Friday, November 27, 2015

A return to Mailbox Peak

After entirely too long, I returned to Mailbox Peak today with my hiking buddy. When I grabbed the leash and other hiking gear, she was elated, happily jumping into the car. The long drive out to and past North Bend was tiring, though.

We took the old trail up, which is a pretty grueling 4000' elevation gain over a mere 2.6 miles. Shasta had no problem whatsoever with the hike.

I, however, got wrecked, having done only two other hikes since my June summit of Mount Shuksan, one of which being last month's trip up Mount Saint Helens. I bonked around 1.5-2.0mi in, allowing Shasta to drag my ass up the rest of the way to the beautiful scenery of the Cascades and Mount Rainier. She was quite happy up there.

But I could barely walk.

I thought the descent might be made better by using the new trail, a 4.7mi descent instead of 2.6. That was all well and good, but it was significantly more snowy and icy than the old trail and took so long that I was stumbling all the way back to the car.

Up until today, I had been very adamant about the rule that dogs must always be on leashes. In fact, when Shasta was walking under a felled log, I didn't even let go of the leash while transferring it. However, having spent a good half hour without seeing another person, I decided to try letting her off-leash to see how she would do.

After maybe five minutes of her sprinting up ahead 50 yards or so then doubling-back to me, lather, rinse, repeat, she finally got into a good routine of staying within maybe 10-20 feet of me. (For what it's worth, I put her back on-leash immediately when we did eventually run into hikers. I then took her back off, and she did phenomenally every time.)

We got home and Shasta climbed onto the couch to curl up and rest. After my supremely weak-sauce performance for the day, so did I. Roughly 5.5hrs for the 7.3mi round-trip plus travel time, it left much to be desired. But it was good to be back on the mountain again.