(all pictures are low res, for high res click here)
Ellen and I were looking for a short and fun hike close to home, so we jumped on I90 and headed to exit 45 (USFS 9030), to find the Mason Lake Trailhead (seen above) which connects to Bandera Mountain. We had a running joke that was started the night before at Chapel, that this was really Pantera Mountain and we'd all have to grow long poofy hair to even consider climbing it.
It was obvious in the parking lot , that it was going to be a gorgeous day as we could see McClellan Butte from the trailhead. I swear the top of the McClellan Butte looks like the Matterhorn. This trail was not that hard, as it followed an old forest road and it passed some interesting waterfalls . As we gained altitude (we started at 2200 ft), I90 and the surrounding mountain provided a great view . As the old forest road ended, the trail became steeper... We had to cross a bunch of snowfields, to reach our stopping point for the day. At 4200 ft, where the Mason Lake trail breaks off from the Bandera trail, we decided to stop for lunch and stare at the views. (Mt. Rainer is in the background) As we ate lunch, we realized that we fooled around too much on the way up, and we had hit our turn around time, so we decided to head back down. We didn't summit Bandera mountain, but we had a great time just being outside enjoying these views.
This is a fairly fun hike, and I plan to finish it sometime soon.