Actually, it turned out not to be as bad as we feared. And by "we" I mean the two of us that actually showed up for the October night hike. With September over we have switched from a weekly scheduled to monthly and Granite Mountain was our destination.
Granite has turned out some spectacular trips in the past. I've even identified it as my favorite west-side, I-90 hike. But this was not to be one of those hikes. Instead, this was an exercise in dedication and fortitude of the intestinal variety.
The only other hiker that showed up was Andy. This was pretty much a worst case scenario for me. Not because Andy's a jerk. Far from it. He's one of the nicest guys I know. But he's fast. In fact, he may be the fastest guy I know. So fast he walks up Mailbox faster than anyone else and carries on a conversation while he does it.
I kept up with Andy for the first mile and a half. I was pretty pleased with myself even though the first mile is easy and I only lasted a half mile on the hard steep ascent. Treen was torn between going fast and being loyal, but stuck with me. Tokul wouldn't have given it a second thought. She loved getting to the top with whoever went quickest.
Along the way the rain dripped and the wind blew a bit, but not too much. It wasn't until I got up into the meadows that it became truly chilly. On the upside, I was working hard enough to stay warm and I had transitioned my pack to its winter load. (Rain pants, extra socks, hat, balaclava, heavy gloves, puffy, rain coat, etc.) Not so for the two that emerged from the thick fog. Between them they had one thin coat and one dim headlamp. On the upside, they'll learn a lesson, stock up at REI, and be better prepared next time.
Andy waited for me on the summit and knew I was close when he saw the glow in the fog wind its way through the basin. I wasn't so sure. The area is usually so familiar and wonderful, but in the thick fog everything seemed foreign. Once on the summit I had a drink or two and we turned for home.
Back in the basin, the fog cleared and the stars emerged, but there were no views. We only slowed near the Wilderness boundary to look for Treen's light that she knocked off while rubbing on the grass. I figured we'd find a glowing green light in the pitch dark, but no luck. (Perhaps it helped the others make it back to their car.)
Sometimes the trail doesn't deliver amazing views, great colors, or cuddly wildlife. But there's always adventure as long as you're willing to go looking for it.
(And yes, the day after we hiked in this miserable weather it was clear and calm. Of course.)