Bandera Mountain (5,241 ft) and Mount Defiance (5,584 ft)
March 5, 2016
I originally planned to work today grading papers given that the forecast was for rain, but when I sat down to start grading at 9:45am I looked outside my window and it was somehow sunny with blue skies. I knew I wouldn’t be productive inside with this weather, so I quickly threw some gear together and started driving to the mountains at 10am. It’s a pretty late start, but there are good mountains to climb just 45 minutes outside of town.
I pulled off at exit 42 and started hiking up to Bandera at 11am. The official trailhead is still closed for the winter, but it’s possible to bushwhack through the woods for a half-hour and still reach the logging road that leads to the trailhead. Surprisingly I met two other people descending as I hiked up. I bet they turned around at snowline. The snow started pretty high, at around 3,000ft. I had tried this mountain back in January and snowline was all the way at the cars. So I made a lot faster time today.
I reached Mason Lake after two hours, then followed the ridge up to Bandera Mountain. A set of boot tracks led to the western summit, but I continued on to the true summit (about 50ft taller). There were excellent views of Rainier to the south. I’d made good time so decided to hit Defiance as well. Back at Mason Lake I ate a quick snack, then hiked up the ridge to Defiance, summitting at 4pm. By now Rainier was in the clouds, and it looked like rain was soon approaching.
I descended to the car, getting almost to the trailhead at sunset when I heard gunshots very close by. I yelled out that I was hiking in the woods, and they momentarily stopped. As I got closer to the trailhead they started again in rapid succession and I dove behind a tree. I yelled again as loud as I could to stop shooting, that there was a person back here. It stopped again and I hiked a little farther, but then another ten shots rang out in rapid succession, extremely close to me now. I again hunkered down behind a tree until they stopped and yelled even louder. This time I made it all
the way to the trailhead, and saw a person in dark clothing in the woods picking up a gun to fire again. I didn’t take any chances and bolted to my car. As I reached the car more shots rang out. I jumped inside and sped away.
Obviously the person had heard me, but continued to fire. He was probably doing target practice, but that was probably the worst place and time I could think of to be shooting. He was shooting uphill into the woods right next to an obvious trailhead at sunset when he couldn’t see very well. Luckily I made it safely back to Seattle.