Toward the end of the season after-work hikes get shorter to accomodate the shorter days. Makes sense, right? Well, it makes sense unless you're crazy enough to try to fit a normal-length hike into that same timeframe.
The week before I started early and followed Clara up Rampart Ridge. This week it was Mt. Margaret. It's the same general area and a similarly short hike, though not nearly as visually amazing. I didn't get out as early as I hoped and started with the rest of the hikers.
I'm not the fastest anymore (was I ever really?), but I managed to keep up with most of the group. When we reached the turnoff to Margaret Mountain I kept going.
"Where are you going?"
"I'm going to Twin Lakes to meet Eric and Steve! Are you coming?"
It was just me and Treen. Honestly, had I realized it was about 700 feet down to Twin Lakes I don't know that I would have continued. 700 feet down means 700 feet back up.
Treen was thrilled to swim in the lake while I watched Eric and Steve descend what was pretty much a near vertical slope of green. The Twin Lakes were amazingly cold for the first week of September. There's almost no sunlight in the deep valley so it just never warms up.
The reason Eric and Steve had pushed the limits to tag an extra peak was because (a) they're crazy and (b) they're fast. Even though they'd climbed an extra thousand feet I still had trouble keeping up with them. Speed just isn't my thing. Strength is my thing. That and a stubborn streak that keeps me pushing until I fall over or get to the top.
We followed a gully up the ridge before we got to the "official" trail and it was far better than that trail. Even though Mt. Margaret is on the signs at the trailhead the way up to the peak is lousy.
The view from the top, though, is pretty good. We could look back on the lakes and the peak (colloquially known as "Southeast Rampart"). To the south was Mt. Rainier and the tip of Mt. Adams poking up over the rest of the Cascades. When the sun set it was a deep orange with not a cloud in the sky.
I'm not the fastest hiker nor the most adventurous. But as long as I can still get into the mountains to see sunsets like these I'll keep hiking. I just need my legs to hold out long enough that the kids can carry my gear.