South Spur, snow, ~12 miles, ~7000 feet, With Tim Hallinan
More Multnomah Falls
Our Route On Mt. Adams (not our tent)
Little Horses 2
Kite Surfers On The columbia River
The Space Needle
Tim and I had originally made plans to try to fast pack Mt. Olympus from the 19th to the 21st of June, 2009. Unfortunately neither of us had bothered to check how far the trail head was from the Seattle airport (5 hours) and it turned out that we probably wouldn't have the time to get to the trail head, hike in and out 45 miles, and get back to the plane on time to leave. To be honest we could have fit the trip in but it would have been rushed and probably not as much fun as it should be so we decided to aim for Liberty Ridge on Rainier instead. Trips like this one depend too heavily on weather to be reliable and it looked like the forecast for Rainier was poor enough that a Liberty Ridge trip was very iffy so we once again changed our plans and decided to climb Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. We headed out to the Denver airport Thursday afternoon on the 18th.
Our flight from Denver was delayed by a couple hours and the late arrival coupled with our sleepiness and a huge dose of rain (the guy who took us to pick up our rental car said it was the first rain in 29 days) knocked any climbing out for Friday the 19th. We slept in the car in some dirt parking lot halfway between Seattle and Portland, woke up, then headed to Portland where we had a bit of breakfast and wandered around some. I tend to like Portland a good bit, it is a quiet, friendly, healthy, and safe city. We swung by Powell's bookstore where I picked up a copy of the "Complete Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy" for Tim as he had never read it. After the breakfast and the bookstore we headed out to the Mt. Adams trail head.
I had called the ranger station ahead of time to ask how to deal with permits and such and they had told me everything could be taken care of at the trail head. When we arrived we found out this was not at all true and we would need to drive back down 20 or so miles of dirt road to the station to get the proper permits. Neither of us felt like doing this so we figured we'd stop by the next day if we received a ticket during our hike of Adams. Tim set up his tent and I set up a sleeping space in our rental car and we relaxed for awhile. After an hour or so of hanging out (the plan was to get to sleep early and get moving early) it started raining again. It rained steadily from four in the afternoon until midnight and I watched as hoardes of people came back to their cars and went home having decided that heading up Adams in the rain was not worth it. To be honest this confused the heck out of me. For some reason people seem to like to carry a ton of camping gear a couple thousand vertical feet up this side of Adams, camp, then summit from their camp. Taking out the fact that the side we were on was only 6700 feet and 12 miles round trip out of the equation and that camping seems kind of pointless (carrying tents, stoves, bags, etc stinks) it made little sense to me why someone with camping gear wouldn't just set up their tents and wait out the storm. My take on it aside apparently at least a dozen people decided to take their tents for a five mile walk and then go home.
Tim and I figured we'd skip the hike if it was going to be in freezing rain but fortunately it stopped raining by the time we woke up. We woke around 3 AM, had breakfast, then headed out. The hike itself was pretty straightforward and we summited in a little over four hours. The terrain never got much worse than 30 degrees but it was a bit icy in areas due to the recent rain. The scenery from the peak was beautifukl and we had good views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Hood. As easy as the hike itself was it was a beautiful peak and the volcanoes out in Washington really feel like mountains whereas so much of the stuff in Colorado feels likes humps on ridges. I'm glad we managed to get up Mt. Adams because the trip would have been a bust otherwise. On the way down I gave a container of home made GU to a couple guys who looked dazed, tired, and had started hiking towards the summit 10 hours earlier.
We headed back down without incident (other than being confused by having a woman call a temporary snowfield we descended a glacier), packed, and headed out. We made it back to the car in slightly over 7 hours from leaving it. I must say that I'm surprised by the level of stupid in the cascades. I know I was very green when I started but the sheer numbers of people who can't distinguish a snowfield from a glacier, rope on easy snow without protecting it, leave their water at the base of climbs, not know how to use ice axes, take 20 hours to do a route I could barrel roll up in 8, not bring food, etc. amazes me. I am astonished more people don't die in the Pacific Northwest. I've got to give it to the people in Colorado (coparitively) they seem to have a lot more common sense or there are at least a lot less people having so little of it.
The weather for Hood had deteriorated and it was going to be a lot colder than we had packed for (teens versus thirties) so we decided against trying for Hood. One big rule I follow is not to head up anything cold without spare clothing and neither of us had it. We decided to head back to Seattle that night. After an abortive attempt of trying to sleep in the car (a non-stop barking dog at midnight made it impossible) we decided to find a hotel room and crash for the night. In the morning we woke, packed up, and headed out.
Adams was fun but easy and not worth the money it cost. I think I'll just watch the weather and plan these as very spur of the moment trips from now on so the weather doesn't have quite as big a say as it has for this trip and my prior one to the pacific northwest. On the plus side we stopped at Multnomah Falls and hiked to the top, watched kite surfers on the Columbia, and saw a coupel little miniature horses.
As I write this I have a phone interview with ITT this afternoon and am flying out to Virginia for an Interview with Lockheed Martin tomorrow (June 23rd-25th, 2009). I'm hopeful about my career prospects but wished this trip had been a bit more of an adventure since it is one of my last spur of the moment trips before my life goes from graduate student to full time work.
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