Monday, May 5, 2014

Sunday hike: Mailbox Peak

Yesterday was another one of my training hikes for Mount Rainier. It was supposed to be Bandera Mountain, but we cancelled that on account of avalanche risk. Instead, we opted for Mailbox Peak.

Much of the hike is under the canopy of tall pine and cedar trees (among others), and looking down is often a view similar to this shot from fairly early on:

After a very long and grueling climb (it's always harder when you're hiking alone), I was rewarded with this spectacular view looking south. Mount Rainier is just above and slightly to the left of the peak left-of-center. (With the new Google Maps, you can get a clear view here.)

The requisite self-picture. There's significantly less snow than the last time I was here almost two months ago.

All the rain made a whole lot of mud on the trail, a bit of which I took with me.

The warning as you enter the trail is heartening in that it's only 2.5mi each way. For some reason, I thought it was approaching 4mi.

After you leave the trail proper, there's a well-maintained road leading back to the parking lot. After the draining ascent and painful descent, this is a well-deserved, relaxing stroll back.

Lucky for me, my boots are REI Scratch & Dent and cost me very little.

The hike certainly felt significantly slower than the March hike I did, perhaps because I was solo this time instead of hiking with a friend visiting from out-of-town. Or perhaps because I didn't have my hiking poles yesterday (which meant I made my legs do more work in keeping me vertical). Maybe I was carrying more weight this time -- I've got almost 30lbs of rocks that I take with me to train.

In all, the 5.1mi round-trip took 2:42.