Let's see... both Rich and I had to pass on a killer trip invitation, but we were both free Saturday morning... as long as were home by 9am. That kind of limits where we could go unless we were willing to get up stupid early. Like 3:45am. Sure, why not?
So it was Mailbox. My least favorite local peak. Well, maybe not least favorite, but in the lower half in terms of fun. Mailbox always seems to be pain and suffering. This time was no different.
4:45am at the trailhead and shortly after Rich's headlamp disappeared into the inky blackness as I struggled, and failed, to keep up. With Tokul snoring away at home I was all alone with sound of my ragged breathing. At least I had a litany of lousy songs stuck in my head.
A short while later (no, not really, it wasn't a short while) I realized I could see beyond the range of my headlamp. And I was out of the trees and into the beginning of the open slopes of the top 1,000 feet of the mountain.
Unlike the last time I was on Mailbox the summer route was snow free so I was able to hop up the talus rather than climbing through the woods. I could see the summit as Rich arrived there and heard him yell that I could still make it before the sun came up. Hurray! I made it! 10 minutes short of two hours, only 10 minutes behind Rich (though he took the winter route and stopped to put on Microspikes and probably played a game of solitaire while he waited for me), and only slightly (completely and utterly) out of breath.
The sunrise was glorious in a cloud-free sky and Rainier was tinged with pink. The wind was blowing and even though the snow was paltry it was still cold so we didn't linger. It took us an hour and 10 minutes to get down and I rolled into the house in plenty of time for Amy to head to the gym to make her class.
Success in 5.5 miles and 4,100 feet of gain.
Just don't make me do it again.