Everyone has their own gameday traditions, and many times, when you think of gameday you picture tailgates, cookouts, parties with close family and friends. But that's not the case for David Kush.
Each week during the season Kush gets up early, rain, shine, or snow, and hikes to the top of Mailbox Peak. As many locals know, Mailbox Peak isn't exactly considered a leisurely hike. Kush said he chose this peak for a few reasons.
"The steeper the better for me," he said. "Mailbox Peak is a great trainer for people that are into staying in shape or training to go do something like (Mount) Rainier or (Mount) Baker because you gain about 4,000 feet in just a little over two miles. So it's a good, steep, quick and easy hike and it's close to town."
Kush said it's a tradition he's grown over the past four years.
"It was the 2012-2013 season when we were on course to go to the Super Bowl against the Broncos," Kush recalled. "What happened was I went out and bought a 12th Man flag at the Pro Shop in Seattle and I had planned initially just to hike up Mailbox Peak and hang the flag on a tree or something and take a picture."
But when Kush reached the top he realized there wasn't really anything for him to hang the flag on. He took it back down and started brainstorming a solution.
The next week, Kush brought the flag back up Mailbox Peak again with a portable flag pole to hang it on. When he reached the top the wind was blowing so hard the pole wouldn't have held the flag.
"I was kind of messing around with it and another hiker came up and offered just to snap a picture," he said. "I told him what I was trying to do, and he said 'well why don't you just hold the flag and take a picture?' … That's just kind of how it got started."
As Kush continued to go up to the peak each week he started inviting friends to go with him before the game. Originally the tradition consisted of about five people who participated, but during the 2013 season when the Seahawks headed to the Super Bowl more individuals started reaching out and asking to join. On Super Bowl Sunday that year there were approximately 25 people that took the hike to raise the 12 flag before the big game.
Since then, the tradition has grown and become popular enough that other hiking groups have found ways to support and contribute to the tradition and participate on other trails when they can't make it out to the North Bend area.
"We tried doing it at a closer one called Poo Poo Point in Issaquah and we did it twice," said Kush. "I think one time we had like 55-60 people show up. It was quite the crowd, it was kind of cool. Lots of fun pictures and videos, but it wasn't the same for me. For me it was always Mailbox Peak. Actually I think the one day we had this really huge group, close to 60 people, I think we ended up losing that game. I was like, 'see that's what you get, you don't go to Mailbox, you lose.'"
Kush has continued this tradition consistently throughout the past four years and it's something he plans to continue into the future.
"We try to do every single game," he said. "The only time we really miss a game, I mean some people individually can't make every single game, usually you just pass the torch because somebody from the group is going up almost every single game. Even if it's a 10 a.m. game, those are the tough ones because if it's a 10 a.m. game on a Sunday you have to be at the trailhead at like 4 a.m. But we do it. If it's windy, if it's stormy we've gone up. We have gone up rain or shine. We don't care about the weather. Our group attendance might go down but the diehards in the group are definitely still going. We've had 55-60 miles-per-hour winds up there and we've still made it. We're very dedicated."
So 12s, next time you feel like you need to get some exercise before the game, you know you can find some fellow 12s heading up the trail to Mailbox Peak.