Planned to hit Bandera Mountain Summit, 2nd time, and 4th for Little Bandara. Perfect blue skies – almost too perfect as the temps rose. Started at exit 42 – Tinkham vs. the Ira Springs trailhead, in part to avoid parking crowds and the dusty potholed road, plus the lower trail is a beautiful moss-covered trail with stumps of old grown tree harvested long ago, with beautiful stream flowing along the trail. There are no water sources once you pass the log bridge, and the true summit to Bandara is long and hot as it’s exposed to the sun. Bring enough water.
Wildflowers along the steep boot path to Little Bandera are in full bloom, so take your time and enjoy the many colors. All lakes are melted out and the trail to Bandera Mountain summit is completely snow-free. There is a talus field of a couple of hundred yards marked with cairns to navigate once you get to the final stretch. The talus covered summit has a summit register, a small box with some papers, and other odd items. From the summit looking South Rainier looms larger than ever.
There is a massive bowl of talus below and it could be an interesting scramble adventure to explore and connect with the trail for Talpus Lake in the future. Super views of the peaks along the I90 corridor with Tusk O Granite and Granite Mountain to the East, Silver, Tinkham, Abiel, and Humpback to the South. McClellan and the Dukes to the South West, Defiance, PPP, Web to the West, and many of the Home Court 100 to the North and North West. Stuart in the far distance.
Most people don’t venture past Little Bandera, but if you want an amazing hike and required, make the effort to push to the final summit.