10.5 miles of hiking • 4000' elevation gain •
With a beautiful weather forecast and a planned trip to Seattle to see Front 242 Sunday evening, I decided to drive out early from Portland and find somewhere to hike. After a little research, I decided to knock off one of the more popular strenuous hikes near Seattle, Mailbox Peak. Since I was hiking solo, I opted for the "gentle" new way up, over the grueling old trail. Looking back at the time it took me with the longer switchbacks, I kind of wish I could have just gone for the more difficult up. I got a bit of a later start than I wanted, leaving the parking lot at 10:40 am.
I passed a few souls on my way up, but had mostly solitude until I hit the big talus slope that one must go up to get to the peak. Then it was trains of people slipping and sliding down, while I waiting patiently to be able to go up. Large amounts of people in tennis shoes and no traction devices or poles. I can see why this trail gets massive amounts of search and rescue calls every year. The trail was very icy once the snow started in the trees, and turned to slippery mush on the exposed slope. It went back and forth between rock and slush, so my microspikes went on and off, as I didn't want to damage the tips on the rocks. I chose to kick step in the snow next to the trail rather than follow the slush mess on the final push. Mountaineering boots would have helped here, but I did okay with my normal hiking boots, spikes, and poles.
The last push consists of 960 feet of elevation gain in half a mile - and boy did I feel it! Slow and steady at the end and I made it.
I didn't spend a heck of a lot of time on the summit, Front 242 was calling back in Seattle and I had to get off the mountain in time to get there. Once past the snow and back on clear trail, I really pushed myself to keep a quick pace and get back after all the time wasted waiting for others sliding on my way up.
Pics on my gps link below.