Mason Lake and Mount Defiance
August, 2006

I'd hiked to and by Mason Lake many times, usually on the way to Bandera or Mount Defiance. With the warm weather we wanted a good backpacking destination that would let the boys swim as well, and I thought Mason Lake would be a suitable challenge, while still being doable. The pictures below are a compendium of two trips we did in August, the first just with our family, and the second time bringing our backpacking babysitter, Kendra, along. We chose to go in the old Mason Creek route each time - it's very steep and eroded in places, but much prettier and much more direct, althought the Forest Service seems to be bent on discouraging its use. The first time out we followed the new(ish) Ira Spring trail down - what a travesty! It's hot, extremely dusty, loud (from I-90 noise) and very, very unaesthetic. If you know where the old Mason Creek trail is, I'd highly recommend that choice over the Ira Spring trail for both the ascent and descent.

The first trip up we combined the back an easy hike to the summit of Mount Defiance. The final bit is quite steep, but Gavin (5 3/4) and Bryden (9 1/2) didn't have any difficulties with it. The second trip we went looking for the scramble route up the north side of Bandera, and although we found the two delightful lakes on that side of the mountain (Rainbow and Island) we didn't contour quite far enough around Island Lake to find the easy scree scramble route up. Still, both trips included lots of sunning and swimming, great huckleberries, and perfect weather!

All geared up and ready to start

Dad still gets to carry the really big pack, but the boys are carrying more and more of their own weight each trip

The way goes up through steep, dark forest alongside pretty Mason Creek

There are fallen logs to go under - Bryden is able to just duck a little...

While some of us had to get down on our knees!

Mason Lake is really pretty

Maren, Kendra and the boys at the lake

Gavin out from a swim, warming up in the sun

Bryden scrambling around on some of the huge boulders that ring the lake

A guy can get really tuckered out after all that hiking and swimming and scrambling and berry picking - Gavin, sound asleep in the tent

We climbed Mount Defiance from Mason Lake - here's Gavin taking a break along the trail

Maren and Gavin about to start the last steep, meadowy bit to the summit

Our family on top of Mount Defiance

And everyone safely back at the trailhead, tired, a little sun burnt, and happy!

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