Saturday, June 10, 2017

Let's try this again : Mailbox Peak


Four weeks prior, we had attempted Mailbox Peak, but turned back when we didn't like the amount of snow about 0.7 of a mile before the summit. And of course, a few years back, when training for the Inca Trail, we turned back heaven only knows where because Ms. "I Fall On Sidewalks" got paranoid about breaking an ankle a few weeks before we were supposed to leave for Peru.

But our training schedule called for a 5-hour hike, and, well, this seemed like a good choice.

This time we timed our arrival perfectly for a few minutes after 7, and drove past the cars crammed in the lower lot and up to the main lot. By the time we actually set out, around 7:20, there were already more than a dozen cars up there.

We set off up the trail and had it mostly to ourselves.


We played leapfrog with a couple of other small groups, but otherwise things were the same as our list hike -- nice and peaceful.


Oh, except this. June 3, 2017:


That same spot 4 weeks earlier, May 6, 2017:


Not a flake of snow. And, yes, this wasn't the really snowy part -- but I didn't stop to take a picture there!

Eventually, we met up with the old trail and started across the boulder field. The weather had turned foggy, and we all chatted about how amazing the view was going to be from the top. I do think that my favorite part of the entire hike was this long stretch of stone steps. Not quite built to Inca standards, but a pleasure to hike up.


As I slowed down (sucking wind, basically!), we caught up with and were caught by other hikers, all inching their way up.


I sent Wil on ahead so I could take some pictures. And by "take some pictures" I mean "take a breather". This is a strategy I plan to use on Kilimanjaro, too.



The final push is quite steep.


Steep enough that we broke through the fog ... for at least a few minutes.


Slight spoiler alert: Wil's standing at approximately the point where I slipped and verrrry slowly fell down. Successfully not toppling way off the trail, but also somehow jamming a finger, scraping a leg, and bending a trekking pole. I am The Best at Descending. The Queen of Descents.



We made our way up the final few feet to the mailbox -- THE MAILBOX!!! -- but, sadly, once at the top we were socked in again.


It was surprisingly crowded at the top -- I wondered what it must be like on a sunny day!


We took a few photos, ate a snack, and then decided to head down. No pictures on the slippy part (sigh), but when we got to the boulder field I loved seeing the trail snake across it.


At some point we passed a guy on the way up who was also singing the praises of stairs. We high fived.


The way down was weirdly long ... we actually took a break for a bit. Usually I feel like out-and-back hikes are great, because they always feel shorter on the way back. Somehow this one didn't. We saw a lot of people headed up, huffing and puffing and wondering if they were almost there yet. Nope. One guy said, "Well, thank you for your honesty!"

This is a great training hike -- nice and long, a lot of elevation gain, some uneven terrain, and, if you're lucky, a spectacular view from the top. But I don't think I need to hike it again this year. Maybe in 2018.


Mailbox Peak (New Trail)

10.3 miles
4032 feet elevation


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