Washington Hikes: Mailbox Peak

IMG_3113_LUCiDIt seems like Mailbox Peak has been on our list of must-do hikes forever. We’ve been putting it off in part because it’s a long one– taking the New Trail puts the overall hike at just over 11 miles round trip. It’s also considered a fairly tough one since you experience 5,000 feet of elevation gain during your 5.5 miles to the peak, climbing about 850 feet per mile.

Believe it or not, this takes the average bear (i.e. us!) several hours to do. We needed a day where we had both the time and inclination to tackle this one– and this past weekend we finally had both!

We got to the trailhead at 7:30 a.m.— there were only a handful of cars and we had no trouble finding a parking spot. Despite all of the warnings about how popular and crowded this hike gets, we had the trail almost entirely to ourselves on our hike up and only came across a handful of people on our way back down.

I’m sure this was in part due to the fact that it was a foggy day–we knew we just weren’t going to have the stunning panoramic views at the top that we’ve experienced on some of our other hikes. We decided actually making it to the mailbox would be enough of a reward this time!

The majority of our hike it didn’t matter that it was foggy– we were in the woods and got to enjoy some massive old growth trees, a number of mini waterfalls, and the quiet and solitude of the well-maintained trail.

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The last section of the trail was where reality set in for me. We made great progress until we reached the boulder field where we had to locate and follow the rocks with a slightly different color to them marking the path toward the peak.

On other trails there have been occasional sign posts pointing you in the right direction–here we had to pay close attention until we came back to the dirt trail. Not easy as the fog grew thicker and our vision grew limited!

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After the boulder field there was a short scramble to the top that nearly broke me–I had to keep stopping to catch my breath and wasn’t sure I was going to make it.

Suddenly Brian encouraged me to look up and there is was — the mailbox! I honestly felt tears in my eyes; I was so excited. I picked up the pace the last few yards until I could collapse next to the mailbox. You can see my beautiful, sweaty, gleaming red skin in the pictures below–and a smile on my face. We had finally made it!

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Despite all of the hard work getting there we didn’t stay on the peak for long since we couldn’t see a darn thing! Brian did take a moment to explore the contents of the mailbox, but I can’t disclose his discoveries. You’ll have to climb up there and see for yourself!

My knees always hate descents and this was no exception— I was in pain after a couple of miles down despite my poles. It ended up taking us longer to go down than to go up thanks to my reduced pace.

We started our Gaia app at the trailhead and our total distance ended up being 11.2 miles with 5,176 feet of gain. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I do look forward to doing this one again on a clear day where we can enjoy some views at the top!

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