Mailbox and I have a lousy relationship. Each time I've been up it's been more than just a struggle. Mailbox is a beast of a climb. In the olden days it was straight up the ridgeline with no switchbacks, no breaks, no nothing. In the last few years they've been building a new trail.
Of course, the new trail isn't all that useful when you don't follow it. For the first bit of the hike I was following the new trail. When the faster TNAB hikers disappeared from my view I continued pushing harder than I probably should have and in my delirium I figured TNAB would have taken the old trail so i turned where I shouldn't have and suddenly I was following a scratch of a trail that climbed relentlessly.
Since nobody was around I pulled out my trusty iPod and put on my high-energy playlist. (Weird titles for the pictures? They're all from the music I listened to while climbing.) The majority of the music is stuff from The Crystal Method with a few other artists thrown in for good measure.
There's not much to look at as you climb the old trail. The trees hide the sun, which was shining brightly, so there's very little undergrowth to contend with. Instead, I was focused on following the trail. Since most hikers follow the new trail the old trail is fading. I was happy when I found the new trail just below the exit from the woods.
Mailbox redeems itself when you leave the dark forest behind and you get to see the open slopes. The only problem is that each time you think you're close to the top you're really not. Still, views to the south and west are glorious so it's easy to keep pushing up over snow and rocks.
I arrived at the summit after about an hour and 45 minutes. Pretty good for me. And I wasn't last. Yee ha!
We stayed on the summit for about 30 minutes waiting for the rest of the crew to arrive and shooting pictures of the setting sun. Then it was down and down. Once we got into the trees it got dark, but we (Scott and I) abstained from headlamps for the entire descent.
Tokul, usually happiest when hiking with the lead hiker, faded back and hiked with the group behind us. No idea why. She seemed plenty energetic when we walked the road back to the cars.
After the hard hike (all of 5.5 and 4,114 feet of gain) Tokul curled up in the car and I got my usual fries and Coke at the Pour House. We were quick so I was home by midnight.
I'd say it'd be another six years, but we all know I'll be there next year when TNAB climbs again.