Sunday, September 02, 2007

We did it again

Last Wednesday we once again climbed to the 8,525 foot summit of Mt. St. Helens. The first time we attempted it, (in September) we encountered freezing cold, wet and windy weather which forced us back down before we had even gone half way, but this time it was a beautiful sunny day, and clear enough to get some amazing views. 4 mountains were visible (not including the one we were standing on :) --Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson (over 100 miles away!).

My modernized Lewis and Clark pose :) with Mt. Adams in the background

This hike is not for the faint of heart, it involves rock scrambling, 40 degree inclines, and being able to comfortably stand within a few feet of the crater (otherwise you can't see inside). The worst part is, it just keeps going on and on--you top one ridge only to see that the summit is another 3 ridges away, and then when you do make it to the last climb it turns out to be an incredibly wearisome crawl up a 45 degree slope covered with ash and gravel.

But then when you reach the summit, it's all worth it. You don't get that view any other way.

Panoramas courtesy of Christopher

I gave Zach the camera for this shot, and when I came to get my camera back he kept shooting, "No, no more photos!"

We made it to the top by about 12:10 p.m., had lunch, took pictures and did some rock fishing :) That's where you sprawl as close as you dare to the rim and try to retrieve cool rocks with a leather thong on the end of a walking stick. The concept is a good one, but usually your precious stone would slowly slip out and tumble down hundreds of feet into the crater--that's a sickening feeling :)

Daniel performed the traditional ring-toss in his makeshift hobbit costume (for a moment as he held the ring suspended over the rim you could hear people shouting, "Come on! Throw it in!)

Last time he did that it was a month before the second eruption, we wondered if there was a correlation... The dome has grown a lot since the last time we saw it, so we could easily see some more activity in the next few years.

Finally we began the descent by galloping down the gravel slope kicking up all kinds of dust, then refreshed ourselves with some real mountain glacier water. Daniel was still wearing his elven cloak and one guy told him jokingly, "Have fun superman!"

None of us remembered that the hike would be that hard, but as we piled into the truck we all agreed it was well worth it.


Adam Nisbett said...

Wow, amazing views! It looks like it was great fun. I love the shot of Christopher with everyone else in the background.

Benjamin said...

Yeah, you really get a sense for how big the mountain actually is up there. We saw a helicopter go into the crater for a little while and it was just a speck... Can you imagine the incredible amount of force it must have taken to blow away that much material? It's amazing.

I love the different colored layers in the crater wall (you don't see them well in these photos). Maybe one of these years, you guys can come join us, that would be really neat.

BTW there was some sparrows or finches at the rim that I couldn't ID. I wonder how they survived at 8,500 feet when they weren't begging from hikers. I'll send you a photo.

Anonymous said...

Yay, what great pictures! I especially like the on of your hands (I feel your pain ;)) and the one you took of yourself (again, I know how it goes when one resorts to pics of ones self because one has the camera ;)).

And of course the ring! I love it that you guys throw one in every time you go up.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this post and am glad it was a nice day for the hike!

Anonymous said...

Hey, did the pro photographer from the wedding ever give the one's he took of me, Pete and you? Or did any of the one's you took of me turn out? Just curious. :) Because if they're awful I don't want to see them and I would request that they be deleted immediately. :D

Btw, you should check HSA once in a while. ;^)