Goat Mountain and Mt. St. Helens … kinda

Although I’d really been looking forward to climbing Mt. St. Helens, with the renovation at my mom’s house ever growing in scope, I didn’t prepare for this trip anywhere near as well as I should have. I ended up working with the plumbers the day that I’d planned to leave and things just got a little nuts. About the time I reached Centralia, I realized that I’d left my ice axe and crampons in Tacoma. Washington got a lot more snow than Colorado and my heart sank because that had basically already sealed not getting to the highest point of the ridge.

Traffic south of Tacoma sucks and I was slightly ahead of it so I definitely didn’t want to backtrack and sit in it so I decided to continue and take my chances. Besides, I had kind of a bee in my bonnet about using the evening to climb Cowlitz County’s highpoint: Goat Mountain.

Forest Service Road 470 was pretty washed out (there were ruts that were almost a foot deep) so I just parked at the junction with FS 8117 and walked up to the start of the southwest ridge. The trail was occasionally indistinct but overall, it was pretty easy to follow. Just below the summit I started to run into patches of snow and I had to brush away some sads about knowing I was going to see a St. Helens covered with too much snow for me to summit. The view though didn’t make me sad: it was totally gorgeous.

Rainer peaked out to the north, Adams was visible from the ridge and St. Helens was right there. I took some photos and then hustled down the trail to make it back to Ruth before it got dark.

My non-preparation continued when I got to the road to Climbers Bivouac. The road was closed because it was still covered with snow and I was directed to Worm Flows. I scrambed a bit because I hadn’t bothered to read up on on Worm Flows (or really any route, to be honest). I was just feeling a little beat up by this hike and I hadn’t even started hiking yet.

In the morning, still feeling demoralized, I decided to sleep in a bit since I wasn’t going to summit anyway. I made really good time to the junction with the standard climbing route…that was covered in snow. I decided to climb up a ridge to the east of the standard route because I was going to be much more successful climbing the ash and scree covered route than the steep snow with my (unprepared) light and fast gear situation. I knew my only summit hope was being able to maybe traverse along the rim versus going straight up snow.

Oh, my god it was steep. It was fun? But also, it was one of those things were as I expended energy, I could see the rim better and better and was realizing that I wasn’t going to be able to safely make the traverse. With 1500′ to go to the rim, I almost quit.

In the end, I’m glad I didn’t. The view into the crater was really impressive. I just desperately wished that I could make my way west but it wasn’t the right choice. Instead, I turned around and took my tired butt down the mountain.

Back in Tacoma (after getting first dinner at Burgerville with a BIG fresh strawberry shake) I met my mom (and my Sprockey!) at my grandma’s for dinner. I was exhausted—it’s been a long time since I’ve done 5000’+ gain in a day and I was ready for bed. I have unfinished goals down there though, guess I’m going to have to scope another permit for this mountain!

Olallie Butte

A few weeks ago, Sprocket and I headed east into the Cascades to hike Olallie Butte. It’s a nice mostly treed hike before scrambling up the last bits of scree to the summit. Olallie is one of Oregon’s 2,000′ prominence peaks and the high point of Wasco county is just off its northeastern flank.

Mt. Jefferson dominates the southern view, actually obscuring Three Finger Jack, Mt. Washington and South Sister, with Middle and North Sisters peaking over her eastern shoulder.

Santiam Pass OHV Area

When I met F almost six years ago, he didn’t own a car and instead did his traveling in a U-Haul that housed not one but rather three motorcycles in the back. As early as our second date he tried to teach me to ride—I would like to tell you all that I tried hard but really I just wanted to ride a circle to prove I could before I crashed and embarrassed myself. Over the years, I’ve putted around in a circle a couple of times but I really failed at actually trying.

Once we learned about the riding area at Santiam Pass and how it has a lot of easy trails, we planned a camping and riding adventure with friends. We borrowed a bike from a friend and I finally committed to giving riding a try. F and I headed up Friday after work and spent the evening hiding from the awful mosquitoes but were able to find a campsite right on an easy trail with an amazing view of Mt. Washington that we climbed back in 2009. I spent Saturday morning riding around in circles getting more proficient at using the clutch and turning around the islands in the camping area. Actually, the best thing that happened to me was crashing in the sand—I’d always secretly harbored the idea that if I crashed I would, with absolute certainty, break my leg.

The rest of Saturday and Sunday were spent alternately riding and relaxing in camp. I steadily improved and I was meeting the “crash at least once an hour or you’re not improving quota.”

The rest of the photos are courtesy F and the GoPro:

Thanksgiving Snow

After a few days of food and family over the Thanksgiving weekend Forrest and I headed for the mountains. We headed out for the southern Washington Cascades. Our plan was to head south along the western side of Mt. Adams, perhaps exploring the northeastern side of the mountains if conditions allowed, then returning to the west side and popping out in Trout Lake.

After filling up in Packwood (by the way, I don’t recommend the rest stop just south of town on Highway 12…very very cold stainless steel toilet seats), we headed up towards Wallupt Lake (Johnson Creek Rd aka Rd 21). I was pretty aware this was an ambitious plan but I knew Dad had hunted up in that area in mid-November. Unfortunately, it had rained the day before and the snow was a slushy, slushy mess. We made it to about 3,200 feet before we manged to get stuck in about eight inches of snow. After digging out it was apparent that continuing up that road wasn’t going to be possible. We headed back down towards Randle and tried to go over Road 25…which just happened to be closed. We jumped over to Rd 23 and I wasn’t feeling particularly optimistic about our chances of making it up and over to the other side but making something of what had been a pretty dismal weekend was at the top of my priority list.

We manged to keep chugging up the hill, winching ourselves out once, and eventually we made it to the junction with the road to Takhlakh Lake. There were tracks leading up the road so we figured we could probably make it up to check it out. Once up at the lake, we met up with a group of friends who’d been camping at Takhlakh every Thanksgiving weekend for about ten years. They were very welcoming and we sat around the campfire drinking beer with them before crawling into the Jeep for a good night’s sleep.

The next morning we woke up and Mt. Adams made a lovely appearance over the lake. After some breakfast, we headed out and hoped to continue over the road to Trout Lake. We made it over Babyshoe Pass thanks to the trail broken by our new friends but once we got beyond their help the going was slow. It wasn’t long before we realized that making it over the next pass was not really a possibility so we turned around and headed for Cougar.

Our trip hadn’t turned out quite as well as we liked so we settled for some pretty darn good Chinese food in Camas with Forrest’s mom and headed home.

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.

Mt. Theilsen & Crater Lake

We finally found a date to head south and climb Mt. Thielsen! This time we were joined not only by Ezra but by Dan, a friend Forrest made when he worked the HP auction, who was back for another go-round in Oregon.

We had an absolutely beautiful day for a climb. The trail was really well constructed and the hike up the the PCT junction seemed like a breeze! (Dan for one might argue with me a bit on this.) When I got my first good view of the mountain I couldn’t help but notice its similarities to Mt. Crumpet (of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas fame). The scramble up the summit block was so much fun! Forrest scared himself a little bit when he decided to take an alternate (read: poor choice) route up but eventually we all found ourselves standing at 9,182 ft! (9.8 miles round trip, 3782 feet elevation gain)

The view was beautiful. We could see Bachelor, South Sister, Diamond Peak, and Mt. McLaughlin, not to mention Diamond Lake and Mt. Bailey. We headed down the mountain ready to go find a place to camp and grab some dinner.

Finding a place to camp turned out to be a little harder than we’d expected as all the campgrounds on Diamond Lake were closed for the season. We wound up camping on a Forest Service Road that took off for lakes to the north…we were near the much less scenic dumping grounds for Diamond Lake Resort. We found some wood for a fire, cooked dinner, drank a couple of beers and all promptly passed out. I spent most of the night shivering in my pathetic excuse for a sleeping bag (fabulous for light summer hiking and 40 degree nights…not so great for the fall 25 degree ones) but eventually Forrest took pity on me and shared a bit of his amazing old Coleman bag.

The next morning we headed to the Diamond Lake lodge for some coffee. It was fun to sit by the huge old (1920s?) fireplace and talk to the resort workers about the resort and the area but it was soon time to head south to Crater Lake.

I’d never seen the lake and it was pretty amazing. I do have to admit that I was more enamored with the view of the super fun mountain I’d climbed the day before across the lake. We hung out in the lobby of Crater Lake lodge while eating our breakfast of bagels and checked out the display of the lodge’s history. It was a little sad to see how much it would cost to stay and eat at that beautiful place…out of this world expensive! We checked out the small visitors center, took some pictures, and decided against doing the whole rim drive to head out along the Rouge River instead.

This ended up being a fabulous idea! We got to see the pretty falls near the headwaters as well as the place where the river actually runs underground through some lava tubes (Forrest and I stood on top of it!). Just on a whim we stopped to see Mill Creek Falls and instead found ourselves at the Avenue of the Boulders. We all had a blast scrambling around the big rocks to see where we could get ourselves. Eventually we found the falls but they weren’t near as exciting as the boulders had been.

After that we headed back to Corvallis–but what an awesome October weekend!

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.

Mt. Washington

Sunday, Forrest, Ezra, Thomas, and I headed up the slopes of Mt. Washington (7,794 ft). We left Philomath about 6:30 in the morning and even I chowed down on a Egg McMuffin as we headed east. We arrived at the trail head about 8:30 and were immediately swarmed by mosquitoes.

We followed the Pacific Crest Trail south for about three miles to get to the climber’s trail–Forrest and I hiked this in a speedy 40 minutes! After that the going got slower for me as my cruise focus has dampened my exercise drive recently. Still, all things considered we made decent time to the summit block. From the base of the block to the summit was so much fun! There wasn’t anything overly technical but there was a lot of climbing and scrambling to be had.

We ate lunch at the top swarmed by flies instead of mosquitoes but the view certainly was something. To the north we could see Three Fingered Jack and Mt. Jefferson, to the south/south-east there’s the Three Sisters, and several others (I need to go over my Oregon peak picking some more with Forrest…).

The climb down was something as well. Fortunately we’d brought rope because we’d read about a sketchy area for down-climbing. Sketchy was right! We all basically lowered ourselves down the rope hand over hand while walking our feet along the nearly sheer crack we’d climbed up earlier–it was exhilarating to say the least!

From there Forrest and Thomas took off down the scree slope while Ezra and I chose the trail. We chose wrong. It was long and hot heading down across the ridge and things didn’t get much better once we reached the trees. Forrest and Thomas beat us by a good forty minutes and went swimming in Big Lake while we were still slogging down the PCT being eaten the whole way.

All in all, it was a good climb and gave me inspiration to start running again (and not only running, but running hills and running then repeatedly). Too bad it’ll all come to a halt when I get on a boat in six days…

Originally posted on the blog: Evergreen Rambles.