Mailbox Peak Review Hiked October 5, 2006
Alan Singer and I hiked Mailbox on a gorgeous, sunny Thursday October 5, 2006. We set out from the trailhead at 11:15AM. The way up proved to be an upper body workout as well as a quads/buns work-out. It was so steep I found myself grabbing slender saplings along the way, and literally hauling myself up the trail with my arms.
We tackled the rock pile believing that the mailboxes would be found at the top, but when we had summited the rock pile, there were absolutely no mailboxes. By now it was 2:38PM, so our hiking time up was 3 hours and 23 minutes. In the distance was a ridge with a smaller rock pile on its flanks--presumably that was the location of the mailboxes-- but we were beat, and wanted to eat our lunch. We set out for our descent at 3PM in order not to be hiking this very steep trail--filled with tree roots--in the twilight. Glancing down the rock pile, we saw air in all directions. It was clear it had been easier (although not particularly easy) to climb up this scree than to descend back down it. So we located the rough path north of the rock pile and began our descent.
I disagree with other reviewers of this hike, most especially, “Tallteleboarder,” who wrote in his October 1, 2006 review, “I think it would be hard to hike and not summit in less than 2 hours and 30 minutes.” We were close to one hour more than that. Tallteleboarder also reported he and his wife took 2 hours and 10 minutes to descend. Our return took us just under 3 hours … we arrived at our vehicle about 5:55PM.
Karen Sykes in an old November 27, 1997 “Hike of the Week” in the Seattle PI wrote, “If you don’t like the rock slide, you can bypass it on the left … but personally I prefer playing on the rocks.” In retrospect, “playing on the rocks” cost us quite a bit of time and was possibly dangerous for somewhat hikers without great balance and sure-footedness.
We are in our mid-sixties and have good stamina. We have done Mount Si and other hikes over 3000 feet. However to climb almost 4000 feet in 3 miles was hard, and the descent was murderously steep. We were lurching from tree to tree to arrest our pace. By the time I was two-thirds of the way down I had “sewing machine legs” (they were trembling rapidly up and down) and only a stop to gather four white chanterelles provided any relief.
I would warn hikers thinking of doing this hike to be sure to have climbed Mount Si recently (as a test of your fitness), to get an early start, and to avoid “playing on the rocks” unless you have as much experience and confidence as Karen Sykes. I have since read several more reviews of Mailbox and the general consensus is to allow over three hours for the ascent and an equal time for the descent, because of its insanely steep slope.
Them’s my thoughts.