|"...roughly 850 feet of elevation gain per mile,|
960 feet of gain in the last half-mile." ~ wta
also, in warm, dry weather.
both during the same day, over a span of five miles and 4,000 feet of elevation gain.
bill sepeda and i set out from the mailbox peak trailhead to get in ten miles and some steady climbing ~ powerline practice for the orcas island 25k.
the forecast called for standard PNW winter conditions: temps in the mid-40s with a 70% chance of rain.
we dressed accordingly, which is a shorter way of saying we brought everything in the closet except swim fins.
within a mile of steepening trail we were sweating buckets and peeling off layers like we were in hawaii.
within another couple miles we were putting layers back on as snow began falling through the canopy to the trail.
we had no complaints, mind you: the trail itself was completely clear and, as noted many times, running in snow beats running in cold rain 10 times out of 10.
|horizontal snow happens here.|
the wind also picked up, which, unimpeded by trees, caused the snow to fall horizontally. this was less of a hoot, since the wind-whipped snow was now hitting us directly in the face.
increasingly obscured, the scree field became increasingly treacherous as we picked our way through it.
past one false summit, and then another, strong, steady winds were amplified by gusts that rocked us broadside.
climbing in these circumstances was challenging, but not discouraging. but it occurred to both of us that as conditions deteriorated, descending would be a different matter.
|public playground open year-round.|
photo by bill sepeda.
by the time we got back to the trailhead, conditions were mostly as we had left ~ warm(ish), a waft of mist...and very quiet.
it was hard to reconcile with the howling storm less an hour and a few thousand feet above us.
twenty minutes later we were eating burritos at chipotle.