Blame it on the weather, if you must. Or the fact that the three non-leaders all bailed. Or that Snoqualmie Mountain is a butt-kicker. No matter the cause, it was a pretty weak Solstice Party.
Last year the skies were blue, the snow was deep, and the party was raging. This year... not so much. At 5:45 there were only two of us in the parking lot. By 6pm, our designated start time there were only four of us. No matter. It's TNAB and you hike because it's Thursday.
It didn't rain on us. At least not from the sky. It was muggy at Alpental so we were in t-shirts and that meant we were soaked from the brush hanging over the trail through the avalanche chute. I was doubly-blessed because my axe, attached to my pack, stuck up over my head and whacked each and every branch ensuring it dumped all its water on me.
At the waterfall there was no snow. Contrast with last year when there was a dicey, but probably passable snow bridge over the falls. Snow started in earnest right after the falls last year, but this year it was just a slippery mess.
I was already huffing keeping up with two of the faster TNAB hikers (or trying to keep up) and even one guy who calls himself, "stout," was leaving me in the dust. Above the trees we were on a rocky slope that was great covered in snow, but not so lovely without. Views were sporadic at best with only Guye Peak really making much of an appearance.
The final ridge crawl had snow, but not a ton. The summit itself was bare of snow and held only one other hiker who had started early. He was wondering if anyone was going to show up.
We had a brief celebration with a mini-bottle of bad merlot and then headed down, sure the weather was about to smash down on us. It never did, but there was little to be gained on the summit. It was much better to celebrate in the comfort of the Pour House.
Total distance was only 3.1 miles, but 3,087 feet of gain. Ouch. (Yeah, that seems wrong to me, too, but it still hurt.)