Mailbox Peak

This weekend a group of friends and I celebrated Nick’s bachelor party by hiking up Mailbox Peak. It’s not the most traditional way to do a bachelor party, but it was fun. Saturday morning six of us met at Ryan’s house, and by 8:30 we were on the road. We met the seventh at the campsite because he had to travel from Seattle. We left one car and most of the gear at the campsite, then drove to the trailhead of Mailbox Peak, which was only a few miles down the road.

This is a view of the whole mountain. We started at the bottom and walked all the way to the peak. It was about 3.3 miles from the beginning to the top, with a 4000 feet elevation gain.

{{:pics:mailboxpeak.jpg|View of the whole mountain}}

We knew the trail would not be easy. That kind of elevation gain in such a short distance meant really steep going, and it was further complicated by an unmaintained and muddy trail. There was even a sign warning us at the trailhead.

{{:pics:mailboxwarning.jpg|The warning at the beginning of the trail}}

After a few hundred feet up, there was a clear split in the group. Some of us were doing great, while others were dragging behind. We waited for them, and when the arrived we offered to take some of their gear. Doug gladly gave me his camera and lens, which I put in my backpack next to the tripod I had already been assigned. With food, water, and a spare shirt, as well as some safety stuff, my pack was probably the heaviest, but I was fine with it. Everyone said I needed the weight to keep me from blazing ahead.

The trail lived up to the sign; it was constantly rising, and with the roots making steps sometimes it was like climbing flight upon flight of uneven stairs. We tracked our altitude using Nick’s GPS, figuring out how much we had left to go and counting down to relief. We took a few breaks to let the others catch up, but made good progress. I was glad I had shorts and a tshirt; despite the cool weather I was still soaked in sweat. It was a pretty hike, though, and most of it was trees like the next picture.

{{:pics:mailboxtrail.jpg|Most of the trail was like this}}

Finally, I arrived with some of the others at the top. I had packed a sandwich, so I ate that, and passed my trail mix and beef jerky around. I brought a Netflix envelope stuffed with a blank CD and a note, so I put it in the mailbox to see if it’d get delivered, but also because it made a great gag. I also brought paper, envelopes, and stamps, and mailed myself a letter. I’m sure it’ll get delivered to me soon.

{{:pics:mailboxbobtop.jpg|Me standing next to the mailbox}}
{{:pics:mailboxnetflix.jpg|I put a Netflix envelope in to see if it would make it}}

Sadly, the peak was covered in cloud, so we didn’t have a very good view. We made the most of what we had, though, and when the last guys arrived at the top we took some photos.

{{:pics:mailboxgroup.jpg|Group picture of everyone}}

On the way down, we passed by some snow, and it beckoned us to ride it. We listened, and for about half an hour each of us took turns sliding down. The first time I did it on my feet, balancing as I skied down in tennis shoes. Next I started on my feet, then dove and rode on my belly, turning and standing right before the end. Ryan had some graceful runs, too, and Nick had fun bowling over someone at the bottom.

Soaked and stinging, we continued down the trail. We made really good time going down, mostly because it was all down, and the easiest way to do it was to jog gracefully, trying not to slip in the mud, and bouncing off trees to slow down. Along the way I picked up an empty water bottle. Then later I found a bandana on the trail and picked it up. Further still was a couple who asked me if I had seen a bandana. I said “Yep.” They said “How far back?” I said “About 12 inches.” Then I opened my backpack and handed the guy the bandana. He was very grateful, probably because it meant he didn’t have to walk all the way back up.

I waited at the warning sign as the rest arrived, and then we all went down to the cars. At the very bottom was a bottle of wine with a note that said “For the dude(s) who found my bandana.” What a great way to end a hike, and I had only picked it up because I didn’t want to see litter on the trail.

{{:pics:mailboxwine.jpg|A gift on returning back to the trailhead}}

We got in the cars and went back to the campsite, set up tents, and had burgers and cheddarwursts. Starting the fire took a while with wet materials, but we got it started using a nacho cheese dorito. We talked for a few hours until we were bored with the fire, then went to bed.

In the morning, we made pancakes and sausages for breakfast, cleaned up our campsite, and headed back. We stopped at Miner’s in Yakima for shakes, and everyone was walking funny from sore legs. We were back home an hour later.

It was a challenging hike. I’m still sore, but I was surprised how much energy I seem to have when hiking. I can just keep going no matter how difficult it is or how much weight I have, and I’m not even using very good equipment: my tennis shoes are years old and have no tread, and my backpack is from high school and not designed for serious hiking.  But it works for me, and I don’t know that I’d change it. In all, it was a good weekend.

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