Lots of memories of that invigorating and challenging hike/climb on a brilliant August weekend are still fresh. I was at my peak fitness before chronic Achilles tendinitis set in. (My friends called me Motor Mouse back then.)
Predawn on a warm summer morning, we left Hood River and drove north across the Columbia River, through Trout Lake, and up bumpy Forest Service roads to the trailhead, which back then wasn't too well marked or crowded.
I remember a slog up through forest, then emerging onto the exposed flanks of the volcano. I'm sure we had to slather on sunscreen as we neared granular, late summer corn snow while trudging upwards toward the Lunch Counter, our destination for the night.
[Apologies for the image quality of the subsequent photos; they are scanned from old prints, pre-digital 1990s.]
|Motor Mouse with Matt's old skinny tele skis, Adams behind.|
At about 9,500 feet, the Lunch Counter is a ridge on the route up the South Climb where most stop for lunch or pitch tents and sleep while acclimating to the altitude.
It was only about noon when we arrived and dumped our heavy packs at the Lunch Counter. I remember trying to nap, reading, chatting up other climbers, eating, watching a Chinook helicopter fly nearby--clearly on a search and rescue. And watching the spectacular, 360 sunset. (My mom saw on the news that a climber had died on Adams and knew I was on the mountain. She had several hours of anxiety until she heard from me.)
|Our tent, Mt. Hood (Wy'East) on the southern horizon|
|Mt. St. Helens in the dusky distance|
Did I mention that Adams, at about 12,280 feet in elevation, is the second-highest peak in Washington and the third highest Cascade volcano after (1) Mt. Rainier and (2) Mt. Shasta? So getting to the summit is no small feat.
It's a sorta big feat, which requires being in pretty decent shape. Although as we got to the Lunch Counter, we saw a father with two little girls wearing light windbreakers, shorts, and Keds sneakers descending from above. Yikes!
|Climbing partner Matt chillin' at the Lunch Counter|
Halfway up the well-defined path in the snow, we cruised past a solo climber, and just below the summit passed another solo man. First on the summit that day! Yeah, I was in great shape. I don't remember even being tired.
As the sky started to glow reddish-orange before sunrise, we were lucky to witness one of those sights that make you smile in wonder at the beauty of this world: A brilliant shooting star streaked low across the horizon, seemingly below where we stood on high on the mountain. Was that for real?
Beneath a sky as spectacular as the sunset the night before, we watched the sunrise from the snow-encrusted summit. I recall a sense of immense space all around, below us, with incredible views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Hood to our south. If only I had the camera then that I have today.
|Adams summit sunrise.|
I do remember a long trudge out, but we got back to Trout Lake for an afternoon lunch at a gas station-burger joint. I think it was about the best cheeseburger I've ever had. I also think it mightn't have tasted as good if I hadn't just climbed a 12,000+ foot volcano that morning.
|Looking back from Trout Lake to the summit where we stood early the same morning.|
I do have my sights on climbing Mt. St. Helens again this fall. We'll see. But I find it so satisfying to look at Mt. Adams from different perspectives and know I walked up to the top and back.
|Adams from 20,000-ish feet. I stood on top of that once!|
Happy trails and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons!
In between blog posts, visit Pacific NW Seasons on FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram for more Northwest photos and outdoors news.
When You Go