(It's been a busy couple of weeks so this is long overdue. Some of the feats of outdoor mastery might be just a tad exaggerated.)
Perhaps once or twice we've commented on the mountain out the back yard. Remember the whine about the fact that the sun hardly rises in the winter before it sets again or when we witnessed a wild fire on the summit from the bedroom?
However, the mountain has been a fun visit not once or twice, but three times. I've longed to tag the summit starting from home, but the one time I tried was for a Winter Solstice TNAB party and nobody made it to the top that day.
So for this year's normal TNAB trip I figured I'd give it another shot. I raced home and was still a whopping 12 minutes behind schedule when I walked out the driveway. (No, it doesn't sound like a long time, but I was trying to at least meet the rest of TNAB if not get a few extra steps up the trail.) The Twin Falls trail was a quick trip even with a much heavier load than usual. (Since Henry's no longer content in the pack I'm more used to walking unencumbered on the easy trail.)
At the end of the Twin Falls trail we turned east on the Iron Horse with the sun behind us. Tokul had just hit her stride and was ranging far ahead and back as I plodded along the old railroad grade. Where the Mt. Washington trail heads up I was disappointed to see sign of a bunch of boots ahead of me. Now I'd have to go even faster to try to catch anyone before the summit.
Tokul and I made good time and soon caught and passed a TNAB regular. He told us the others had passed him about 15 minutes previously so we pushed on. He also said he had given up at trying to keep up and was taking pictures instead. I realized I was so intent on going fast I wasn't appreciating the surroundings, like a big cluster of trillium right by the trail. So I stopped and shot a couple of pics before continuing. What's the point if it's not fun?
Tokul was ranging up the trail out of sight only to return a few moments later to check on me. I started thinking of her like Noah's dove. As long as she came back I wasn't that close to those in front of me, but when she didn't return I knew I was close. At least until I saw a side trail with tracks on it. I trusted she went the right way and continued on. Across the creek and around the corner I ran into the group putting on snowshoes. Just as I caught up they took off again so I followed in their footsteps without snowshoes, postholing only occasionally.
And Tokul? She'd taken the lead.
At the beginning of the big climb up I put on snowshoes and followed up. As usual, we abandoned the trail for the opportunity to climb straight up. Tokul balked at one spot, but otherwise was having a blast hiking with the other dogs. We gained a ridge and then left the open and were back in the trees for a quick shortcut to a road and the final climb to the top where the sun was just starting to set. Tokul was so tired she lay down in the snow, but was still lab enough to get up for treats.
Although I'd worn snowshoes up I stowed them for the hike down. It was lots easier to plunge-step down even though each step wound me almost knee-deep in snow. The big thrills came when we were able to glissade some of the steeper slopes. Of course, it was April so the snow was perhaps a bit thin. That meant that as I slid down on my bum (in shorts, of course) either ice or the odd stick or rock roughed me up a bit. Not pretty.
Back on the Iron Horse we gathered without headlamps, counted off, and walked back to the cars. (Wait, cars?) Rich gave me a lift back to the house so he could deliver a push-mower for Amy's parents. After tucking in Tokul and changing into dry clothes I followed to the Pour House for the Post-NAB.
With the bonus mileage and gain from the house my totals were nine miles and 4,900 feet of gain. And now I don't have to do that again.