Rachel Lake / Rampart Ridge

Trail No. 1313


July 28 - 29, 2007   I hiked to Rachel Lake last October when this trail was ablaze with fall color and the waterfalls were mere trickles.  It must have been a memorable hike, because as I found myself heading up for a solo backpack, I remembered every brilliant display of color from last fall.  I was surprised at the lushness of the landscape in summer, and I was even more surprised by the wealth of wildflowers I saw as I made my way up the "cruel mile" to Rachel Lake.   It was like thumbing through a wildflower book, and I saw both familiar favorites and new ones:  fireweed, tiger lily, queens cup, columbine, yellow monkey flower, twin flower, lupine (both blue and white up on the ridge), valerian, penstemen, goatsbeard, bunchberry, Queen Anne's lace, cow parsnip, bear grass, pussy toes, bistort, vanilla leaf, pearly everlasting, tall bluebells, phlox, paintbrush, monkshood, thistle, alpine aster, orange hawkweed, rosy spiraea, and thimbleberry.  The blueberry bushes that line the trail are sporting tiny green berries, and salmonberries are almost ripe. 

I reached beautiful, sapphire blue Rachel Lake by 2:00 pm, and after setting up camp, I hiked up to explore Rampart Ridge.  This evening hike was meant to be an appetizer for a day hike on Sunday to Alta Mountain.  The view of Rachel Lake from Rampart Ridge was stunning, and Hibox Mountain was equally impressive.  Once on the ridge, I hiked first towards Lila Lakes and Alta Mountain for an allotted 45 minutes before turning around to explore the Rampart Lakes playground in the opposite direction.   When I returned to camp, the wind had become very strong and gusty, and I had to hike down the trail several hundred yards to set up my kitchen out of the wind, only to discover that the bugs there were not only biting but also vicious.  I suspect that 100% deet is merely a tenderizer for these maneaters.  After dinner I socialized with several people near my campsite, who also turned out to be near neighbors back in Seattle.  The wind kept the bugs at bay, but it grew stronger, and it shook my tent all night.  The moon was full, however, and the sight of it shining on beautiful Rachel Lake will be one of my favorite memories. 

In the morning, the ridge was shrouded in clouds, the wind was still, and the bugs were back with a vengeance.  Shortly after breakfast I decided to break camp and go home instead of braving the bugs to hike up Alta Mountain.  Rachel Lake is a popular hike, and I passed a steady parade people heading up the trail as I was heading down, and an equally steady parade of cars, trucks, and SUV's  heading to the trailhead as I was heading home.  I also caught sight of several deer and two playful martens, who were chasing each other back and forth across the road until I interrupted their sport.