Late again, I raced to the trailhead to find it full of cars, but devoid of TNAB life. And it was raining. And I hadn't been up this trail before. So sucks. Oh, well, with Tokul on leash we started up, but just as I was about to lose sight of the gate across the road I saw a familiar truck pull up so I returned to hike with Rich and his dogs.
Our goal was Mt. Teneriffe some 3,800 feet above us and just a short few miles as the crow flies. Usually, the crow's effort isn't a good indicator of the distance a hiker would need to cover, but for this trail it certainly is. Straight up the side of the mountain covering the gain in three miles the old road approach manages in seven. Egads.
The trail was sloppy with the rain from the last few days and my legs were heavy with turkey so the going was especially slow and painful for me. Although this was officially the TNAB Turkey Burner the holiday's dinner felt more like a lump in my stomach than a source of boundless energy. On the upside, the creek flowing beside the trail was beautiful and full of little plunges and falls. Given time I might have made some nice pictures on the way up.
As it was, we pushed hard. I think Rich was trying to catch the supposed hikers ahead of us while I was just trying to keep up with Rich. The dogs had no issues and were up and down the trail.
Beyond Kamikaze Falls the trail grew drier, if not less steep. Ahead we could see the dogs silhouetted against the sky as they had finally gained the ridge we'd follow all the way to the summit. Getting up that high was a great sign of progress, but also exposed us to the cold wind. (Thanks to the steep slopes it was the first time I questioned hiking in just a t-shirt.)
Just beyond this spot the dogs decided the way the trail went wasn't a good way to go. Unfortunately, there weren't many options. On one side the ground dropped precipitously and on the other the steep brush made it too hard to climb even for a four-footed climber with traction built in. Instead, the dogs started heading down.
As we'd convince one to come back up another would turn down slope and the others would follow suit. After a fair amount of pushing, pulling, and cajoling we managed to get them up the steep section and back on the relatively mellow ridge trail.
Although the trail was generally in great shape (because nobody else was stupid enough to venture this way when there was a perfectly good, if long and boring, road that also wound up at the summit) there were short sections where the duff gave way to slick rock. For the most part this wasn't a problem, but at about 4,100 feet Tokul slipped and was spread eagle.
After her fall Tokul was truly spooked. We made a few more feet up the trail, but it was clear she was done. She was trembling and breathing far more heavily than even the strenuous trip justified. Even Rich could see she was in trouble.
Rather than take advantage of her unconditional love I told Rich to head on up without me. It was only another 600 feet to the summit over another half mile, but it wasn't worth it. Instead, I wrapped Tokul in my fleece and tried to give her water. We sat for a few minutes until another hiker came into view below us. I helped Tokul to the side of the trail so the hiker could pass and then we descended to a wider, more sheltered spot along the trail.
After another TNAB hiker (GQ) passed on his way up and Tokul had finally had some water and my sandwich we started down slowly. She seemed almost back to normal, but a little tired. For a split second I thought about trying to go back up, but then again decided down was our best bet.
By the time we were back to the ridge Tokul was completely normal and when we arrived at the falls she was itching to clamor down the bank to the creek, but I held her back. When we were close enough for her to get to the creek she went in and splashed all about like nothing had happened.
We met only one other group on the way down and they were only heading to the falls. Probably a good thing, too, since one of them was in rubber boots instead of some form of hiking footwear.
Back at the cars I got Tokul settled in her usual spot in the footwell of the passenger side and wrapped up in towels. I called Amy, but then decided to wait for the rest of the crew to come down. First was Chris and his neighbor's yellow lab who also failed to summit when she balked at the snow a few hundred feet above where we stopped.
When the rest of the group arrived I heard from Rich that there were a bunch of nasty rocks that would have blocked us from the summit anyway, so stopping where we did was a good decision. Plus I had time to take all the pictures I'd wanted to on the way up.
Since I had another turkey dinner waiting for me in Kirkland I passed on the North Bend Bar and Grill with the group, though I hear they left puddles on the floor and a wicked big tip reminiscent of Han Solo after shooting Greedo. (And yes, Greedo shot first.)
Total distance was about five miles round trip and 3,150 feet of gain. This was my third trip to Mt. Teneriffe and I'm one for three. Clearly the mountain has something against me. Even when I did summit the weather was lousy with zero visibility and then we had an extra couple of miles tacked onto the traverse from Mt. Si as we left the keys in the wrong car and had to walk back to the Mt. Si parking lot.
Tokul has had a few quiet days at home with creaky bones, but generally seems none the worse for wear. I'm hopeful some mellow time on snow will wipe this from her mind and she'll be ready to rumble again soon.