple yards I ran into the Mount Defiance Trail and I was back on track. I couldn’t though run up because the trail had some leftover snow and ice from the storms the week before. So quick paced it up the trail to until I past the short scree field which was well leveled so good speed to be gained. I then hit the bear grass where I ran into another hiker. I asked him what time it was and he told me it was 12:45 pm. And that is when I knew I failed my goal.
I continued to run through the bear grass and then went up the final steep section where due to the fact that I was winded I took about 15 minutes from the bear grass to the summit. I held my head down a little but for not making the goal but then quickly was refreshed by the amazing views around me. This views may not have the fall foliage that is going on in other parts of the state but the view of Mount Rainier, McCellan Butte, Bandera, Granite, Silver and so many other mountains in the region lifted my spirits. After all this was my first ascent of this peak. Next time maybe a different story.
I sat on the summit for an hour. The first twenty minutes I sent on the summit by myself where I could enjoyed the beautiful views. It was windy on the summit but I have been on many summit in New Hampshire so that didn’t prevent me from enjoying this beautiful summit. For the rest of the time I met two nice hikers up on the summit. One of was taking his time enjoying the beauty of the summit while the other was doing this mountain for the same reason I was was. In fact he made the summit three minutes sooner than I did taking the Ira Spring Trail all the was to the Defiance trail. This route is easier but much longer than my route. I give that guy props for that doing that route in 1:42.
I headed down at 1:55 pm with the two for a little bit where the person who wanted to enjoy the view this stopped to take pictures. The other guy decided to give a shot at trail running. I decided that if I can’t make up at an hour and a half at least I can make it down in an hour and a half. So I joined the guy on the trail run down. I have decided hat trail running down a gentle to moderate descent is one of my favorite things. I felt as if I was skiing and dodging trees. Luckily the Mount Defiance Trail is in great shape. We flew down in twenty minutes and then speed through Mason Lake. He decided to stop as Mason Lake whereas I continued. I did well until I hit that one uphill section on the Ira Springs trail. Then when I hit the height of land. I ran into my weakness, more beautiful views and fall foliage. The pictures had to come out here. The berry bushes as well as the small bushes were amazing. Yeah it slowed me up a bit. My left knee was also starting ache a little so I decided to slow it up a bit and fast walk it. Well after fifteen minutes of fast walking, that guy caught up to me, and after he told me what time it was (3:10 pm.) I knew I had to speed it up. I jogged with the my all the way down to the car with the guy. I know I took a longer route back but will I make it. Soon I saw the trailhead and all of the sudden ran for it like I was being chased by a bear. Yeah I made it in a little less that an hour and a half (3:24 pm). Whoa but a fun trip. I talked to guy a little and told him about summit post. Hopefully he logs on and checks it out.
Overall great trip and beautiful views. I would recommend Mount Defiance to anyone, unless you are only interested only in scrambles or rock climbs. This peak during summer is mostly a hike up. However there is always West Defiance (I might do that next time). Great time, great mountain, great trip. Now for Kaleetan!