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Mt. Washington for the birthday
posted by John : February 25, 2010

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Home sweet home

It was just another Thursday, but one with a full moon and a TNAB hike up Mt. Washington (the mountain behind the house) planned for after work. The beauty of still being pretty new at work is nobody knows it's your birthday so you can be mellow. Same goes for most hikers, right? And those that know wouldn't make a big deal of it. Phew. Another bullet dodged.

No surprise, there were a bunch of hikers who had started early as evidenced by their cars at the trailhead, but four of us started together. Joseph is amazingly fast so I didn't figure on seeing him for long. Chris announced he was still trying to heal his foot (four days after summitting Mt. Baker, hmph) so he might not make the top. Matt has hiked with me before so I figured I'd be able to keep up with him. Unfortunately, he had other ideas and kept up with Joseph and again I was in the dark, by myself, wondering if I should have stayed home with Amy to celebrate.

At the Owl Spot (one of the few landmarks on the trail up) Matt let me rejoin him. He had kept up with Joseph for a while, but then gave up and had maintained a one minute lead on me that I just couldn't overcome. We hiked the rest of the way together.

At the creek crossing there was no snow. Shocking.

At the big traverse there was no snow. Shocking.

Where TNAB cuts up the slope bypassing a long winding series of switchbacks on an old road there was no snow so no bypass. Lame.

So we slogged through the slightly increasing snow past a supposed pond and through spots where the wind whipped through the trees. I put on Microspikes more to try them out than because they were needed, but still eschewed a coat in favor of a t-shirt. And gloves. Not logical, but there you go.

Along the way Matt let slip that he knew it was someone's birthday, but not that it was mine. I grudgingly admitted it was I that was freakishly old and moved on. On the switchbacks above us we could see Zeus and Athena's dog lights as well as a few headlamps.

Just below the summit we ran into Josie and Eric who were pushing to beat their target time. We kept going and made the summit in just under two hours. Scott greeted me with a garbage bag shaped suspiciously like a bucket. Hurrah! (Josie was a little put out there was no big ceremony and made some speeches, but I was more interested in the bucket.)

The wind was blowing and it was cold in spite of the lame winter so I layered up and drank up as did most of the others. Many had not had bucket before and were pleasantly surprised at the sweet goodness. Josie also had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (on white bread, of course) for snacks. Clearly there was much collusion.

We didn't linger since it was cold and headed down at a pretty good pace. When we got around the "pond" we were out of the cold and mostly out of the snow so we stopped to take off layers and traction. Out came the bucket for round two. Ah...

Unfortunately, the rest of the descent dragged on (as usual) and changing into dry clothes at the trailhead was chilly, but the Pour House was warm and busy. Josie busted out a lovely hat for me to wear and also a bunch of cupcakes Amy had made. (Did I mention collusion?) It was a work night so I didn't stay too long and managed to get into bed before midnight. Now if only I'd been able to drag Amy to the top it'd have been a perfect birthday celebration. Maybe next year...

Totals were about 7.5 miles and 3,700 feet of gain and one bucket.

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