Benson pinged me at 6:49 PM Friday evening, just as I was about to set our to Murphys Pub in Wallingford to see my good friend Glenn’s wife Tami perform Irish music with her band Cavort, https://www.cavortceltic.com/, and said we were on for a Dawn Patrol the next day, not Sunday. This meant an alpine start – 5:30 AM was the agreed time. Ohhh jeez, Irish beer was on the agenda, a potentially late evening, and I was not packed. Five beers and 3 and a half hours of sleep later I was packed and we headed out from downtown Seattle to the trailhead.
We hit the trail at 6:19 AM. Needless to say, after a Cable Line run and a 9+ mile loop on Squawk Mountain within the past week and Guinness, Corned Beef, and Cabbage, I advised Benson that I would be a bit slow today, but looking forward to another summit of MBP. I felt the lack of recovery in my calves and ass – when I climb it’s a tradeoff of technique and what muscles I choose to use to move up the mountain – today both were burning hot.
This is my 12th time up the trail so I recall and am familiar with many of the landmarks, tres, roots, rocks, blowdowns, mud, foliage, talus, heathers, snow patches – so with the passing of each of these I was finally warming up, burning off Guinness calories, and sloooooowly making progress.
I often take a photo of this burned-out tree on each summit, which is about 600 feet up or so – the trail gains elevation in earnest from here. Now the fun begins. I am now finally smiling.
On our way up we ran into some climbing friends and others we know online from PeakBaggers – I met Hayley Derr, and we stopped and chatted with Mel Fernandez and Ethan with whom we climbed Sloan Peak last summer. Seems many folks are climbing Mailbox very often. Mel was working on a threepeat – 3 summits in one day which she rocked. Plus we had a chance to discuss some future climbing goals and set the stage for some future joint climbs. BTW Sloan Peak was one of Benson’s and my favorite climbs from last summer.
Well I continued upwards, getting passed by all – no pride today as I was just happy to keep climbing and eventually summit.
From here I just pushed onwards and upwards.
The forecast called for rain, so we were very happy to have such great weather. As I plodded up the final steps, many folks descending always say “You’re almost there”. My inner voice says “Yes jackass, I know this as I been up to the summit double digits”, but I just smile and say thank you – actually the words of encouragement were welcome today as my calves were killing me.
We have climbed many peaks within view and plan to knock most of the remainder in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Home Court 100 accessible from both the Middle Fork and North Fork this year. We lingered on the summit for about 15 minutes, then made our way down.
Another future traverse may be in the works to connect Mailbox Peak to Granite – essentially traversing the entire North Ridge of the I90 Peaks from Northbend to Snoqualmie Pass. I think I would prefer this type of project vs. multiple ascents of MBP. We ran into many fellow PNW PeakBaggers and was fun to put names to faces today. Benson likened this experience and route to a gym where one frequently runs into others they know and can workout together – as much as I sometimes loath this climb, it was great to bag it with Benson, our first one together, and also see online acquaintances. I suspect this won’t be my last climb of MBP and I look forward to eventually breaking 2 hours up and setting a new PR. Sadly we were short on time as Benson had to get to his son’s soccer game so we missed out on the traditional post-hike snack of a spicy Popeyes Chicken Sandwich – next time. As always, thank you for #hikingwithhadland. Cheers, #TheHad