Questions like, "Hot enough for ya?" have given way to "What happened to summer?" over the last week, but (no surprise) TNAB was still a go. We even had a much bigger turnout than last week on Guye Peak. We left the trailhead at 6pm (of course) with 10 hikers and a dog. Mazzy, Colleens dog, apparently hasn't been out recently. She was visiting everyone in the parking lot, but none too friendly. As a panda I know once said, "My tenders..." Mazzy is now on my list with Zeus.
(Where's Tokul? Red has too much rock for her delicate little feet and sensible attitude. Plus she's worn out from three smaller hikes (small, but still totaling about 14 miles) this week.)
There were clouds up high, but the weatherman we had brought (hurray for occupational diversity!) thought we might get above the clouds. The promise of that kind of a summit shot put a bounce in my step as we turned off the well-trod PCT onto the neglected Commonwealth Basin trail. TNAB pace had me huffing until we leveled off at the creek crossing, but then the heaving breathing returned as we began the real climb. Red seems like a nice mellow hike with 3,000 feet of gain spread over about three miles. Of course, most of that is in the last mile or so and the last 800 feet is over loose rock so it's good on average, but fails when you look close.
With a plethora of helmets on display we snaked up the sometimes-trailed and sometimes-where-the-heck-are-we-going slope into the clouds. Even Mr. Weatherman gave up on the promise of sun above and the rare trees dripped on us as we passed under them. The summit was cold, windy, and with zero views. Last week we lounged about, but this week we were all business digging through packs for coats, hats, and gloves. All the stuff we've been carrying (or should have been carrying) all season long and finally had a good reason to use. It'd taken only an hour and a half to get to the top.
Pictures out of the way we blasted back down the trail (yes, the actual trail from the summit to the basin exists, it's just hard to stay on it on the way up) with no major rocks dislodged. Down in forest we passed a couple of camp sites that just beg for a snow camp with a child. The sites were especially familiar since it's where we abandonned hope of Cave Ridge on a nightshoe last winter.
It was only 9:30 so of course the Pour House was in order. We had taken over most of the upper area, as usual. People were making loads of noise. I swung around to find a seat, surveyed the room, and was shocked, nay... stunned to see Amy there! Um... where are the kids? Why are you here? My worlds... my precious, well separated worlds... brace for impact... KA-BOOM!
Nah, I kid, I kid. It was really cool to have Amy join the post-NAB celebration. TNAB is such a big part of my life that it's always been weird that she hasn't been part of it. Who knows? Maybe she'll actually get to come out hiking with us some time soon...
Total distance: Six miles and about 2,800 feet of gain.