It seems cruel and unusual for a snow-loving pair like me and Treen to be out of the snow for almost three weeks in the middle of January. We hadn't been in the cold since our first day snowshoe trip with the kids on... January 1. 20 days. The horror! (I shouldn't complain too much since I did spend 10 days fishing on the equator and hiking in Hawaii.)
Since I couldn't convince anyone else to go with me early on a Sunday morning with weather that was sketchy at best we returned to our almost-always-safe-to-go-solo destination: Mailbox.
It's been a long time since I've been up Mailbox. I had three trips in April, but since then I had better places to go. Most recently my trips haven't been quite up to the level of Mailbox so I was feeling it as I passed the Vertical Halfway Log and stepped onto the snow. It didn't get really bad until I got to the bottom of the rock slope.
As soon as I stepped out of the trees the wind drove needles of ice into my face reminding me that no matter how much fun the lower sections of the mountain are the exposed slopes are even better. And by "fun" and "better" I'm certainly talking about Type II Fun.
For the first time I followed the new trail through the rock field. It was built to make the peak more accessible and prevent the erosion that all the extra boots were causing. It switchbacks through the talus so I'd get the storm directly in my face for a few hundred feet and then I'd turn my back to the wind. Somehow it would change direction and sneak under my hood. Treen had it worse. Like me, she didn't love the wind hitting her face, but when she turned her back she was a little exposed, if you know what I mean.
There are only a few spots that are sheltered from the wind and we took full advantage of those to rest. Between the wind, the ice, and the occasional thigh-deep drifts it was a slog to get to the summit. Thankfully, the summit is one of the areas that doesn't get the full force of the wind so we rested a few extra moments before heading down.
It wasn't the greatest snowy adventure, but it was a welcome return to winter. With luck, we'll see a whole bunch more snow and a little less wind next time we get up high. Heck, with a lot of luck we'll see a bunch of snow down low, but maybe that's hoping for a little much.