It's Thursday. In the winter. 75% of the time (roughly) that means little. But that one Thursday each month means it's time for a TNAB Lunatique trip. Tonight's destination: Mason Lake.
Wait. Not Mt. Everest? K2? Not even Mailbox?
Nope. Just little old Mason Lake. A nice, easy relaxing trip. Especially with heavy snow predicted.
Eric said he was leaving the trailhead early. As I was leaving the house with Treen I heard Amy talking to Josie so she was out, too. I pulled into the surprisingly snow-free trailhead and saw only Eric's cold car there. Uh oh. I'm almost always late. Now I was first. Was I going to have to chase after Eric solo? Certainly I couldn't abandon him to the dangerous that were everywhere. Heck, was Scott going to show? Maybe he and Josie were both bailing.
Never fear, just after Treen was let loose to terrorize the parking lot's sticks Scott rolled up with Zeus and Athena. The dogs had a blast just in the parking lot. Treen explored high up the slope on the far side before we gave up on anyone else showing up and took off.
Light snow on the trail started before the junction with the old trail, then getting progressively snowier. First it was nice to walk on, then gnarlier and gnarlier. At its worst it was an inch or two of fresh snow on hard, pitted ice. Traction was difficult and ankle-turny. Then we got to the point where the snow got better and better. Soon we were in fluffy snow. Not deep enough to get the snowshoes off our backs, but still fun. Especially for the dogs.
Zeus led, as usual. Athena swept, as usual. Treen made the most of her young legs and ran back and forth between us all.
We caught Eric just above the talus field before the headwall. Our new three-man, three-dog TNAB crew kicked steps up the steep and into the open flat forest just before the lake. With the exception of navigating through the scrub trees just before the lake it was an easy and fun walk.
We'd seen the moon bright above us as we made our way to the lake, but upon arriving the snow really began dumping and it went black. We hung out for a while, the dogs played, and then we called it a night.
At the intersection with the real trail that climbs over the shoulder and then down some open slopes we considered making it a lollipop, but decided with the clouds there was little value in going the long way. No soon had we dropped into the valley did the clouds part and the stars light up the sky. It would have been glorious on the open slopes. Dang.
Back at the trailhead we found a couple of inches of new snow, but not enough to be worrisome for the drive home. We did get treated to a beautiful drive heading out, though. Even the recently thinned forest was glowing. Pour House and home. All in a night's work.
Total distance was about four miles and 2,220 feet of gain.
Weekly TNAB begins next month. Time to get back in shape.