Franklin Pierce Mailbox3.jpg

Trip Report    

Day Hike - Mailbox Peak

A Mountain Workshop hike with Franklin-Pierce High School Adventure Club.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Consistent snow starts roughly halfway up. Traction was helpful, though probably not absolutely mandatory. Snowshoes not needed. Trail well packed and easy to follow. The mailbox is accessible, not snow covered.

Feb 29 Saturday morning, I set off with 10 hardy members of the Franklin Pierce High School Adventure Club, their club advisor, and chaperones for a hike up the new trail up Mailbox Peak. The forecast called for rain, snow, and wind, so the students were ready for a grand adventure. 

Fortunately, the morning turned out to be fairly mild, with warmer than expected temps, no precip and little wind at the base of the hike. The students got equipped with hiking boots, microspikes, and hiking poles, (shoutout to The Mountaineers Gear Library!) and we were on our way.Franklin Pierce Mailbox4.jpg

The first two miles passed without incident, our students steadily making their way upward. We divided into a “fast” group, and “less fast” group, with the club advisor taking the lead and myself taking sweep. Snow appeared at about the halfway point, and the students were excited to finally make it to the snow line: the beginning of true adventure. After a short break and a package of double stuff oreos passed around, we were ready to continue on. About a quarter mile after reaching snow line, we decided it was time for microspikes. I would say that traction was not absolutely mandatory if you have good boots, but it was certainly helpful.

The Tacoma Mountaineers have been working with Franklin Pierce HS Adventure Club for a couple years now - introducing them to rock climbing, facilitating snowshoe outings, hikes, first aid training, and more. This school year they’ve crossed off Rampart Ridge, Snow Lake, and others. This trip up Mailbox was a big goal trip for the year - offered to dedicated members of the club who were ready for a big challenge. And it did not disappoint!

The trail of course is well-traveled and easy to follow, even in snow. My group began to show signs of slowing, and questions like “So...about how much further?” began to start, though I didn’t hear a complaint. It probably didn’t help that I wasn’t exactly sure how long the new trail is...WTA says 9.4 miles, and Mountaineers says 11.2 miles. After this trip I would tend to agree with The Mountaineers.

Franklin Pierce Mailbox2.jpgWe broke out of the trees into cold, blowing winds, snow, and fog. Almost there! Just past this boulder field...and then the next hill after that...and then the next hill...and then we’re there! I think they might have stopped believing me, but still they marched on. Before the final stretch, we crossed paths with the first group who was coming down. Too windy and cold to stay at the top! A kind trail runner coming down informed us that he had just left a package of Girl Scout cookies in the mailbox for us. It was just the motivation needed to make it up the last hundred feet.FranklinPierceMailbox5.jpg

Franklin Pierce Mailbox.jpgNo major stories to tell for the descent. Suffice to say that it was long, everyone’s feet hurt, and though the trail’s downhill grade seems almost imperceptible at times, at least we were able to bask in the accomplishment of making it to the summit. The students asked about other hikes in the area - were they as hard as this one? As tall? How hard is it to climb Mt. Rainier? The seed has been planted.

Special thanks to the No Child Left Inside Grant and the many Mountaineers donors that allow us to provide gear, transportation, and staff time to do this important and exciting work of connecting youth to the great outdoors!