Friday, July 22, 2011

Got mail at 4,926 feet?

Distance: 6 tough miles

Elevation gain: 4,100 feet

Location: Snoqualmie

Mailbox Peak has been on my list for months now but I was saving it. The idea of scrambling about 1,500 feet every mile made my thighs quiver with fear, and excitement. We chose the ideal day though since the sun was out, the temperatures hovered in the 60s and only a few other brave souls were pushing to the summit.

We parked at the gate and walked a half mile to the trailhead, greatly amused by a sign warning hikers to watch where they’re going because rescue crews spend more time on this peak than any other. There were only a few switchbacks, making the path near vertical as it pushed through the forest and dumped us out on an open hillside. My fingers lost feeling and turned white about here, distracting me from the splendid displays of heather and wildflowers just starting to bloom.

We diligently followed metal markers through the trees, confident we wouldn't be on the wrong end of a rescue mission. Someone with a cruel sense of humor had scribbled notes on a few, taunting tired hikers with the knowledge that they still had quite a long distance to go. After a rock scramble, we emerged from the trees and a view of the Issaquah Alps jumped out at us. There was a brief moment of joy when we thought we had arrived. Then we looked up and saw a rocky crown surrounding the summit so we put our heads back down and pushed on.

At the top was a battered white mailbox with a ledger inside to scrawl your name and any inspiring (or derogatory) message you might want to leave for fellow hikers. Some left business cards and beer bottles. The views made the climb worth every ruthless step. Mount Si could be seen below and Middle Fork Valley stretched in the distance.

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