Two weeks from Cascade Crest. After some texts earlier in the week, Dave and I decided we could have one last multi-hour run up in the mountains before the big race. Mount Defiance is one of my favorite destinations in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and I hadn’t made it up this year, so we decided that would be the place.
Pratt Lake Trailhead to Mount Defiance
In a slight change from the last time I did this run, we started at the Pratt Lake Trailhead (as opposed to the Talapus Lake Trailhead), in order to add a mile or so to the route. If you’re a fan of the Green Trails Maps, this one is entirely within the Snoqualmie Pass Gateway special map. While not overly complicated, I felt there were enough trail intersections on this run to warrant bringing the map, which I did consult once duration the run.
One of my favorite things about this route is the wide variety of environments. It starts with the more typical dark, damp, soft, wooded trails. Towards the top of the Pratt Lake Trail (~4,000 feet) things dry out and open up. There a wonderful flat, dusty stretch along a ridge. The next stretch is the gem (IMHO): A little alpine valley full of little lakes, scrub brush, and huckleberries EVERYWHERE. Finally there is the long climb up Mount Defiance, which includes steep switchbacks, open mountainsides covered in flowers, and scrambling up the dusty, rocky summit. The views at the top are hard to beat!
This route is a whole lot of fun. It was an extremely hot day and we were definitely feeling it by the end. There were a couple of stops to cool off in little creek waterfalls on the way back to the trailhead. A good way to have a little, last fun in the mountains before some much needed rest and recovery.