Mt. St. Helens

August 2nd, 2009

date hiked: July 6, 2009
distance: 10 miles
elevation gain: 4,500 feet
time: @ 7 hours

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I haven’t blogged in about a year, minus a birthday wish to Tyler. So much has happened. Instead of trying to play catch up…I’ve decided to start fresh. About a month ago I climbed to the summit of Mt. St. Helens with a Mazama team led by George Cummings. In the summer, it’s really a hike…although there was still enough snow that we used an ice axe for portions. We camped at the Climber’s Bivouac (taking the Monitor Ridge route) and woke up at 3 am so we could hit the trail at 4 am. Amazingly, we woke up to wet snow…in July! The weather was awful…but we went for it anyway. We hiked through wind, wet snow, rain, and a thick blanket of clouds until we approached the summit. To describe the Mt. St. Helens climb…there are three stages. The first stage is below timberline. You are in the trees and on a maintained trail. There is even a port-a-potty just about at timberline. The second stage is the boulders. There is no trail. You follow large wooden posts and climb boulders. The third stage is the pumice/ash. The first time I hiked MSH (this was my second time), someone referred to this stage as “the stairstepper from hell”. Three steps forward, two steps back.

But then you’re approaching the summit…as we were. Miracles happen. We were covered in clouds the whole time we were climbing, yet 100 feet from the crater rim, blue sky appeared. I bonked. A kind team member fueled me with some Shot Bloks. We went on. We celebrated our summit because we could see the crater steaming and because it felt so good.

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Happy Birthday Tyler

November 30th, 2008

Of course, I have so many hikes to blog about. A three week trip to Yellowstone NP and Grand Teton NP, a summit of Mt. St. Helens, and many more…but there never seems to be the time.

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But today, I only wish my son a Happy 16th Birthday. Last night, just before midnight, the two of us sat together and talked about how big this felt. (to me) I cried a bit. He’s so good. He nods in understanding and tolerates with such sweetness when his mom gets sappy. We laughed about that. He has such a big heart. I feel so fortunate to have gotten to share in his journey. Such a cliche…but the world IS a better place with Tyler in it.

Happy Birthday Tyler.

Rhododendron Trail/Cal Barrel – Redwood NP

July 17th, 2008

date hiked: June 22, 2008
distance: 5.1 miles
elevation gain: 730 feet
time: 3 hours

Tyler and I did this hike together. We had so much fun. It was our first foray into the Redwoods. It was amazing to see how massive the trees were. How they could grow when they were hollow.

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The trail would go right through the trees…literally. It was amazing.

But even more amazing was this:

I don’t believe there is any guarantee that you are going to like your kids. I mean, I know you love them. Of course you do. But if you are honest, I do not think there is any thing that guarantees that you are going to LIKE them. That you will enjoy who they are. We hope for that. Maybe parenting has something to do with it. I’m not sure.

What I do know is that I like my son. I enjoy spending time with him. I like who he is. I like taking up the same space…even though we share different interests.

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We talked about that a lot on this hike. While walking through these massive trees, feeling so small in comparison, Tyler and I felt so solid. He’s grown so much. It all seemed fitting…the conversation, the setting, our hearts.

Fern Canyon – Redwood National Park

July 17th, 2008

date hiked: June 21, 2008
distance: 2.2 miles
elevation gain: 317 feet
time: 1 hour

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After setting up camp in Elk Prairie Campground we set out for the coast to Gold Bluffs Beach and the Fern Canyon Loop trail. The trail’s name describes it perfectly…a wide walk through a fern covered canyon. It seems other wordly at times. It is often hard for me to imagine how such beauty finds its way in the world. It feels to big, too overwhelming. It was a perfect introduction to the area.

There was a herd of elk hanging out on the beach. On the way out of the canyon, one of the elk had blocked the trail. He was within 30 feet of the trail and you had to go by him to get out. We were on a ridge so you couldn’t move around him. According to the park, the elk in this herd have been known to chase people so I was willing to wait until he moved out. However, Tyler was a brazen, brave soul and quietly walked by on the trail. So…I followed.

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After our near elk charge…we went and played in the ocean for a bit. Tyler splashed me more than I managed to splash him. We headed back to camp and went to sleep.

Exposure and Adventure

July 6th, 2008

Tyler and I are up early this morning. We are on our way adventuring again…back from Redwood National Park (which I shall post about soon) and onto John Day Fossil Beds National Monument for a few days of camping and hiking. I asked Tyler to pick a picture to go with this post from our Redwood NP trip and he picked one that he took of me.

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When I asked why this picture? Tyler said that people should see all the hard work I’ve been doing. I was going to make him pick a different picture because this one feels to “out there” if you know what I mean.

Here’s where things feel exposed and quite vulnerable….Tyler is referring to the fact that I have lost about 130 pounds. It has taken years and lots of sweat (and I have about 4 pounds to go before I reach my goal) but I’m almost there. (Then I get another tattoo.) :-)

Tyler is an awesome young man…always encouraging and celebrating my accomplishments.

Now…off to John Day NM

Celebrate

June 21st, 2008

So here’s a list of things I’m presently celebrating:

1. School’s out for summer

2. I received my Master’s on May 3rd.

3. I completed the requirements for my recertification.

4. Tyler finished his first year of high school.

5. I’m finally caught up posting hikes on the blog.

6. In 6 hours, Tyler and I are going camping/hiking in Redwood NP for a week.

7. Alice Smith’s CD: For Lovers, Dreamers & Me

Angel’s Rest

June 21st, 2008

date hiked: June 19, 2008
distance: 5.8 miles
highest elevation: 1650 feet
elevation gain: 1650 feet
time: 1 hour 45 minutes

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I think I have a new favorite quick hike. Angel’s Rest isn’t especially long in distance, nor is it especially difficult. It’s a great hike if you only have a few hours to spare, but still want more than an easy stroll. The most awesome thing is…once you are at the top…you climb this rocky ridge…and the Columbia River goes on for miles in both directions.

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It was so sunny the day I was there. I fell asleep sunning on the rocks, listening to music while chipmunks played around me. I was there on a weekday and there were several people on the trail. From what I hear, the weekends are extremely busy.

Eagle Creek

June 21st, 2008

date hiked: June 14, 2008
distance: @15 miles
highest elevation: @1400 feet
elevation gain: @1400 feet
time: 4.5 hours

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I was back out at Eagle Creek today, but I had decided to hike further then I ever had before. I figured I’d hike to what’s named 7 1/2 mile camp then turn around. It was a gorgeous day. When I arrived at the trailhead there was a SAR (search and rescue) going on. I immediately realized I had no idea what the appropriate ettiquette is. Is the trail still open? Am I supposed to follow certain rules while on the trail? Of course, I had to ask. And I got a look…like, “Are you an idiot?” So…I plugged in my iPod and went about my way (on the obviously open trail, duh).

The hike was awesome. The picture above is just beyond Tunnel Falls. It’s sometimes called Twister Falls or Crisscross Falls. It was so cool. Oh…and the SAR was successful. They were coming out when I was at about the 3 mile mark. Woohoo! Safe backpackers and hikers!

Herman Creek Trail

June 20th, 2008

date hiked: June 8, 2008
distance: @10 miles
highest elevation: @2000 feet
elevation gain: @2000 feet
time: 4 hours

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Herman Creek Trail is somewhat of a misnomer. The trail doesn’t take you along a creek (although you can hear it down below). You occasionally see water. Usually, you are deep in the forest. I’m going to go back again for a longer hike once the snow has melted.

Devil’s Rest via Wahkeena (starting at Multnomah)

June 20th, 2008

date hiked: June 1, 2008
distance: 8.5 miles
highest elevation: 2400 feet
elevation gain: 2400 feet
time: 3.5 hours

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It was a classic Pacific Northwest day on this hike. Misty and cloudy…yet still beautiful. I had decided this year that I would hike no matter what the weather (within reason) because if I waited for it to stop raining I’d never get to head out. I have discovered some of my favorite hikes are on rainy days. For one, it rarely rains very hard, so a raincoat covers things well. Second, not many people hike in the rain so I usually have the trail to myself.

Devil’s Rest is a pile of boulders in the trees. Literally. Most books prepare you to be disappointed because you work really hard to get to the top, yet there’s not much to see once you’re there. Along the way, however, there are some great views…even on a rainy, cloud-covered day. I imagine on a clear day it’s even grander.