Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mailbox Peak (2.5 miles up 4000 vertical feet of climbing)

All the pics here (click me)

Last week Dan and Laura and I met up out at the trailhead for Mailbox peak.  We got started about 6:30 and quickly realized it was way too late to start this monster.  We got about half way up before throwing in the towel.

We all agreed we had to come back and start a little earlier so yesterday a group of us met back up at the trailhead to give it another shot.  In attendance were Ross, Stephanie (after her second ACL surgery), Dan, Laura, Tom (Dan's brother), Natalie, and myself.

We headed up the trail at 5:30 and were quickly climbing.  This trail really does not waste much time before going straight up the mountain.  And I mean straight.  The demeaning part of the trail is that it seems to get steeper as you go up so as you climb it is getting progressively harder.

The whole climb is under a heavy canopy and is beautiful.  If it were not for the buzz of I-90 in the background you would never know you were 45 minutes from Seattle.

We ground up and up and up, finially starting to see light at the top.  This light was not the top but a giant boulder field that we climbed up and up and up.  At the top of the boulder field the meadow area started and was covered in wildflowers.  My progress quickly ground to a halt as I took out the camera and kept taking pictures of all the flowers.  The fog was pretty heavy which just made the lighting better for photos and I could not pass it up.

After about 3 hours we all were on top standing by the famed mailbox on top of mailbox peak.  Several of us signed the summit register, we ate some snacks and then headed back down.

The trip back down was about as hard as up because if how steep it was and I was very happy to have my trekking poles along.  About 1/2 way down the sun started to set.  We were in several groups at that point and Ross and I stopped to wait for Natalie so I could give her a headlight.  We gave Natalie and light and headed down the mountain.  For some reason Ross and I thought it would be a fun challenge to see if we could make it to the bottom without turning on our lights.  We made it within 100 yards of the trailhead before we turned on the lights and walked out to the gravel road.

Everyone was psyched to have made it to the top and we celebrated in the parking lot by destroying a bag of pretzels.  Then we all loaded up for the drive back into Seattle.  Thanks guy for such a fun hike.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Up to Carbon Glacier

View all the pics here (link)

This past weekend Natalie was away in NYC for a friends wedding.  I figured if she was having a girls weekend then it was off to the woods for me.  My neighbor Ross was game so we left the house at 7am Saturday morning headed to Mount Rainier National Park.  The goal was to camp up above the carbon glacier.  

When we arrived at the ranger station we found out that we were next in line behind the guy who got the last pass for the campsite we wanted.  We ended up with a permit for the carbon creek campground which turned out to be a nicer place to camp than were we wanted, even if it was not quite as far out.

So we started the trip with a 5 mile bike ride from the car up to the trailhead.  It was interesting riding a bike with 30lbs on my back but it was really nice to be back on the bike after taking a few years off.  

Then we hoofed it in just under 4 miles I believe to our camp at Carbon Creek.  We got a little turned around but after some searching we figured out where the place was.  There was a sweet suspension bridge on the way over to camp so I took about 5000 pictures of that.  We nabbed a great spot and setup camp really fast before loading up our dayhiking gear and heading up the trail.

It was not long before we came into view of the glacier.  I am not sure what I had pictured but this looked a lot like a gravel pit.  I can see why it is named the carbon glacier as it was black and covered in dark rocks.  It was an interesting contrast with Rainier gleaming so white you could hardly look at it in the background.  An amazing sight.

We kept heading up the trail, and I mean up, and passed the dicks creek campground where we had wanted to stay.  There was probably a nice view but the campsites were not much to look at.  We agreed that things had worked out well for us and continued up.  There was supposed to be a pretty lake at the top with an amazing view Rainier over a wildflower meadow.  Well after several miles of going up and up and up we hit the snow line.  Looks like no wildflower meadows for us.  Just to be stubborn we kept pushing up past the snow line a bit but realized that all we were going to accomplish was to get out feet soaked since I once again did not bring my gators.  Ok, they are coming on every trip from now on even if I am going to Arizona.

We eventually decided it was time to throw in the towel so I sent a quick message to Natalie from my spot messenger and we headed down.

We got back to camp, fished our beer out of the creek and kicked back in the campsite for a while.  Not too long after dark the day caught up with us and we turned in for the day.  I froze again proving to myself that I just need to bite the bullet and get a feathered friends 10 degree sleeping bag.  I must be getting old because I am getting really cold camping at night.  Nah, that can't be it!

Sunday we had a pretty quick hike back to the bikes and then had a blast racing back to the car.  I slowed us down taking lots of wildflower pictures.  Hopefully my buddy Stu will chime in and identify the ones I am not sure of.

Another great trip.  Looking forward to our car camping 4th of July adventure coming up this weekend.