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Trip Report    

Olympia Explorers Hike - Mailbox Peak

Our Olympia Explorers group successfully completed Mailbox - Up the Old Trail and Down the Old Trail

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Parking lot was icy.

    Started seeing snow around 2,500 feet.  Put on the microspikes before the intersection with the new trail.  Pretty icy above 3,500 feet.

Our Olympia Explorers broke into two groups for a winter hiking adventure.  Our experienced Explorers were made up of Misha (11), Caylie (10), and Leo (9).  They are on our "high adventure" group as this is Misha and Caylie's third year with the Explorers.  We thought that Mailbox would be a great way to do a harder hike and getting some experience with microspikes.  We are hoping to prepare for them for a possible summit of Mt. St. Helens or Mt. Adams next summer.

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We met at the upper parking lot at 8am and were soon on the way.  I had hoped for a 1,000 feet/hr pace and we remarkably kept 950 feet/hr pace the whole way including breaks.  We were very pleased with the pace.  We started seeing snow near the trail around 2,500 feet and soon there was half an inch of mixed snow and ice on the trail by the time we got to 3,500.  The trail was slippery at that point so we put on the microspikes.  Since there is not such a thing as kids' microspikes, we used adult microspikes but tightened them using a non-locking caribiner.  We continued ascending to the intersection with the new trail and eventually to the final rock section from 4,000 feet to the top.  The rocks in about an inch of snow, but there was plenty of traffic being such a clear December day, so the route was very easy to follow.  We reached the top around 12:20 with a really good time of 3 hours and 53 minutes.

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At the top, we ate lunch, took obligatory summit shots, and made hot chocolate with my Jetboil.  It was breezy at the summit and we getting cold, so we headed down the same way we came up.  It took us 2 hours 40 minutes coming down the old trail.  We were back at the cars at 3:30 -- plenty of time to spare before the gates lock at 4pm.

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