Monday, April 26, 2010

Mailbox Peak Trail (04-25-2010)

This was my first visit to Mailbox peak. Well, it was my first visit to the Mailbox Peak trail... since we didn't manage to summit.

There were five of us today: Rachel, Steve M., Mary (friend of Rachel) and Steve G.. This was the first time any of us had been to this trail... and I thought I had adequately warned them.

The trail held up to its reputation for being steep. We all agreed on that.

For those of you who aren't familiar with this trail, it is located just outside of North Bend, WA along the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River. It is notoriously steep, even by Cascade Mountain standards. 4,500 feet gain in about 2.5 miles. For the most part, the trail follows the ridge straight up the mountain. A few switchbacks exist, but they are short, sweet and still steep.

The payoff for climbing Mailbox: burning quads... plus there is a mailbox at the top.

Here is the easy part:

Since we knew the forecast was "anything but sunny" we were cool with just enjoying the elevation gain, the forest views and of course great company.

What we weren't expecting were the comedians who preceded us.

What comedians? The comedians who broke up the elevation gain at unexpected places and in unexpected ways.

For example:
The lovely signage... complete with killer tree tape.

Although not really a fan of graffiti, we laughed at the white trail markers comments. One promised: "halfway(ish)" while another one, on the descent, simply said "leg pain".

Then there was the comedian sponsored by Garmin. Our GPS insisted we only managed 30 minutes of "moving time" on our 2,500 feet ascent. That must be a record, right? hockeygrin.gif

Much of our final 1,000 ft of gain involved getting pummelled by snow bombs, although I'm not entirely confident that at least one of those snow bombs was initiated by one of the Steve's. Oh well... it was all fun for me.

We peaked out after gaining about 2,500 feet, turning around at about 3,250 feet where the fresh snow began to stick.

I chose this trail because I know I need the elevation training for upcoming trips. It's clear to me that my running program is working well... it's been 3 weeks and it's been years since 2,500 gain was this easy. Part of it the 'ease' was our deliberately slow pace but surely a lot of it came from the training as well.

Mailbox remains on my to-do list and I'm confident that I'll be to the top in no time.

Happy Trails!

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