All day I watched the weather get worse and worse. It went from broken clouds to cloudy to occasional showers to a solid downpour. On the way to the trailhead it stopped raining long enough to gear up, but that certainly didn't last.
In contrast to previous hikes with TNAB there were only eight of us stupid enough to start on this trip. Shortly after we started it started raining again. On the upside, we were mostly in the woods so it was mostly a soaking mist. From the muddy start we quickly got into snow. Once in the snow it was pretty much a waste of energy to try to follow the trail.
We spread out as usual and I lost the hikers ahead of me when is stopped to put on crampons. (I probably didn't need them, but I have them and dang it I have to justify them and they did make it a little easier to traverse some of the open slopes.) A new hiker (Jo) caught up with me and we hiked together. (She described her job as a "hiking nanny." How cool is that?)
Luckily, we spotted the bright coat of one of the lead hikers before descending into what I thought was the lake basin. Turning in that direction took us right to the lake. At least it's where the lake will be when the snow melts out. Right now it's more a big flat spot covered in snow with just a bit of dark water around the outflow. We stayed well back from what appeared to be the shoreline in case it was really just ice.
The group mostly stayed together on the way back. Good thing, too, since we lost the trail after crossing the last avy chute. Even better, the new GPS clearly showed the route we had taken out and where we were in relation to it. We had to drop down the slope just a bit, but found our outbound tracks and were back on course for the rest of the walk back.
(Yes, we bought a new GPS. The one I've had since 2003 has been so badly abused that it was only partially functional, turned itself off on occasion, and had terribly bad reception in the trees. Amy decided it was time to replace it when she couldn't rely on it to give her mileage on her 3-Day walks. Next I'm going to have her wear my stinky fleece and see if she'll replace that, too.)
Mark and Yet, our two leaders, had turned back early, but were waiting for us in the comfort of a warm and dry car. For the rest of us it was a race to get the wet gear stripped off and inside before we washed away.
Since it was a shorter hike than most TNAB trips (7.5 miles, but only 1,700 feet of gain) I was home much earlier than usual. It's nice to get home at a decent hour for a change, but the peaks are calling and the snow's melting...