Archive for April, 2011

Checking the Mail

Posted on April 28th, 2011 by Jo  |  Comments Off

Mailbox TNAB
Yukon430sw photo used with permission, please respect all copyrights

Special Thanks to Guest Trip Reporter Yukon:

Mailbox. Mailbox. Mailbox. It cannot be avoided and just when you think you are safe for a few more weeks, it is suddenly announced as an Emergency Alternate for this week’s hike! Hah! (Due to avalanche concerns, the original destination was flipped for the safer Mailbox.)

Another large solid group of TNAB’ers hiked up the gated road, past the washout repair (fine – no issues there now) and rechecked gear at the trailhead sign. A few sighs were issued, then onward and upward!! The occasional suckerhole appeared in the sky, but only briefly else they wouldn’t be suckerholes!! :-) Clouds continued to thicken and little hope remained for any sunset views.

Very slick compacted snow at around 3000′ elevation meant most TNAB’ers mounted up their microspikes or crampons. Better progress with no “2 steps forward, 1/2 step slip back, repeat”. Broke out into the open area before the false summit with just intermittent postholing thru the talus. A narrow boot track (snowshoes weren’t needed) carved thru the deep soft slushy snow and we all soon reached the very foggy summit block. The Mailbox lay buried beneath the unusually deep May snow.

A light chilling wind flowed over the summit as we naively “waited” to see if the Sun would grace us with a sunset view. A few hardy souls held out a bit longer but in the end, the Sun was more stubborn and set without piercing thru the clouds. A couple of slipslides thru the icy snow in the heavy trees and then just the long relentless downhill grade over the exposed tree roots to the trailhead. Naturally a PourHouse visit afterwards to warm up and hoist a few adult beverages.

Trail details, NOAA weather, driving directions, maps and past trip reports can be found here: Mailbox Peak Info

Still Snowing on Si

Posted on April 21st, 2011 by Jo  |  1 Comment »

Mt Si Snow Storm
Zeusdaddy photo used with permission, please respect all copyrights

Special Thanks to Guest Trip Reporter Yukon:

So far this year, the TNAB weather has been poor, fair, crappy, ugh, “oh no” plus a bunch of the 7 words you can’t say on the radio. This hike wasn’t any different! Lots of folks on the trail early, plus a bunch of speedsters starting later who’d end up blazing past the others up the Old Trail. Heavy clouds and rain drizzling down from the sky didn’t provide much motivation to stop and take pictures so it was just a steady grind up the Old Trail.

The OT has been holding up fairly well thru this wet Spring with just a few large mud puddles to dodge down lower in the flatter sections. And not very slick on the ascent until the ground turned icy from the packed snow. Light snow began to fall just before the intersection with the New Trail. No real new accumuluation; more annoying than anything else as we are all ready to enjoy the warm temps of Summer.

Just managed to grab everyone together at the bench beneath the Haystack for a quick summit shot before the group split up for the descent. A few minutes down from the summit, we passed a TNAB newbie sorting gear along the trail. (He pushed on to the summit and eventually rejoined us down at the parking lot.) No wildlife sightings; just plenty of dogs and laughter to keep us occupied on the steep descent. Snow changed to a steady rain as we dropped elevation and the temperature stayed in the high 30′s all the way back down to the trailhead. And then off to the PourHouse for “refreshments”!!

Trail details, NOAA weather, driving directions, maps and past trip reports can be found here: Mt Si (Old Trail) Info

Anti-Avy Adventure

Posted on April 14th, 2011 by Jo  |  5 Comments »

Our "summit" for the night
Zeusdaddy photo used with permission, please respect all copyrights

Special Thanks to Guest Trip Reporter EWB:

Spring: The New Winter!

So sayeth ZeusDaddy after surveying the surreal arctic conditions surrounding us upon our return to the summer trail. And it was funny, because it was true. The calendar said April 14th, but the weather said January 10th. Or February 3rd. It was deep winter with falling snow, a cold wind, variously vacating extremities, and multiple feet of mostly unconsolidated Cascade slop. And there in the middle of it all, on a lonely and darkening trail on Mt Washington, stood a handful of the TNAB faithful. On snowshoes. Heads bent against the stinging snow. Enjoying every minute of it.

It began badly enough, in a steady cold rain alongside Homestead Valley Road, below the Olallie State Park parking lot, which is inexplicably reserved for “day use only”. There ZeusDaddy (sans Zeus and Athena), Larry (plus Digger), GQ Hiker, Weimar Steve (and the pups), and I changed into our hiker boyz uniforms and hit the trail. Larry took off a little early, Steve a little late, but we all arrived at the Owl Hike Spot at about the same time. Blessedly, about half way there, the rain and ground both turned to snow, the former as large graceful flakes, the latter as easy trekking slush over a fairly firm trench.

Altogether we proceeded to and over the creek, around the switchback and up to the second creek crossing. The faint trench we’d been following faded, except for the path beaten down by ZeusDaddy’s snowshoes, which he’d donned a couple hundred yards before. Larry and I climbed into our snowshoes at this point, too, while ZeusDaddy began smashing trail straight uphill, followed by GQ Hiker and Steve in post-holie boots. Larry and I were soon shod and stomping up ZeusDaddy’s track, ogling Steve and GQ Hiker’s knee-deep post-holes. Before long we caught GQ Hiker, who had stopped to put on his shoes, and shortly after we all caught ZeusDaddy and Steve at the road near the pond.

Here we learned of Steve’s plan to turn back. His excuse was that he’d forgotten his headlamp. Of course, we all carry extras and offered them up, but he demurred, saying, “Yeah, I figured you all would have spares, so I also forgot my snowshoes.” Touché, Mr. I’d-rather-eat-dinner-with-my-wife. We bid Steve and the pups adieu and proceeded up the road toward its intersection with the north ridge.

ZeusDaddy laid track for us like a machine, ceaselessly cutting into a foot or more of barely supportive goo. After a while he stepped aside and I led, realizing for the first time the extreme effort required (and this on a now very gentle grade). This was short lived, though, as my stride proved too short for these Giants of the Northwest. Joseph soon moved out front and led us to the hard left turn around the ridge, which proved too messy to ascend. On good advice from Larry we retreated a bit then turned right and put ZeusDaddy to work again, this time swimming up the slope in waist-deep mush cutting a path into the trees.

After we wore out our ZeusDaddy plow, GQ Hiker and Larry moved into the lead, kicking a way for us up and around the trees until finally, after much thrashing, they found the spine of the more gentle north ridge. From there we meandered along the ridge, captivated by its beautifully flocked trees, tripping over its many hidden man-traps, until finally exhausting our time and turning for home around 800′ below the summit.

GQ Hiker marked the turn-around spot by falling into a waist-deep tree well and getting his right snowshoe caught. While he struggled to dig himself out, we checked out our surroundings, consulted maps, added layers, got drinks and snacks, and such. After a while we took pity on him and dove in to help free his foot, then watched as he spent even more time digging out the shoe. It was suggested that we mark a GPS waypoint and come back for it in the summer, but he finally got it out, though one of his poles didn’t survive the melee.

After a couple of pics and some final thoughts, we headed back, with Larry and Digger out front. The return was mostly uneventful, with only minor thrills coming off the ridge to the old road. The going was considerably easier and quicker in our well packed trench. Soon we were back at the pond, then down to the summer trail, where in addition to noting Spring’s new winter gig, ZeusDaddy also pointed out how well we could still see without headlamps after 8:30PM. And this too was funny, because it was true, and a little sad. If it weren’t for the wind and snow and cold one might have thought summer, with its long long days, was nearly upon us.

The shoes were dropped and headlamps lit just before the creek crossing, and the rest of the descent was a long quiet contemplative march. Later, at the Pour House, stories were shared, plans made, beers drunk, and fries and chicken tenders eaten. Well, except for that last one, because it looked eerily like Joe Camel.

By the numbers, it was 6.8 miles roundtrip and 2,325′ of gain. By the adventure, it was one to remember.

Scott Plows Mt WA
Ewb photo used with permission, please respect all copyrights

Trail details, NOAA weather, driving directions, maps and past trip reports can be found here: Mt Washington Info

Choose Your Own Rattlemountain

Posted on April 7th, 2011 by Jo  |  5 Comments »

DSE_5352 Tower of TNAB'ers
Yukon430sw photo used with permission, please respect all copyrights

Rattlesnake Mt East Peak:

Guest TR and Group Photo by Yukon

The trail to the Ledges was in good condition, especially considering the very wet and cool Spring we’ve experienced. After a quick snack break on the 2nd ledge, we pressed onward and upward to the Peak. Snow sparsely covered the ground in the thick forest immediately above the Ledges but quickly deepened. In less than a mile, the snow was easily 24” deep. Fortunately, there was still a good boot track carved deep into the snow.

As we approached the summit area, a light snow began to fall. Hard to believe it was early April as we looked around at the buildings and towers covered in the fresh snowfall!! At least 36” of snow on the ground at the summit. No sunset views from the TNAB summit this time as the clouds and snow showed zero sign of letting up anytime soon. A few snacks were consumed and warmer jackets put on before a quick descent back down to the trailhead.

Upper Ledges:

Guest TR and Photos by Jo
Celebrate Your Youth!
Dani’s birthday and TNAB converged this week so she & I ascended just high enough to watch the valley undergo a rinse cycle while we enjoyed some bubbly and views under a light snow. We stayed for such a stretch that we expected to spot returning headlamps from the high summiteers on our descent but didn’t see another TNAB face until the beer was pouring at the pub.
Let's Stay Awhile

Full Traverse of Rattlesnake Mt:

Guest TR and Photos by Moosefish
End of the trench
What is the nature of TNAB? Is it merely the act of hiking fast on a Thursday night?
Is it challenging yourself to see what can really do?
Is it a success if you are at the summit in time for the group shot or is it all about the cheesy tots?
Should you bring snowshoes?
Can you just follow the ridge?
Can you trust the hikers in front of you?
Will your dog growl at you the next morning?
Will your work friends understand the droop in your eyes and the reststeps up the stairs?
Will these questions ever be answered?
Will they?
(This should probably be the end of this, shouldn’t it?)

Team Bad Plan met at the Rattlesnake Lake trailhead at 5:04pm, exactly as planned. While EWB managed a confused Treen, Moosefish hurriedly changed from respectable office drone to scuzzy backwoods ninja-wannabee (all black, of course) and they drove to the Snoqualmie Point trailhead.

Half the team declared snowshoes were aid (and so are dogs on leash) and decided not to bring them. Names will be left to the imagination, but it wasn’t the guy who allegedly fell on Tiger last week. (And yes, there’s a libel suit pending.) Just as they were about to head up, WxMan joined the team along with Bear. Treen and Bear hit it off and except for a few incidents in which Bear forgot just how wide he was with his pack it was good puppy play.

TBP was now 35 minutes behind the hoped for departure time so they hustled up the snow-free trail in the pouring rain. Then it was sunny, then just hot and wet. The snow began at about 1,600 feet when they entered the trees and would last until the Upper Ledges.

Turning a corner it was exclaimed, “We’re almost at Grand Prospect! Half way!” It was welcome news even if it wasn’t true. 30 minutes later they finally arrived Grand Prospect and faced the grand prospect of increasingly hard travel, missing the group at the summit, and the need for snowshoes.

When the existing track finally stopped TBP donned the one pair of snowshoes they had and continued on. Suddenly the three pounds on the back seemed a worthwhile investment, though they were heavier on the feet. Better than postholing, at any rate. The faint trail grew fainter with new snow and the failing light until it was gone completely. No worries, just follow the ridge. Except the ridge goes to the wrong place.

Snowshoes had made it too easy to go quickly, too easy to get out of earshot, and too easy to be standing on a highpoint with nowhere to go but straight down. (Way, way down.) Retreat along a road with waist-deep snow for the unshoed led back to the trail and then through a tunnel of trees that went on forever. Fully dark there was nowhere to go but forward now that they were more than half way. Depression set in until the final kissing gate and the realization there was a packed trench just ahead.

The TBP group shot was little more than headlamps in the dark and then it was a race down the mountain. Being 45 minutes late leaving East Peak meant they arrived at the Lower Ledges as the rest of the group got to the parking lot. More jogging delivered them after four and a half hours of “the hardest 2,700 feet ever.”

And now, the answers:

Dunno.
No.
Kind of.
Nobody eats cheesy tots anymore.
Yes.
No.
No.
Yes.
No.
Yes.
I said, “Yes.”
Yes.
Group shot

Trail details, NOAA weather, driving directions, maps and past trip reports can be found here: Rattlesnake Mt (East Peak) Info

Weeeeee’re Great!

Posted on April 1st, 2011 by Jo  |  10 Comments »

West Tiger #3
West Tiger #2 West Tiger #1
Zeusdaddy photos used with permission, please respect all copyrights

Special Thanks to Guest Trip Reporter EWB:

Despite the NOAA’s dire forecast for high winds and heavy rain, fourteen
hearty souls turned out at West Tiger Mountain on the eve of April Fool’s
Day for TNAB’s second regularly scheduled adventure of the year.  As
expected, the weather was miserable, with hurricane force winds, lashing
rain, and near zero visibility.  The trek up Cableline to summit 3 was
brutal, like swimming up a strong cold mountain stream, and the way to
summits 2 and 1 were a death march, with roped-up TNABers straining for
their lives into nature’s unmerciful gaping maw.  We lost a number of
dedicated hikers on Tiger last night.  Some of them will be missed.

Oh, that’s just the April Fool’s talking.  In reality, the weather was quite
pleasant, certainly better than expected.  A brisk wind on the summits, but
not too cold, and not a drop of wet from above (though as Snutur later
pointed out, plenty from the brow).  Even the trails were comparatively good
given the volume of rain in recent days, with the usual Cableline mess to
begin but only some muddy spots beyond that in the saddles and on the lower
TMT.

Lots of preNABers spread out along the Cableline to start, with three
leaving on the six o’clock mark and two just after.  All but the last two
arrived on summit 3 in time for snacks and a group pic, and a brief glimpse
of a cloud-shrouded sunset.  There were many returning TNAB veterans,
including some not seen since last year, and one new victim, er, person.
The last two arrived just after the pic, and two others took the opportunity
to turn for home.  The remaining twelve humans, and their seven bounding
hounds, buckled up and booted themselves over to summit 2, where a second
pic was shot.  Then it was once more into the saddle for a quick parade to
summit 1 near the hut for more pics, snacks, and general merriment.

The descent was long and steady, and mostly uneventful.  We returned to
summit 2, turned right, added headlamps, and proceeded down to Tom’s Crotch
(tread lightly), then to Karate 3000, the TMT, and out the last bit of
Cableline.  Lots of mingling and joking along the congo line and breaks at
the junctions helped pass the time and brighten the gang’s spirits as
thoughts turned to dry clothes, cold beers, and warm food.  The final
Cableline descent proved the toughest and slowest part of the night.  It was
in much worse shape than on the earlier ascent, very muddy and slippery,
perhaps owing to the OSAT army that descended after we passed.  Or zombies.
Yeah, probably the zombies.

With a quick change of clothes and tiger-sized appetites, the entire
company, sans doggies and one summit 3 retreater, descended on the Issaquah
Brew House for suds and grubs.  We had expected to join the brewery’s 11th
anniversary party, with live music and free beer and strippers and such, but
discovered upon arrival that we were a week too soon.  Apparently our
pouting about this was not for naught, though, as the brewery did offer us a
token discount on our beers.  And, you know, the only thing better than a
$5.75 pint of Dead Guy Ale is a $5.00 pint of Dead Guy Ale, am I right?  No?
Haters.  Nonetheless, merriment was in good supply amongst the loquacious
postNAB partiers, with gripping tales of Peruvian penguin tacos and sugar
daddy grooming habits and float glass overflow recovery techniques
(achtongue, baby!) heard and seen among the table’s varied topics.

A great night with a great group.  Thanks to all for a wonderful time!

(Oh, and John fell on his butt – haha!)

Trail details, NOAA weather, driving directions, maps and past trip reports can be found here: West Tiger Trio Info