Whenever TNAB tackles a peak that can be had from the backyard I like to give it a shot. It took twice before I did it on Mt. Washington. This time it was Change Peak and I was up for the challenge. Sadly, Tokul's still on the disabled list so she couldn't come. That meant tunes for me as I sped up the Twin Falls trail in hopes of catching TNAB before they turned off the Iron Horse. (Yeah, good luck.)
Just like last time, I was behind schedule and even though I made good time up to the Iron Horse (stopping for a waterfall pic and everything) I was unable to catch them. The first time I climbed Mt. Washington it was on the old trail that crosses the Great Wall. Since then the trail has been rerouted to avoid looping around Change Peak, but the old trail still exists. I turned onto the old trail and without seeing lots of footprints started wondering if maybe I was ahead of everyone else...
Soon enough, I did see prints. Thankfully, in fact. At one turn I was unsure if I needed to make a left or a right and although tracks went in both directions I chose wisely to the left. As the snow grew deeper the tracks were clearer. Finally, a few hundred feet below the summit in what is probably a section of clearcut (hard to tell under the snow) I caught sight of a hiker kicking steps off-trail. Naturally, I followed. (One of these days this behavior is going to get me into trouble, I just know it.)
I passed a couple of folks and finally caught the tail end of the main group just below the summit on a really steep and really icy section. There was some concern about coming down this way in the dark, but with assurances we'd go down differently we all pushed up to the top.
The views were mediocre and not much different than from Mt. Washington itself. However, it was a new peak for me and one I'd wanted to tag for a while since it's fairly prominent when driving on I-90.
As we descended through the trees (after a brief birthday celebration for hiker Larry) to the west of our original approach it began to snow. Just a little at first, then buckets. Big flakes that made me dread the walk home in the rain. What a great idea to hike from home. We looped back to the road and after gathering headed down with great haste. The snow had stopped and we had a bit of a break before it looked like the next snow/rain would fall.
At the Iron Horse we waited to ensure everyone made it out and then when they turned to the east I went west. There's about 100 feet of gain on the way back and each step felt like it was draining the life out of me. Not eating or drinking enough probably contributed to my fatigue as I struggled up the same hill I usually run up. By the time I was home I was ready for bed even more than usual after TNAB.
The next morning I made it to work before I started feeling really lousy. By the afternoon I had a fever and the rest of the weekend I was pretty useless.
Total distance was about 12 miles and 4,000 feet of gain. I'm going to try to take some good advice from a wise man who said, "And now I don't have to do that again," but given that was me after the last time I did this I don't think it's gonna stick.