Mileage: 8 miles RT
Elevation Gain/Highest: 3400/5240ft
Map: Green Trails Bandera No. 206
4/6/2016 The snow is melting! I brought my microspikes but left my snowshoes which would have been useless.
Second, this was my first time up this trail. I decided to try it because it was mid week, figured there would be less of a crowd. The beautiful day had folks out and I started late but there were only about 12 cars in the parking lot when I arrived at 11:30am. I’m guessing that is less than normal based on the amount of no parking signs placed down the road from the parking lot.
The trail was free of snow until about 3000ft when the patches start like previously mentioned and it isn’t until the talus fields that the trail is covered completely. The snow has begun to melt enough making what would have been compact snow before a recipe for postholing between the gaps in the scree.
Most of the other people I saw were in regular tennis shoes, only saw two other groups with shoes on that had traction, one group with yak traks and that was it. Even saw a family that looked like they wandered too far from the tulip fields in Laconner.
When I got to the larger talus field, I could see where most folks were continuing across and attempting to scramble up the boulders towards Mason Lake. There were some ladies coming down telling everyone that with the sun the snow was very soft and making the trail dangerous before you get to the lake.
I could see where the trail across the talus was pitted where everyone was sinking in and the air was filled with screeches of ill prepared hikers slipping and sliding.
I tried to start my trek up towards Bandera Mtn somewhere in the middle of the talus (after putting my spikes on) but got up about 10 feet and decided I was uncomfortable with the postholing around the boulders even in my spikes so I had lunch on a large rock and enjoyed the views around 1pm.
At about 2pm I decided to head back down and hopped from rock to rock as much as possible back down to the trail. Once I passed the talus field and before I entered back into the trees, I could see where some folks had just gone straight up in the snow towards Bandera. With some time left, I figured I’d test out the snow and kick step up in their tracks. The snow was perfect, albeit the slope steep. I headed up and toward the right making my way towards a snow free area that looked good for a perch. I knew I wasn’t at the summit but it was good enough for me. I took some more pictures and then slushed/slid my way back down to the trail and was back to my car by 4pm after passing some more people slow going it in their tennis shoes.
Directions: Take exit 45 off of I-90 and turn north onto FR 9030. A little over three quarters of a mile from the exit, stay left onto FR 9031. Follow it to its end and the trailhead for the Ira Spring Trail #1038. Road is one-lane gravel and dirt.