Mailbox Peak Hike, December 2014

Mailbox Peak
Date: December 27, 2014
Difficulty: 9 out of 10
Distance: 7.5 Miles / 12 Kilometers Roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 4,000 feet / 1,219 Meters
Time: 4 to 5 hours
Location: Near North Bend, Washington
Users Group: Hikers & Dogs Only
Permits: Discovery Pass
Trail Conditions: Wet to Snow-packed
Hiking With: Paul Bates, Carl Brandt, Gustav Brandt, Mike Curry, Emelie Espling and Rick Massie

My friend Emelie Espling had two friends from Sweden visiting and I thought I would introduce them to the thigh pounding Mailbox Peak. The last time I hiked the Mailbox was a year ago August with Rick Massie so I was past due for some grueling physical exertion. Our group consisted of Paul Bates, Mike Curry, Emelie Espling, Rick Massie, Carl and Gustav Brandt from Sweden.

The new trail wasn’t open the last time I was here so I was looking forward to the new 5 mile trail on the descent to save on the knees. The young men from Sweden was quick to take off and we eventually saw them again about 100 yards from the Mailbox on their descent. The last 1000 feet of elevation was snow packed with blizzard like conditions on the final push to the summit.

Kudos to the many WTA volunteers that constructed the new 5 mile route to the top, but after seeing the many ill equipped “tourist” hikers in their running shoes I think Mailbox Peak will see more rescues. The majority people that came up the new easy route didn’t have the proper gear to summit this intimidating peak and only putting themselves and others at risk. I first started hiking Mailbox Peak 13 years ago when there was only a toothbrush marking the trailhead; you only came across bonafide hikers and many climbers training for Mount Rainier, sadly WTA has created another Mt. Si.

Our group took the new longer route down which was nice on the legs but it seemed to go on forever! We ended our hike in a heavy downpour and eventually found ourselves at the North Bend Bar & Grill for cold beers and warm grub.

Camp Muir Hike, June 2013

Camp Muir
Date: June 4, 2013
Difficulty: 9 out of 10
Distance: 10 Miles / 16 Kilometers Roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 4,600 Feet / 1,402 Meters
Time: 6 to 7 hours
Location: Near Longmire, Washington
Users Group: Hikers / Climbers Only
Permits: National Park Pass
Trail Conditions: Snow All The Way
Hiking With: Me and Gustav Brandt

I told myself that the first sunny day in June, I was going to knock off Camp Muir….well that sunny day happened today. I usually hike up to the base camp once a year only when I know it’s going to be a beautiful sunny day. Damn….was it sunny too, I thought I applied enough sun block but I must have been wiping it off with my glove because I ended up looking like a cooked lobster on my forehead and nose.

Hiking up a long snow route all day can be boring unless you have another person to enjoy the pain with you. My hiking partner today was Gustav Brandt, a young man from Malmo, Sweden. He is currently an exchange student living with a co-worker friend of mine in Seattle in the Capital Hill neighborhood. This was his first time on Mt. Rainier and I know he will be back next year to ascend beyond Camp Muir for the summit.