I've got a new theory about the difference between Fall and Winter. Fall is when you can drive to the trailhead and then have to climb to the snow. Winter is when you have to drive through the snow just to get to the trailhead.
Too bad it doesn't hold up.
Three days before the official start of Winter and it's a challenge to get to the Little Mt. Si trailhead in North Bend. Actually, it was a challenge just to get to the QFC where we were meeting. We had to meet there because the actual trailhead was closed at night and parking was limited at fellow TNAB hiker Peggy's house just down the street.
While we were trying to consolidate into a few cars we changed plans. It wasn't that Mt. Si would be too far or too hard even in the heavy snow falling, but rather that it wouldn't allow for an appropriate amount of Solstice partying on the summit. Instead, we headed to Little Si. Along the way we got a dark preview of the new overflow parking lot and the connector trail that's been built along the cliffs. Pretty cool, actually.
At the junction with the Old Si trail there was a mini-mutiny. Peggy (our parking host), Larry, and his son Jason decided to head up Mt. Si after all. Jason wanted to snowboard the Haystack or some such nonsense. Peggy had already run the trail a few times that week so it wasn't a big deal for her and Larry was Jason's dad and what's a dad to do? (He might also have been a bit out of his mind. It was the first time anyone could remember seeing him hiking in anything other than a cotton t-shirt.)
The rest of us made good time in the ankle-deep snow to the summit. Once there we realized that everyone had brought something to drink, but almost nobody had food. (That's what the bar afterward was for... hmm... do you sense a trend with the drinking thing here?) I had a relatively sedate hot chocolate and Starbucks liqueur (about the same alcohol content as a box of baby wipes), but others brought harder drinks including the infamous Glog. Tip: Never drink the Glog. If the name sounds that bad you can bet it ain't a wine cooler.
Mark, the TNAB leader for the last five or so years, gave a speech in which he declared this trip would be the last he'd lead. He had three tiki torches and bequeathed leadership to Chris, Steve, and Josie. Plus they each had to carry a torch down.
After pictures all around I decided to head down ahead of the main group. Tokul was looking mighty cold and I had a shopping list to complete at QFC. We agreed to meet at the Pour House (aka: the bar) and I figured I'd be able to grab some food there since I hadn't touched my pbj or other snacks.
Usually I get a little apprehensive about hiking in the dark by myself. However, the snow's reflectivity and knowing the rest of the group was behind me made for an enjoyable trip down. Tokul ran up and down the trail having a blast in the snow and I was happy to see her having a good time.
After QFC I pulled in to the Pour House to find nobody there. Huh. Maybe they were nearly there. I called Jo, but no answer. I waited for about 15 minutes, drank two Cokes, and left feeling like I'd been stood up.
Turns out the group had been delayed by an alcohol-impaired descent and a confused neighbor. Someone called 911 to report a man on his knees with a gun to his head. In reality it was Joe who had slipped and was being helped up. Three Sheriff's deputies showed up to investigate and for some reason there was a limo, too. By the time they had everything straightened out it was 11:30 and I was long since in bed.
So ends the 2008 TNAB season.
Totals for this trip were about five miles and 1,200 feet of gain.