Mailbox Peak - Old Trail — Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016
Type of HikeDay hike
Trail ConditionsObstacles on trail:
RoadRoad suitable for all vehicles
SnowSnowfields to cross - could be difficult
The old trail was in decent shape today--it must be seeing regular hiker traffic because there is a pretty defined path up to the junction where the new trail and old trail meet. Past that point, as previous trip reports have mentioned, boot prints scatter left into the forest and right up the talus slope. The gate is closed to the upper parking lot, but the bathrooms up there are open and look to be freshly stocked with toilet paper. The Middle Fork Road was clear to the lower parking areas. There is ice and snow on the parking area south of the Middle Fork Road, but the north side is clear and snow-free. From the parking area, the service road leading up to the trailhead is icy and slick. At the old trailhead kiosk, the trail is clear, with no snow, for about a half mile. After that, intermittent ice and slushy snow starts up in earnest (about 1900 feet). By the time I reached 2500 feet, the trail had fully transitioned to snow. The last quarter mile of the trail is steep and slick. I saw evidence of post-holing but didn't experience any today. At the mailbox, it was frigid--very windy and finger-numbing cold. A fleece hat, neck warmer, winter mittens, and extra fleece layer helped ward off the cold, but not quite. A couple nice gentlemen shared their hot cocoa with me (thank you!). Mount Rainier was playing peek-a-boo in the clouds, and the views along the I-90 corridor were spectacular as usual from the peak--Mount Teneriffe, Mount Si, Rattlesnake Mountain, and nearby peaks were all visible and lovely in their winter coat. All in all, 2.5 hours up, 2.0 hours down. I found microspikes essential today and hiking poles incredibly helpful too. There was one small blowdown near the start of the old trail that is easy to get around. I didn't bring snowshoes and didn't need them today.