Sometimes there's no explaining what makes a hike exceptional.
Bandera isn't an epic mountain and we didn't even wind up on the true summit. The weather was good and so was the company. Climbing the familiar trail exercised muscles and lungs, but wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Hilarity at the summit is commonplace even when someone falls off a minor cornice and misses being in the summit pic.
When we turned for home, though, the setting sun lit up the snow and the trees and the sky. From the summit we walked down a snow covered ridge with Mason Lake far below and Seattle silhouetted by light reflected off Puget Sound.
Since I wasn't planning on heading to the Pour House I opted to linger on the mountain to take pictures and I wasn't disappointed. My walk out was dark, but I had good company from other dedicated photographers and we wound up catching up with the rest of the crew at the trailhead.
The only aspect of the evening that wasn't ideal was the realization that there is no way I could make this my career. For some reason, nobody is willing to pay me to go out and hike. So while there's a mortgage and ballet lessons and kids growing out of shoes this will be just a hobby, but I do have a saved search on Monster for "hiking professional."
My fingers are crossed.
Total distance was about 6.8 miles and 3,000 feet of gain.