It was time for another MAAD trip. Amy claims I get "cagey" if I don't get out regularly. I'd argue, but then I might not be encouraged to go. Who am I to not be cagey? Plus, I made the mistake of realizing I was at 98 days on trail for 2009. How could I not cram in a couple more to get to 100?
A bunch of people were out of town right before the holidays so it was a smaller trip. In the end, only Scott and Eric were able to go. Eric wanted to drive lest he force us to abandon the summit if he couldn't make it. We all but forced him into Scott's truck arguing that it was just Microwave Hill. (If it had been a real mountain we might have considered his request for a moment.)
Microwave Hill looks like it might be nice during the day or with a full moon. However, it was gonna be dark. There's not a lot of redemption in a long road walk in the dark with the wind howling at you and no fresh snow. At least it was a few miles of "trail."
We started at the Price Creek Sno-Park (westbound) and found the connector road with ease. There was another truck in the lot, which surprised us greatly. We figured nobody else was stupid enough to be there on a night like this.
The roads look like they've seen some snowmobiling action, but nothing too recent. Of course, it's difficult to tell since there's been virtually no new snow for a seemingly long time. We packed our snowshoes and made good time booting it up the road.
Previous "climbers" had cut some of the road's switchbacks, but we opted to stay on the road. We figured we'd perhaps cut them on the way down. We were following a set of tracks that looked pretty fresh, but then they stopped in the middle of the road. Apparently, they'd turned back. Except about 20 feet further along they emerged from the woods. Weird.
Zeus and Athena were scouting the route for us and found some new friends. The snowshoe tracks led to a steep hillside and a surprised couple of guys who were just finishing up their igloo. It was a very nice igloo. The kind you get when you buy the fancy igloo making kit. They'd been working for four hours. It looked rock solid, but rather than have the dogs christen it (Zeus had already claimed Athena earlier in the night) we left them in peace and continued up.
Road walks are boring. Especially at night. You can't see much and there's little to do other than trudge along. Just as the terrain started to open up (and it became apparent the moon was nowhere to be found) we saw the red glow of the radio tower. Around another corner and we were there. Scott measured the snow depth at about a meter and the temperature in the lower 20s. Not bad... except for the wind. We sheltered in some trees for pictures, drinks, and warmer jackets.
On the way down Eric jogged a bit to warm up, but I couldn't bring myself to do the same. Instead, I stopped to take pictures. Fat lot of good that did. With little light there really wasn't much hope so i hurried to catch up.
At the parking lot I was relieved to see nobody had broken into the trucks, but disappointed to find myself suspended in mid-air parallel to the ground. Needless to say, that didn't last long and I crashed down on the ice in a rather painful way. I'd love to use this as an excuse to get some new gear, but it's really unlikely I'd have had it on right then so I don't think even I can justify the expense that way.
Total distance for this epic adventure was almost 8.5 miles with just over 2,700 feet of gain.