Friday, August 28, 2009

School and Flu Season Starts Early

I fully expected to get sick next week. I am generally ill with colds, sinus infections and the flu from September to April of every year. When the kids go back to school they bring home germs. They go back on Tuesday so I expected to get sick next week. Surprise! I got sick today. Symptoms are a sudden fever, a headache, and a runny nose. Summer is now over.

My 5 year old gets to start Kindergarten with a fever. But at least, unlike me, she won't get the measles and chicken pox in Kindergarten.

I won't be hiking this weekend. I've reached the pinnacle (Mount Adams) of the hiking season, now all that is left is to lose my muscle tone and gain weight. In the Fall I always tell myself that I am going to stay in good shape over the winter, by hiking and snowshoeing but not this fall. I know it is not possible with the colds and the flu and the sinus infections that are awaiting me. Time to start saving up for my annual courses of Augmention.

Hiker slowly starves as he treks Colorado's backcountry

One good thing about having a fever it that it limits my ability to engage in pleasurable and/or high-risk activities that may result in painful consequences.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Col or Colonel Bob via Petes Creek

Colonel Bob

I’m not in the mood to write a coherent trip report so here comes the first draft. Maybe I will fix this up later.

I decided to camp at Campbell Tree Grove and then hike up Pete’s Creek Trail to the top of Col. Bob the next day. I drove straight to Quinault from Olympia. Just before I entered Aberhoquiam I got pulled over by the Washington State Patrol. My tabs had expired without me knowing it. I got off with a warning because the trooper was in a hurry to go to another call. I never get off with just a warning! The trooper did not ask to see my insurance information and I’m pretty sure I don’t have the current information in my car. I was very lucky to get off without getting a big fine.

There was a lot of construction on highway 101 outside of Aberhouquiam. The construction delayed my arrival at the Campbell Tree Grove Campground by at least ½ and hour. I turned off of highway 101 on donkey creek road and the presence of a huge cedar stump marked the start of the national forest. The national forest is owned by us but managed by the USDA.

Campbell Tree Grove was gorgeous, but the pump handle was missing so there was no
"potable water". I cooked dinner and went to bed early. Right after darkness fell I got spooked. I was the only one camping and in the early evening and in the dark of the night elk were bugling about 200 feet behind my tent. Bull elk can be very unpredictable during the rut so I was nervous. I got up out of my tent and started making noises to scare them off. I slammed my car door a few times and I banged on a pot and I did some yelling. No matter what noise I made the two elk bugled back at me. It was hard to tell in the dark, but it also sounded like every noise I made caused the elk to walk towards my campsite! (did I mention that my headlamp battery was almost dead and I could not see anything?) I chickened out and spent the night in my station wagon.

Study: 74% of Children Tenting Out In Yard Don't Make It through the Night

Maybe it was silly of me to hide in my car but I have been chased by a bull elk before. I was at the Hoh river campground and I was pushing my baby in her stroller. The bull elk was a big too curious about my stroller. As I passed the elk I picked up my speed a bit to try to get away from it but the elk picked up its speed too. The elk began to trot towards me and my baby, chasing us from behind. To protect myself and my baby I turned the stroller around and hid behind an old growth stump that was next to the road. Because I had to turn around and run toward the elk to get to the stump and because I let out one hell of a scream, the elk backed away.

Elk Attack

It rained in the night and I was not terribly comfortable in my car so I woke up tired. When I woke up at 8:30 am it was light outside and the elk were gone but it was cloudy and I was too tired to go hiking right away so I got out of my car and crawled into my tent and went back to sleep until about 10am. By 10am the sun had come out and I was feeling a bit more rested so I drove my car the three miles to the trail head and I started my hike around 11am.

There was a trail crew working on the trail and every time I passed one of them they asked me if I had seen the others in their group. It was kind of funny. After I passed all the of the trail crew I spotted the largest patch of chicken of the woods that I have everseen. I also spotted the largest vanish conks that I have ever seen. Quinault is the place to find monster sized mushrooms.




There are some pretty tarns about 600 feet below the summit but I was shocked to see one of them had been used as a group toilet. YUCK ! In the same area below the summit I found a pile of trash that had been erected to memorialize a loved one. Why must people put up crosses and erect piles of trash in the wilderness? When I am hiking I don’t want to be reminded of death and I don’t want to see piles of trash; want to enjoy the forest and get away from it all!

What if everyone erected one of these for every dead friend and relative they had?

The last mile to the summit is steep and the going was slow for that part. In that last mile I passed two nice hikers who were coming down. I could hear them blabbing loudly for at least ten minutes before I saw them. I was tempted to hide in the woods until they passed by but there were no good woods to hide in. One them had a large rifle and after I passed him he said to his buddy that hiking alone was not safe. What if you fall of a cliff he said. Well I make it a point to try not to fall off cliffs when I hike. :)

It took me 4 hours to reach the top. Col. Bob is one of those funny view points that kind of sneaks up on you. One minute you are in the forest and the next thing you know you are standing on top of the world with an unobstructed 360 degree view.

My camera was having problems again and think I had it on the wrong setting so I don’t have very many good pictures.

There were a bunch of filthy cigarette butts on the summit but I flicked them all out of side down the side of the mountain so as to accelerate their trip down the Quinault to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The hike down took me 3 hours. I was too anxious during the entire hike and I did not enjoy myself as much as I usually do. It might be nice to do this hike again when I am feeling better.

I spent the night after the hike in the same campground but the elk were gone so I slept comfortably in my tent. The next morning I woke up at about 8am and then I spent the better part of the day hugging trees, playing with my shadow, drawing pictures and reading a subversive novel.

At about 2pm I started my drive home. I was very tempted to drive on the 22 road all the way out to the 23 road and into the Skokomish Valley. Thus I would have avoided all of highway 101 and Aberdeen. If I had been in my Jeep I would have done it, but if I had been in my Jeep I would have had current tabs and would not have needed to do it.

I did not want to subject my poor little car to the bumps on the last mile of the 23 road before it comes out onto the Skokomish Valley road so I drove on the highway instead. One the way home I did not stop once and I managed to avoid being spotted with my expired tabs. Tomorrow morning I will ride my bicycle to the licensing office and I will pay the regressive tax and I will renew my tabs.

When I got to my home (owned by the USDA but managed by me) my family was gone but the house was a mess. There was no evidence that any housework had been done while I was gone.

3,400 feet elevation gain
8 miles RT
170 miles on my shoes and they are no longer waterproof
180,000 miles on my car

Strangly pale Banana slugs inhabit this area

Red Elder Berries


A water pump without a handle is worthless

A Crane fly visited my tent in the night

I saw the trail crew working on this log, they had it cleared by the time I hiked back down.

Biggest Red Huckleberries ever

What kind of bush is this?
(hint it is two different bushes)

Fall colors on the summit

Final push to the summit

interesting 3 peaked mountain

A lot of ridges

HUGE reshi conks. I did not know that reshi got this big.

Playing with my Shadow in the campground

This is how my campsite looked after I packed up and was ready to go

My campsite and sketch

Playing with fire

Huge Hemlock that someone hacked hand holds into. Out of respect, I did not try to climb it. When I first saw this tree I knew I had to stay in this campsite. conks are growing out of the hand holds.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mount Adams

Snow and clouds at the summit

Mount Adams

Finally everything fell into place and I was able to climb Mount Adams. I had been training for this hike all summer. Multiple potential trip partners backed out, I did not know if I could get a babysitter and then when everything seemed to be pulling together I went into a manic episode. I was barely able to drive; it was probably foolish of me to set out on such an expedition in the state of mind I was in. My husband prodded me to do it anyway, he said that doing it might clear my head and he was right. My head was relatively clear during the entire hike.

I drove to Mount Adams via Portland and then across a toll bridge. That was an insane route but I was too manic to read a map or think straight so I just did what my GPS told me to do. Somehow I managed to drive to the trailhead, get a climbing permit and meet up with Joe and Ryan. Our fourth partner (Ryan’s cousin) arrived in the night while we were sleeping and he slept in his car. He brought crampons and ice axes for himself and Ryan.

After some discussion we decided to do Adams as a day hike. Two of the group members were not outfitted for backpacking. Ryan only owned cotton clothing and he did not have sunglasses. When I learned how unprepared Ryan was I began to worry. I was afraid he would get too cold hiking in blue jeans, dress shoes with no tread and a cotton shirt and cotton socks. He was dressed in cotton from head to toe! I worried that we would have to turn back due to him being unprepared. I lent him a pair of wool socks to wear on his hands but I think he wore them on his feet instead and he wore his own cotton socks on his hands. Dan lent him a hoody.

We pitched our tents and went to bed early. We got up at 2:30 am and started our hike in the dark at 3:15 am. The guy who was so poorly prepared led the way and he hiked fast. He hiked too fast for me and I was having trouble keeping up. Again I began to worry; I knew I could not keep up that pace for 6.5 miles and some 7,000 feet up. I did not know it at the time, but Joe was unhappy with the fast pace too. He kept stopping and suggesting that we look at the stars. I thought he was doing this just for me, because I lagging behind. Later I learned that he was having trouble with the pace as well.

A mile or so into the hike we lost sight of Ryan and his cousin. Joe and I lost the trail at about the same time that they went out of sight. We got far enough off trail that we had to do a tiny bit of rock scrambling. I was terrified when I saw the rock that Joe wanted me to climb up. I could not see the foot holds; all I could see was loose rock. I imagined myself falling backwards and getting hurt too badly to finish the climb. Joe saw that I was panicked and he helped me up.

Once we got over the rocks our pace slowed down to a more comfortable level. Then it was just a steady slog up the rocky trail in the dark with Perseids meteors and the crescent moon showering down on us.

Joe and I caught up to Ryan and his cousin at the Crescent Glacier. By then it was full daylight and the group stopped to put on crampons. I had opted to leave my crampons at home. When I looked around I saw that everyone one else on the mountain had crampons and I began to feel like I was out of my element. In spite of my misgivings I was able to walk up the first snow field. The traction was good and crampons were not needed. When we got to the steeper snow fields above lunch counter (9,000 feet) I got off the ice and walked up on the rocks. Walking up on the rocks was hard going and I wished that I had brought my crampons. I left my crampons at base camp because I did not want to have wear heavy hiking boots. I knew my boots would slow me down and give me blisters. It is a shame that my crampons will not stay on my trail runners. They were made for trail running shoes and they used to stay on my shoes when I first got them.

When we got to the top of the false summit (Pikers Peak 11,598 feet) I started to get an altitude headache and I got my first view of the true summit. I was very tired by that time and the summit looked like an insurmountable obstacle. I was very tempted to quit because I felt like I was holding up my group and I did not think I could do it. But I was wrong. I was not holding up my group. They were suffering just as much as I was!

The true looks brown while the false summit is black. The summit shack is visible in this picture.

My group went ahead a bit while I paused on Pikers peak to take pictures. I was the only one who had a good working camera. Joe’s camera battery was going dead and Dan only had cell phone camera. While I was taking pictures I asked some other climbers how much higher the summit was and they told me it was only 600 feet above us. I must have really been tired from the climb and the elevation, because when I looked at the summit I really thought it was 3,000 feet up. When I learned that it was only 600 feet above me I relaxed and I knew I was going to make it. But still, I was a bit worried about the looks of the trail on the ridge, just below the summit shack. I was afraid it might be too icy to walk with my running shoes.

The trail was not icy and I made it up to the true summit with no troubles. I had to take 5 steps, rest, take another five steps just like going to Camp Muir. Near the summit Dan laid down on the rocks and started holding his head. I was worried that he had altitude sickness but he claimed that he was feeling fine and was just laying there waiting for me.

Dan resting

Me on the summit, Mount Rainier in the background

Ryan summited well ahead of everyone else and when we got to the summit he was ready to go down. He was cold and his eyes were hurting for lack of sunglasses. Ryan claimed to have been on the summit for two hours waiting for us. Ryan looked cold and miserable.

What not to wear

360 degree summit view

Joe says we summited at 11 and spent one hour at the top. I was not looking at my watch at all and to me it felt like we were only up there for 15 minutes. We found the virtual geocache at the summit shack, but we did not find the regular cache. It was too windy on the ridge and all the rocks were stuck together with ice. I divided my summit time between taking pictures and sitting on the roof of the shack. We had a lot of company on the summit but it was all good company.

The trail was crowded, but it was crowded with back country people, good people. I did not see a shred of toilet paper or litter on the trail. The only trash I saw was what was left over from the old summit mining operations. I also did not see anyone carrying a fishing pole up the trail. But there was a fishing lure on the summit bench mark. I'd like to do a linear regression, something like number of hikers with fishing poles vs. number of toilet paper blossoms. But, I don't relish the idea of looking for and counting piles of turds.

The view from the top was good but we were above the clouds so we could only see the tops of other mountains sticking up out of the clouds. The mountains we saw were Hood, Rainer, Saint Helens and Glacier Peak. We could barley see Saint Helens because clouds were almost up to the top of it.

As we headed down some clouds briefly descended onto the false summit. Luckily the clouds left quickly and did not block our view of the route down. Sulfur scented mud started flowing down the trail near the summit and my shoes got muddy. It was trippy and I felt like I was looking at a miniature lahar. For most of the hike I could smell the sulfur, but it was only when we got near the summit that I figured out what the smell was.

The snow softened up quite a bit by the time we headed down and I was glad for that since I did not have crampons. Joe, Ryan and Dan took the first Glissade down (Ryan in blue jeans) but I opted to walk. After my near death experience glissading on Mount Ellinor I’m pretty much terrified of glissading. I went down on the rocks and got to the bottom of the glissade chute at the same time as the rest of the group. At the second glissade chute Ryan and Dan took the glissade and that was the last time we saw them.

Joe was not sure if he wanted to glissade, he said that the first glissade made him nauseous. Joe was getting nauseous, headachy and dizzy and he said he felt dehydrated. But I thought he had elevation sickness and I encouraged him to get down the mountain fast. While Joe was deciding if he was going to glissade or not I told him that what ever he decided I would meet him at the bottom of the chute. I headed down on the rocks. When I looked back I saw that Joe had decided to go down the rocks too. But he did not have trekking poles so he had to use his ice axe for stability. He could have gone down the snow with his crampons but they had hurt his feet on the way up so he didn’t want to put them on again.

I waited for Joe at the bottom of the chute, when he got to me he said he was really feeling bad so I suggested that we try to get down to a lower elevation as quickly as possible. I wanted to get off the mountain too but I was really afraid of glissading and could not very easily go down on the snow without crampons. I panicked, I was really scared, I knew I was going to die up there on the mountain, and then I came to my senses. Joe showed me how to hold my trekking poles while glissading. I had my ice axe with me, but could not use it because my trekking poles refused to collapse and I could not very well glissade with fully extended trekking poles hanging out of my pack! The glissade was fine but I panicked a few times. Twice I said to Joe “I can’t stop!” And I was sure I was going to die and then I stopped myself both times and both times I said “Oh I can stop”. I must have been a funny sight to see! I probably never went over 5 miles per hour on the glissade. For the most part Joe chose to ski down the slope on his boots rather than glissade. So we went down the mountain together, me on my butt in the glissade chute and Joe right next to me on his feet. Getting down the mountain was a team effort; I think we both would have struggled if we had been alone.

Icy rocks and clouds near the summit

When we got down to the rocks at lunch counter we rested up until Joe felt well enough to walk, we also retrieved our water bottles at Lunch counter (9,000 feet). We had opted to leave one water bottle each at lunch counter to pick up on the way down. We rested up and drank water at lunch counter and Joe started feeling better. As soon as he felt better I prodded him to go down at least another 1,000 feet. I wanted him to get down to 8,000 feet so the altitude would stop affecting him so badly. Also at this point I was really wanting to book down the mountain and be done, the beast was back. My energy level was high and I was ready to go.

After we left the rocks at Lunch Counter we had to go down the Crescent Glacier and we both chose to glissade most of the way. At the end of my last glissade run I saw a huge deep dark rocky hole and I knew it was time to stop glissading! There were a lot people glissading with us at that point and we were all having fun. The slope was not as steep and nobody was afraid of getting hurt. Here is a video of that glissade.

Getting up the Mountain was a real struggle, but once we were off the glaciers going down was a cake walk. I felt good on the way down except I kept slipping and falling down. I must have been more tired than I realized. But still, I felt good.

We made it back to base camp (Cold Springs) at around 4:30. When we got to our camp site we were a bit surprised to see that Ryan and Dan had packed up their tents and left. Ryan left my new wool socks on the back bumper of my Jeep. They were soaking wet, inside-out and had a hole in them.

At camp I did not know what to do with myself. Normally at the end of a hike I drive home and clean the house, but I was not going to drive home that night. Joe had enough sense to know what to do with himself. He laid down in his tent and rested. I was afraid that if I laid down I might not be able to get up again. Eventually, I decided to have a Dixie cup of apple wine and after that I calmed down.

Joe and I camped together that night and he drove back home to Portland in the morning. I hung around the campsite eating, resting, reading, drinking wine and trying to decide what to do with my manic but exhausted self, until about 3pm and then I drove home. I was not eager to go home to my messy house and hungry children but I also did not want to spend another cold night at Cold Springs campground. I had brought my warmest down sleeping bag with me but I was still cold the two nights I spent at Cold Springs. Also there is no water of any kind at Cold Springs campground and my water supply was getting low.

I drove home on highway 14 on the Washington side of the Columbia River. The very first time I drove a Semi-truck on the job, some 20 plus years ago, it was on this twisty road. That truck driving experience was more frightening to me than climbing Mount Adams.

I had wanted to drive home from Mount Adams via the 23 road but I missed my turn and was in no state of mind to fiddle around with route finding. At least I did not drive into Oregon on the way home.

All in all I had a good time but I wish I had not been in a better state of mind during the hike. I’m glad I got to do it and I feel proud of my accomplishment. Climbing Adams was the high point of my summer both literally and figuratively. I would like to do it again when I am feeling better.

12.8 miles round trip
6,700 feet elevation gain
162 miles on my trail runners now

The pictures are in the same order that my mind is in an the moment.

My shoes

Track Log and Elevation Profile, don't have a topo map of this area.

Summit marker

Our group on the summit

Track log on google earth

Dan rests while a dog gets ready to summit. This dog was pulling its master up the hill.

Snow and ice on Adams and Ranier

Half way between the true summit and the false summit St. Helens in the back ground

resting and my snowshoe glove

Shadow on my tent at Cold Springs

The summit Shack

Dan, Joe and random person on summit.

Resting on my way up the true summit

Poop Target

Mountain Men

Climbers look at the false summit

Pikers Peak

Rocks and Sky

View of the summit from Pikers Peak (the false summit)

Joe signs the registers

Joe and Dan in front of summit shack

A hiker leaves the picture

Group of climbers going up at about 8,000 feet.

Fog rolls in as Ryan and Dan head down.

Some dude standing on the shack

Dan panned out on the shack

If I had the time I really could have had fun taking pictures of this interesting area just below the tree line.

Here are some pictures that Joe took:

Joe's Track Log and Topo Map

Summit dog Pikers Peak (false summit) in Background

All of us with the summit dog

Me resting on the shack with Dan and Joe Ryan is sitting on the ground.

View Of Mount Adams from near Trout Lake