What is the nature of TNAB? Is it merely the act of hiking fast on a Thursday night? Is it challenging yourself to see what can really do? Is it a success if you are at the summit in time for the group shot or is it all about the cheesy tots?
Should you bring snowshoes? Can you just follow the ridge? Can you trust the hikers in front of you?
Will your dog growl at you the next morning? Will your work friends understand the droop in your eyes and the reststeps up the stairs?
Will these questions ever be answered?
(This should probably be the end of this, shouldn't it?)
Team Bad Plan met at the Rattlesnake Lake trailhead at 5:04pm, exactly as planned. While EWB managed a confused Treen, Moosefish hurriedly changed from respectable office drone to scuzzy backwoods ninja-wannabee (all black, of course) and they drove to the Snoqualmie Point trailhead.
Half the team declared snowshoes were aid (and so are dogs on leash) and decided not to bring them. Names will be left to the imagination, but it wasn't the guy who allegedly fell on Tiger last week. (And yes, there's a libel suit pending.) Just as they were about to head up, WxMan joined the team along with Bear. Treen and Bear hit it off and except for a few incidents in which Bear forgot just how wide he was with his pack it was good puppy play.
TBP was now 35 minutes behind the hoped for departure time so they hustled up the snow-free trail in the pouring rain. Then it was sunny, then just hot and wet. The snow began at about 1,600 feet when they entered the trees and would last until the Upper Ledges.
Turning a corner it was exclaimed, "We're almost at Grand Prospect! Half way!" It was welcome news even if it wasn't true. 30 minutes later they finally arrived Grand Prospect and faced the grand prospect of increasingly hard travel, missing the group at the summit, and the need for snowshoes.
When the existing track finally stopped TBP donned the one pair of snowshoes they had and continued on. Suddenly the three pounds on the back seemed a worthwhile investment, though they were heavier on the feet. Better than postholing, at any rate. The faint trail grew fainter with new snow and the failing light until it was gone completely. No worries, just follow the ridge. Except the ridge goes to the wrong place.
Snowshoes had made it too easy to go quickly, too easy to get out of earshot, and too easy to be standing on a highpoint with nowhere to go but straight down. (Way, way down.) Retreat along a road with waist-deep snow for the unshoed led back to the trail and then through a tunnel of trees that went on forever. Fully dark there was nowhere to go but forward now that they were more than half way. Depression set in until the final kissing gate and the realization there was a packed trench just ahead.
The TBP group shot was little more than headlamps in the dark and then it was a race down the mountain. Being 45 minutes late leaving East Peak meant they arrived at the Lower Ledges as the rest of the group got to the parking lot. More jogging delivered them after four and a half hours of "the hardest 2,700 feet ever."
And now, the answers:
Nobody eats cheesy tots anymore.
I said, "Yes."