Ever worry you're going to throw a party and nobody will show up? Yeah, me, too. So I was terrified when I was charged with leading the Washington National Trails Day hike for Tubbs Snowshoes.
Usually, I can guarantee my trail companions because (a) they can't talk (Treen) and/or (b) they have to do what I say (the kids). This time, though, I couldn't force anybody to come hiking with me. I had to actually convince them it would be fun.
Luckily, I had help.
I didn't choose the trail so it wasn't likely to be one of my famed "death marches." It's been a long time since a hike has turned out badly, but my reputation has stuck with me.
Tubbs Snowshoes, TurboPUP, and Kurgo were all providing incentives. Free stuff always brings folks out.
The weather was forecast to be fantastic!
Surprisingly, I lost two of my "guaranteed" hikers when Lilly and Henry opted to hang out with their cousins visiting from the midwest rather than spend yet another day on the trail with me. However, Treen is always up for a hike and Clara decided to come along, too, so I wouldn't be all alone.
At the trailhead we found Kelsey (another "guaranteed" hiker since she's a bigwig at Tubbs) and a friend. Four's still a little thin... but then Terry (another Tubbs Ambassador) showed up and he was followed by a car of four and then another single. Nine's respectable. Especially when we had three dogs to match the three Kurgo water bowls we were provided.
The Beckler Peak trail itself is a strange one. At four miles and about 2,200 feet of gain I was expecting a gradual walk up. Instead, it started with an aggressively pitched road walk that left me wishing I had skimped on my water load. Clara delighted in declaring a need to pause allowing the others to get a ways ahead. Then she'd take off running to rejoin them. I don't run, so I walked with Treen until we slowly caught up.
Where the old road turned into an actual (and beautiful) trail courtesy of WTA's trail work the grade lessens substantially. The trees were bigger and flowers plentiful. We were too early for the blueberries, but that would have just slowed us down.
The final stretch to the summit gets steep again with loads of switchbacks that increase with the prevalence of granite boulders. We had started at 10am, but still beat most of the crowds. Only three others were on the summit when we arrived. As others with dogs arrived we pushed TurboPUP bars and Kurgo swag on them. I had Clara do it so it was well received.
The views were good, but somewhat strange. Rainier was nowhere to be seen, but Glacier Peak was just to the north; the wilderness laid out before us was the Wild Sky, not the Alpine Lakes; and although we were with Tubbs, there was no snow except way up high.
The walk down was easy and quick. I'm always gratified to see the trail that made me breathe hard on the way up really was fairly steep, especially when it speeds our descent.
At the trailhead, we passed out goodies while the dogs just passed out. Tubbs had lots of shirts and hats. TurboPUP had... TurboPUP Complete K9 Meal Bars (mmm... bacon). Kurgo provided us with their Big Baxter backpack (Amazon and Backcountry-K9 affiliate links), which is Treen's new favorite backpack, and Collaps A Bowls. (Of course, the best "swag" was from Mother Nature who provided killer views and blue skies.)
Clara and I passed on an early dinner with the others to get back to the cousins that were already at our house.
Thanks again to Tubbs, TurboPUP, and Kurgo for helping support the hike and the American Hiking Society for sponsoring National Trails Day. If I were you, I'd put June 4, 2016, on your calendar. That way I won't be harassing you to join us for the month leading up to it.