After having climbed Mt Si and hiked up to Bridal Veil Falls during the last two days, I nearly didn’t want to get out of bed for the hike up Bandera Mountain. But I am so glad that I did. I arrived at the trail-head early enough to beat the crowd. Plus the sun was just starting to peek over the horizon. So, I set out with the silence of the woods as my only companion.
The first section of the hike heads continuously uphill on a fairly even, very wide track. After crossing several waterfalls the view starts to open up. The day was slightly overcast but the breeze was enough to cause some wonderful cloud swirls atop the surrounding peaks. It was enough to keep my mind from focusing too much on the intense burn in my legs.
While I’d jump on a sunny day to stand on a summit, getting to watch the cloud cover dance around the peaks on these moderately cloudy days is just as enjoyable. It is like watching a painting that changes every time you blink.
Once I was out of the tree cover the real fun began. There was still a considerable amount of snow at this elevation. I pulled my ice-ax out and got ready for the best part. Since the trail was completely covered I took the opportunity to practice my mountaineering skills and went straight up the side of the hill. At least one other had opted for the route I was on. Others had opted for a path where a few kind humans had kicked in some basic switchbacks.
At a few points the snow was about waist deep: something I discovered by post-holing up to the top. Once at the top I felt lucky to have the summit to myself for about 15 minutes. I ate a snack and enjoyed the view just before a few hikers came up.My advice: come early to avoid the crowds (I know, surprising for I-90) and be ready for considerable elevation gain during the last half mile. Most importantly, enjoy the views.