30 in 30: Climbing Mailbox Peak 30 Times in 30 Days

Mike "Mailbox Mike" Dubois climbed Mailbox Peak 30 times in 30 days to honor every addict's struggle to get clean. Read more about how he did it, and why.
Michael "Mailbox Mike" DuBois Michael "Mailbox Mike" DuBois
Mailbox Peak Enthusiast
May 16, 2022

Gaining 4,000 feet of vertical elevation in only 2.5 miles, Mailbox Peak definitely stands out among the more challenging hikes of the PNW. I am a regular in a crew of Mailbox enthusiasts who have visited the mountain hundreds of times over the past several years. In that time, I've witnessed droves of hikers suffer through great pains to reach the top. I've watched them rejoice as the summit first came into their view, and their eyes light up as they took their first picture next to the iconic mailbox. It has been an honor and a privilege to share in their experiences. For me, there would be no other mountain more fitting for my endeavor. 

When the idea first came to me, I thought, “this is nuts!” How was I ever going to summit Mailbox Peak, 30 times in 30 days? Well, I miscalculated and completed 31 in 30 days, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

How I did it

I knew I was going to have to climb before work, after work, and at some point, I was going to have to take days off, otherwise visiting the mailbox 30 times in 30 days was going to be impossible. I knew I wouldn’t be able to get to the trailhead every day, so I was prepared to do repeats. Throughout this challenge, I did several triples in a day and a handful of doubles. There was even a day where I spent 19 hours doing five Mailbox laps in a row. After that five-lap day, I came back to Mailbox the very next day for a single ascent, just to stay on schedule.

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On weekdays, I would be pretty much alone, but on weekends I had lots of company. I loved feeling the motivation I got from the crowds.

Staying up on my nutrition and hydration during this process proved to be important. Not just in my everyday life, but specifically at Mailbox Peak. I kept my car fully stocked with food, water, electrolytes, salt tabs, bananas, etc. I made sure that on every lap, I carried sufficient fuel and water - I was not going to let anything make this process more difficult than it needed to be. This took a certain degree of discipline.

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I also made sure I had extra clothing to change into. Weather conditions during this month (March-April 2022) were all over the map. On any given day, I would experience every single season... sometimes in a four-hour period! I needed to make sure to have clothing sufficient for all situations, and anyone who has seen me at the Mailbox trailhead knows that it looks like I live there (or at least ready to stay for a very long time) when I open my trunk. That’s how I earned the nickname Mailbox Mike.

Why 30 in 30

During the challenge, on occasion someone would ask, “Why are you doing 30 in 30?” I have a loved one who is suffering from drug addiction and living on the streets. Over the last year, I’ve watched their physical and mental state deteriorate rapidly. They sleep in a bush and their every waking moment is in pursuit of their next fix. Prior to their addiction taking over, they had a family, a job, and were pursuing further education. Now their only possession is a 10-speed bicycle and the clothes on their back. Their family has no contact with them. I know firsthand how incomprehensibly demoralizing throwing away your life to addiction can be.

I myself am a recovering alcoholic and addict. I ran my life into the ground chasing my addiction. I ruined relationships with family and friends, lost opportunities, and wasted many years of my life to drugs and alcohol. When I reached my lowest point and could no longer go on living that way, someone helped guide me into a new way of life. I am now clean and sober for nearly 10 years and I’m grateful for the people who were there for me in my darkest hour.

When my loved one started living on the streets, I maintained contact via cell phone. I was able to ask if they were warm and had enough to eat. The reply was always the same: I am fine; thanks for calling; and thanks for checking on me. I got a sense of comfort from the sound of their voice, even when I did not entirely believe what they were telling me. But then my phone calls weren’t answered anymore, then their phone was no longer in service. Normally they would try to call me from other phones, but several months passed and I didn’t hear anything.

I started to get phone calls from friends and family saying they either saw my loved one or had talked to them and that things were not good. I heard that they looked horrible, had dropped tons of weight, and sounded insane. I immediately started looking for them. I had a general idea where they were squatting, so I made it a regular routine to spend part of my day searching for them.

I did this repeatedly for months, with no results, and I felt utterly powerless and hopeless. I didn’t know how to find them and I was starting to panic; I didn’t know what they were doing or what was being done to them, or if they were even alive. I felt like I was having a nervous breakdown.

I began to use Mailbox Peak as an outlet for my anxiety. It’s always been a place where I can put my head down and march forward. However, while I was there, I began wondering if I would ever find my loved one again. I wondered if they would ever get clean? Would they go to treatment like I did and attend 12 step meetings? Or would they find a different remedy that worked for them? Whichever direction they decided to go, I wanted to be there for them just as someone was there for me.

During this thought process, I started to think of my own first 30 days of recovery. Many recovered addicts know these days to be the most difficult, and yet the most crucial. I thought about the treatment center that I went to and the men who walked with me through that process. Then a thought came over me. What if I did Mailbox Peak 30 times in 30 days to honor every addict’s struggle to get clean?

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Hiking & Recovery

There are some distinct parallels between the first 30 days of recovery and my 30 climbs up Mailbox Peak.

First you have the pain. The pain of withdrawal from alcohol and drugs was excruciating, and although different, I felt similar pain while doing this challenge.

There were moments of frustration in both scenarios. At some points I wanted to quit the challenge altogether, just like in my first 30 days of recovery when I thought of quitting and giving in to the desire to use.  Both were uphill battles I’m glad I pressed through.

There were also moments of doubt. At times I felt ridiculous trying to get clean, and I had similar feelings during this challenge, but I knew there was something greater going on in both situations – getting clean AND completing these climbs!

 At one point I was driven towards drug and alcohol treatment to save my own life, and now I was driven to complete these 30 Mailboxes in hopes that I can help save someone else’s! MY loved one, and YOUR loved one. I kept pushing up Mailbox for them, in hopes that they would surrender to the pain that they were inflicting upon themselves and others.

From March 21-April 19, I clocked 185.66 miles and 130,460 feet of elevation gain. These numbers also reflect a mailbox/Teneriffe/Si trifecta that happened somewhere in the middle. At one point, I spent 11 consecutive days at Mailbox peak, during which time I did one of the double ascents AND one of the triples. I didn't do them in a row. I had to do repeats to make up for days I couldn't make it to the trail. It was hard, but I continued on until I completed what I set out to do, holding on to the hope that if I could get clean, so could they. This hope kept me going, along with the encouragement that I received from friends and fellow hikers.

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I’m grateful to the people that I know from Mailbox Peak who I’ve shared the story of my loved one with over the last year. It’s been a heavy load to carry to the box – thank you from the bottom of my heart. To the people who are dealing with similar situations and to those who have lost loved ones to addiction, my heart is with you. These climbs are dedicated to all of you.

For more inspiration, check out Michael DuBois on Strava.

All photos courtesy of Michael DuBois.


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Anita Wilkins
Anita Wilkins says:
May 17, 2022 11:52 AM

Wow, Michael! Thank you for sharing such a personal story. Kudos on a decade sober, some serious athleticism, and so much compassion. May the mountains always lift and comfort you.

Michael "Mailbox Mike" DuBois
Michael "Mailbox Mike" DuBois says:
May 19, 2022 10:49 PM

Thank you, Anita!

Jessica Winter-Stoltzman
Jessica Winter-Stoltzman says:
Jun 01, 2022 03:39 PM

thank you for sharing this heartfelt story!

Samantha Sanders
Samantha Sanders says:
Jun 03, 2022 11:44 PM

This is beautiful Michael - thank you for providing a window into this and guiding me to further empathy. All the best to you and your loved one!