Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Hiking, Top Trips

Bear grass heaven

I’ll never forget the first time I hiked Bandera Mountain. As Dani and I made our way back down the boulders, we met a college-aged kid* hiking up.

“Hey,” he said, sweaty and grinning. “So, what’s on top of this one?”

Dani and I looked at each other and then back at the kid, confused.

“You know,” he continued. “Like how there’s an actual mailbox on Mailbox Peak. Is there anything on top of this one?”

All smiles

We snickered about it on the way down, and then spent some time fantasizing about how awesome it would be to get to the top and find Antonio Banderas lounging on the summit.

He puts the ass in beargrass

JK was the only smoldering dreamboat I found when we hiked up again last week, but that’s ok, I prefer him anyway.

Snack Rock

There weren’t any mailboxes or phone booths either (does anyone know if the phone booth on Cave Ridge is still there?), just mountains and lakes and lots of bear grass. I prefer that, too.

Good dogs

Oh, and there was a pika! Cute little bugger.

Peek-a-boo pika

Still, Bandera’s main attraction has got to be the excellent sunsets. We were planning to watch it that night, but between overestimating our ascent time (whaaa?) and generally failing at math, we arrived much too early.

I love it up here

We considered hanging out until sunset anyway, but it was quite a ways off and we made the mistake of talking about dinner. Once I start thinking about food, there is no turning back…so we turned back.

To the light!

Did I mention there was bear grass? ‘Cause there was so much bear grass.


Even though crispy blackened tofu was singing its siren song, we moved down the steep meadow at a snail’s pace, filling our mental and digital memory cards with images of bear grass blowing in the wind, bear grass in golden light, nutrias framed by bear grass, bear grass, bear grass, bear grass.

Wellie and his papa

We finally did catch the sunset – from the car, driving down I90 – and I had massive regrets about not seeing it from the mountain. What’s on top of Bandera? Pure awesomeness, that’s what.

Bandera Mountain | 7 miles | 2850 feet elevation gain –

Should have stayed for sunset

*oh gawd, I’ve reached the age where I refer to college students as “kids”.

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  • Reply Becca July 3, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Ooo!!! I want to try this one! Looks so pretty, though, I will say I’m VERY disappointed that Antonio’s not there. *sigh* I guess I’ll just have to be happy with bear grass. :)

  • Reply Adina | Gluten Free Travelette July 4, 2013 at 9:43 am

    I think this is mostly the same route as the hike to Mason Lake right? We just did that one last Sunday and the bear grass plus views of Rainer were beautiful.

  • Reply Ingunn July 4, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Adina, that’s right! I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I’ve never been to Mason Lake, but I plan to rectify that asap. :)

  • Reply Christina July 5, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    I love and miss bear grass!

  • Reply Rachel July 5, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    I have yet to do Bandera, but I think I will add it to this year’s hikes! I just did Island Lake (Rainbow had too much snow) and it’s so gorgeous up there! I just love the alpine lakes wilderness.. Wish I were there right now instead of at work!

  • Reply Lisa July 6, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Why the poles?

    I ask because I’ve been having issues with runner’s knee that won’t go away & the specialist I saw said I could hike with poles. Never tried them.

  • Reply jill i July 11, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Have never done this hike either, for years had just blown past many of the I-90 corridor hikes in search of hikes higher and farther afield. However, this year I’m checking off many of the greatest hits. Cute post, great shots (that sunset! we’re having amazing sunsets this summer). And welcome to my world. Now I call people in their twenties “youngsters.” It just keeps on getting better, except for the increasing aches and such. As long as you stay active, which you clearly do!

  • Reply Ingunn July 11, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Lisa, sorry, somehow your reply ended up in my spam filter! If you have knee issues, you should definitely try hiking with poles – they take so much pressure of your knees on the descent. I don’t have knee issues, but by using poles I hope to avoid problems in the future. They also help with stability, they can help you hike faster uphill if you use them efficiently, and, as a bonus, you burn more calories when you use them. ;)

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