After a Thanksgiving dinner, midnight shopping spree, and tearing myself away from poor Tokul who so desperately wanted to go I was surprised to find myself early at the trailhead as other TNAB hikers rolled in. Last year Tokul and I turned back after she had a fall. Even though she summitted during the regular TNAB season trip the vet's recent advice meant she was staying home.
The group of 10 that started at 9am was split in three different groups. The first group of six headed straight up. Scott, Don, and I opted for a less direct, but untromped route (for us). A late arriver, Joseph, also took the direct route.
In the future, there will be a nice route to Kamikaze Falls about half way to the summit. The old trail follows right by the creek and has a tendency to be wet, sloppy, and not the most kind for the creek when people are stomping up it. The new route is off to the northeast and far more gentle.
We made great time on the easy grade and ran into Joseph just below the waterfall. I was feeling so well I made the rookie mistake of trying to keep up with someone far faster than I. Joseph was doing some training thing so he never really got far ahead of me. I kept thinking I was doing well, but that just meant I kept pushing right up against my own limits. Between the falls and the ridge I had waves of dizziness and nausea, but then common sense kicked in and I slowed to a pace I could actually maintain.
Once we were on the ridge we moved from mist to snow in subtle stages. It seems like the ridgeline is more gradual than the climb from the falls, but I'm not sure it really is.
Just below the summit we emerged into deeper snow. We'd all opted to leave our snowshoes at the cars (and it was a wise decision) so we had to choose our steps carefully. In most cases the previous steps were solid, but every once in a while I'd posthole above my knee, find good footing with my other and struggle out.
Luckily, the deep snow was pretty short and we were soon back in the trees where it was crusty and firm. A group of four of us topped together. Don was a few minutes behind. There was a bit of a cornice that looked close to cracking off the steep back side of the summit so we stayed well clear of that while still getting a group photo.
With no views we headed down pretty quickly. We wound up in two groups again. Someone in the first group tried a couple of glissades. At least one ended roughly, or so the exposed rocks at the end of the trail seemed to indicate. Just above the deep snow we ran into a late group of four who were still on their way up.
We took our time on the way down in order to stay with our group. Somehow we missed all the rain and I dodged serious injury on a mountain that obviously doesn't like me. I still haven't had an easy time getting up or decent views on top. At least it's close to home and the company is good even if Tokul wasn't there.
Totals were about... maybe seven miles and 3,800 feet. Maybe.