Growing up in the Pacific Northwest I’ve often peered at the rich landscape without fully ascertaining the volcanic beauty and the history of the emerald valleys that blanket the foothills of the ancient volcanoes rising into Zion.
Haphazardly, after a failed job interview at a local ranch, we began driving aimlessly up random forest service roads in an attempt to reconnect to our happy place and find a trail to hike. The washboard gravel roads tested our patients, our bodies, and our rig as we violently bounced around in the cab seeking adventure. With patients running thin and emotions high, we were about to fold our plans and settle for a quiet night reading aloud to one another in our simple home. The Eye of the World was calling. But, as we rounded a bumpy switch back on this hellish road we saw a promising sign ahead, Mnt. Adams South Climb route nailed precariously to a tree. We looked at each other and without a word we knew we wouldn’t be reading about this night. We were going to summit Mount Adams.
The alarm went off at 4 AM. After several tabs on the snooze button we walk shortly after 6 AM And scarfed down a quick but calorie dense meal that would fuel our 12 mile round trip up and eventually back down the summit. Finally, at 6:40 AM we were off to spontaneously climb our first volcano.
The ascent was rather smooth and uneventful, until we reach the halfway point. The clear, calm morning gave way to a slight breeze and began to bring huge clouds that envelope the final push to the summit. From our resting place, surrounded by volcanic rock and ash, we sat and wondered if this was the end of our summer attempt as the clouds thickened and doubt filled our minds.
We sat in awe for over an hour with our fingers crossed hoping the ominous clouds would break. Boredom sank in and we realized we failed to bring our book or playing cards for general entertainment. Then we met a friend, Lexi. She started shortly after us at the trail head this morning and when she arrived we all chatted and told stories about our travels and the growing wish list of places we wanted to go. And go we did…UP!
The last 3 mile push to the top of Adams was an awesome challenge that took a straight up Crescent glacier and then to Mazama glacier and finally the summit of Mount Adams at 12,276ft.
Atop mount Adams there is a small, dilapidated wooden structure once used as a fire lookout by the US forest service. Not much remains of it since it was abandoned in 1924, safe for the bandannas and prayer flags left by numerous other climbers. For us, The clouds brought 50 mph winds that had us hunkered behind a pile of volcanic rock to break the gusts as we ravishingly chow down a cold lunch of cold couscous. Temperatures dropped and with frozen hands and fingers we begin our decent back to the comfortable 80° temperatures a few thousand feet below.
Although we didn’t have a parachute to glide down with the airstreams we did make an enjoyable journey down the slopes. The glaciers that burned our muscles coming up lead to a bit of competitive Shoe-skiing down and a few wipeouts to top it off.
Before returning to the comforts of a modest home on wheels we were pleasantly surprised by four large mountain goats who graciously paused for a quick photo shoot. We also continue to hike with our new friend Lexi and made plans to summit another peek that we had been looking at throughout the entire day, Mount St. Helens!