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Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mt. Hale (#18), November 9, 2008

Hale Brook Trail, 4.4 miles roundtrip.

The past few weeks have been very difficult. There's been a lot of illness in our family, and we've had to stay indoors day after day after day after day.

Thankfully, Alex and I were recently declared well and fit for hiking, so today we were extremely happy to get back on the trails.

I chose Mt. Hale for our trek, since it's one of the "easier" 4Ks and I thought it would be a nice, slow return to 4K hiking. The forecast called for dropping temps throughout the day, so we packed appropriate clothing and emergency gear (we now have a nice, new negative-45-degree sleeping bag and bivy that will hold both Alex and myself...good to have just in case).

We arrived at the trailhead and were on the path nice and early, as usual.

The trail has easy to moderate grades most of the way to the first river crossing.

We got to the first crossing with little fanfare. It was an easy rock-hop. Here's a picture, looking back at it after we crossed.

We took a bit of a break here to shed a layer. The drizzle became rain while we sat, so we replaced our fleece with waterproof shells.

We continued along our way toward the second water crossing. The second crossing was even easier than the first -- here's a picture, looking back as we're hiking away from it.

Those white streaks in the above picture are very thick, wet, heavy snowdrops. It was coming down like you want it to on Christmas Day. It was beautiful. The two of us quickly discovered that we enjoy hiking in the snow. The snowdrops covered the trail quickly, but it wasn't cold enough for any ice to form.

We continued onward and upward on the final 0.9 mile push toward the summit.

Perhaps 0.1 miles from the peak, Alex noticed this heart-shaped rock.

Then -- we were there!

When Hale freezes over...

Alex immediately dropped her poles and started making snowballs.

I had to remind her to go visit the actual summit cairn. She climbed it, and I snapped the summit photo.

She then started writing "Alex and Mama climbed this mountain" in the snow. Methinks the kid likes the cold stuff.

After a while, we headed back down the trail. It wasn't long before Alex began to complain that her hands hurt -- I switched her out of her snowgloves and into a better, more insulated pair. She then felt much better and we continued on our way.

The return trip was routine. We took a long break after the water crossings, about 0.7 miles from the car. We both felt happy and relaxed. I took some pictures while we ate and drank.

After we rested a while, we hiked the remaining easy bit of trail back to the trailhead.

This was a great day. We were thrilled to be back out there again.

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