Blah. Dirty Harry's Peak isn't a favorite of anyone I know. In fact, several die-hard TNAB hikers turned down a Thursday night hike rather than return to the trail. However, hiking time for me is running short with Bob's impending arrival so I was at the trailhead a little early. (Amy and the girls were at NanaPapa's house.)
Just a month ago Lilly, Tokul, and I went to Dirty Harry's Balcony. It was chilly, but dry. This time it seemed it might be dry and warm enough to hike in just a t-shirt. As the group of 13 (uh-oh) headed up the trail I felt a couple of raindrops, but refused to accept it and continued on without a jacket. (Yes, I had plenty of gear in reserve.)
The hike to the Balcony was the same as last time. Boring, ankle-twisting, but quick. 45 minutes of quick walking and Mark, the TNAB leader, set a flag on the trail showing those following us which way to go.
It'd been almost six years since I'd been beyond the Balcony. In October of 2001 Dan and I had headed up in lousy weather to find there were no views. Surely, it wouldn't happen that way again, right?
At about 3,800 feet the snow was constant over the trail. Tokul had no problem on the slippery snow, but it was a little harder walking even than the rocky trail for the rest of us.
Soon the rain began in earnest and I stopped to put on my fleece. Waterproof, windproof and my constant hiking companion almost as long as Tokul... but suddenly the zipper was toast. Oh, the humanity!
Finally at the summit we (I) indulged in brownies and put on a rain jacket and pants. We had seen one of our usual group heading down (he had started early) and five of us were on the summit. Just like last time, there was nothing to look at other than a few cool trees partially hidden by the clouds.
After just a few minutes we started down. Walking down in the tracks we had used coming up was a little nasty. I opted to break new trail plunge stepping down the hill. About five minutes off the summit we ran into two other hikers. They chose to turn around so we continued down.
Shortly we had to put on headlamps, but hardly stopped to do it. We broke into a couple of different groups, but kept on making good time. As bad as it was going up, it was less fun going down. The rocks seemed more slippery and treacherous. Sooner than I expected it, Tokul disappeared and I saw lights indicating we'd run into someone. Don, the early hiker, and Yet were waiting on the paved road about a half a mile from the cars.
We hung out until the rest of the group arrived. After a quick count to make sure we had everyone off the mountain we rolled back to the cars and found two others there. They had gone to the Balcony and come back down, but had carpooled to the trailhead so they were stuck hanging out and were even locked out of their ride. Bummer.
In the end it had taken about two hours up and about an hour and a half down. The guidebooks indicate it's about 11 miles and 3,400 feet of gain, though that seems long to me.