Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mount Adams

All the pics here: (click me)

If you have followed our adventures you might remember the pictures from our Mt Saint Helens climb last year. In the pics and writeup you might remember a few pics from the summit of St Helens where Adams was next door. Well the rough plan was to climb Adams next and this past weekend we made it happen.

Mt Adams is the 2nd highest peak in Washington state after Rainier. The south face of the mountain is known as a great first mountainieering climb since it is not very technical. All you need to climb the mountain is crampons, an ice axe, and a lot of energy. We managed to get together a gang that had all of these things and we all proved it this past weekend.

The week was a little crazy with work, life, picking up rental gear from REI (and some had to search around town for crampons when REI ran out) but in the end we headed out of town Friday afternoon. Natalie and I rolled out of Greenlake about 4:45 and after fighting through traffic we picked up Dan from his house around 5:30. Traffic was the theme for the day and by the time we got to Auburn area, picked up Laura and Matt from work, ate (mexican what else?), and got to the campsite it was midnight. We setup camp in the dark and were all passed out quickly.

After sleeping in Saturday we packed up camp and headed up the mountain. The first day was a climb from camp (5200ft) to what is called the lunch counter (9200ft). All of this climbing is done in 3.5 miles and completely kicked my ass. Even without gear it would be tough but after adding in all the ice axes, crampons and other climbing gear I think everyones pack was pushing 50lbs. It took us about 4.5 hours of hiking and popping through a hail storm before we got to our camping area. The camping areas on Adams are setup as stone rings since you are above tree level and the wind rips across. Luckily we found three great campsites next to one guy (Joe) who was already setup and kicking back. When we first rolled up I was thinking, man this guy is going to hate that we are butting into his private space looking up at the summit. Turns out Joe was up there solo and was happy to have camp mates. We all got along great and ended up climbing with Joe all the next day.

Saturday afternoon was a blur of setting up camp and trying to cram some food in our faces. I was so wiped out that I really don't remember much except for finishing Dan's dinner and deciding I was too lazy to cook my own. We all sacked out before the sun even set with the plan that we would get up at 4am to start the climb.

Well true to our hiking past everyone, including Joe, slept through their alarms (we knew he fit in) and we ended up peeking out of our tents at 4:30am wondering what had happened. It was pretty cool looking out of the tent and seeing headlights dotting the slope from other climbers who had started out on time and were making their way up.

After a lot of dragging ass we managed to start the climb at 6am and were shortly slogging up the first snowfield. The snowfield was steep and we all shortly settled into a step step breath rythem. It was beautiful being out there. All we could hear was the wind whipping by and gradually all of the surrounding peaks lit up with the sunrise.

The first section was a 2000 foot climb up to a false summit. By the time we hit the top the sun had risen and you could see Mt Hood clearly over your shoulder. Everyone way psyched hitting the top of the false summit.

As we were hanging out behind some rocks taking a break we met crackers. Crackers was the most bad ass little dog I have ever met. This tiny dog ended up making it all the way to the summit.

After a nice break we all packed away the crampon and ice axes for the push to the summit. This late in the year the summit got enough sun to where we did not need anything more than hiking poles to make it up. We crossed some scree fields and at the base of the final push we crossed the Adams glacier.

We had a 1000ft push at the end but since it was free of snow I think we all found it was not as bad as the fist bit earlier in the morning. Before we knew it we were out of breath but at the summit. Woohoo!! Hang out and smell the sulfer of the volcano!

This summit was just over 12,200ft and had amazing views. No matter which direction you looked you saw a volcano. To the south was Mt Hood, to the east was Mt Saint Helens, and to the northish was Mt Rainier. It was really cool looking back on Mt Saint Helens and thinking that last year we had been looking over at Adams thinking how cool it would be if we could climb it one day.

After about an hour we headed back down to camp. We hiked back to the false summit and that is where the real fun began. The first snowfield that we had climbed gained 2000 feet and had taken us about 2 hours. On the way down we could slide through the glissade chutes and made the descent in about 15 minutes. These chutes were over your head at the top and you were cruising once you dropped in. To slow down you could lean back on your pack or dig in your ice axe. There were tons of smiles on the way down.

Natalie dropping in

Having a blast!!

We all defrosted a little and headed back into camp.

After breaking down camp we loaded up heavy packs and dropped from 9200 feet back down to the car at 5200 feet. About 2 miles from the car all conversations turned to food. Luckily we had beer, chips and salsa, cookies, and other great stuff waiting for us at the car. We relaxed at the car for a bit and then followed Joe to a great brew pub back in Hood River. I don't think I have ever eaten anything better in my life. The drive back to the house was a killer but we rolled in about midnight, took quick showers and passed out.

I have to say a special thanks to Matt for showing us the ropes and making sure nobody stabbed themselves in the face with an ice axe. It was a great weekend and I can't wait to get out and do it again. You just can't beat a great group of friends getting out in the woods.

Next weekend is a relaxing one hanging out at a cabin by Mt Rainier and I can't wait!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Day 21 - All great things must come to an end

Mileage - 190 (if things had gone according to plan it was only 150)
Ride Time - 10.5 Hours

The day was a bit of a late start since Palmer and I were having a blast at the Casino last night and did not get in until about 1:30am. We went in to grab some food and check out the casino and ended up playing craps for 4 hours. Luckily at Oregon casinos they do not give you free drinks as you play so other than feeling tired, and a little lower on money, we were ready for the last day. After stalling a little and putting up a blog post we loaded up and hit the road.

The day started out great. We cruised down some really beautiful logging roads and were making great time.... then the re-routes started. I think the thing with the Oregon section is that there is so much logging the roads tend to be constatly changing. Once you get sucked into the spiderweb of roads it is tough to find your way out. Our first re-route ate up about 20-30 miles of riding and at least an hour and a half or more. Our short day to the finish was quickly expanding.

Eventually we worked out way out of the spiderweb and then ran into the landslides that we had read about but were hoping had been cleared. Well these were still there but luckily we were pretty good at finding re-routes by this time and managed to get back around to the trail pretty quickly.

The last 70 miles of the day has to be the longest 70 miles I have ever ridden. I was having to manually scroll through the route on the gps as we rode due to a glitch in the gps so every time I scrolled to the next screen full of route I was sure it would be the last... well every time there was just more out there. We just kept running up and along the razor thin ridges. Really pretty but at this point the sun is starting to head down and I wanted to see the pacific by dark.

Eventually we started loosing elevation. All I could think of was this was the point in the trip when the captain comes on the radio and tells you were are beginning our dedscent and thanks for using this airline. In my head it was "this is the trans america trail speaking, we are beginning our descent to the pacific and hope you have enjoyed your bumps and bruises this last 4300 miles.. we know you have choices in which trails you ride and are pleased that you chose this one..." In the end we came around a corner and could see Port Orford below us and the sun getting ready to sink. We pulled in to town just in time to ride out to the beach, snap a few victory pics and try to let it sink in that we had just ridden across the country on dirt bikes. 4300 miles, at least 4000 of it was dirt or trail, and we were unhurt on motorcycles that for the most part were operational and able to get us to Portland the next day.

Little did we know that the adventure had not ended. We had much more in store. As we were getting everythind loaded back up on the bikes and off the beach before the tide came in it dawned on us that we had focused so hard on the trip itself that we had not really thought about the hotel for the night. Normally this would not be an issue but we were at a costal town in Oregon on the 4th of July holiday weekend. See where this is going? Yep, no hotel rooms anywhere. I pulled up a list of hotels in the GPS and started calling... sorry no vacancies.. 40-60 miles each way up and down the coast every hotel was sold out. Hmmm, that is not what we had planned.

So since it was going to be a long night, it was only 9:30, and we had not eaten since having a Gatoraide for breakfast we thought we should find some dinner. At first we could not find anything that was open. Where were all these people that had filled the hotels? Just as we were giving up I spotted an old flat roofed building with what looked like beer signs lit up in the window. We were in luck and a bar, that served food, was open. We walked in covered in dirt and wearing our filthy riding gear and were immediately accepted. The band was great, the beer cold, and I had my 5000th BLT sandwich of the trip for dinner.

At this point I was ready to throw a tent out anywhere and get some sleep. I asked the waitress if the police would care if we camped out in the park just down the road and she said w would probably get kicked out but she would keep thinking on where we could stay. As we were finishing our food out waitress came over and said she thought she had an idea on who to ask about camping. "There is the guy over at the bar that lived in the shed behind my house for a while, I bet he will know where you can camp..." Lewis, our camping advisor, came over and introduced himself. "So you guys are looking for a place to camp? I am camping at a spot just down the road right now and you guys could probably fit in there if you wanted. Of course you would have to camp where I pee." This guy said all of this with a straight face and I 100% believe that he was offering up his pee spot for a campsite. We gratefully said we did not think that was a good idea but did he know of anywhere else? "Well there is one place... you had out of town on 101 and right after the bridge just turn left. Look on your left immediately after the turn and you will see a bunch of concrete barriers with no trespassing written all over them. Just behind those barriers is a great flat spot and nobody will see you back there." Well we were so tired this seemed like a great idea so we finished dinner and headed out.

We were quickly over the bridge and then, right where he said it would be, there was a concrete barrier with no trespassing written on it. There was a small berm of sand to get over but at this point we were so tired we just pointed the motorcysles over and hit the gas. On the other side we were astonished to see a great area for camping. The ground was level and sandy... perfect!! We setup the tent, stopping and turning off all the lights only when a car drove by, and crashed out for the night. I have never slept so well while camping in my life.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Day 20 - Life is great again

mileage - 210
ride time - 9 hours

What a next to last day! For the most part today was straight up gravel cruising. Things got a little interesting when we got to a land slide.

We unloaded both bikes and wrestled them up and over the rocks and roots. We prayed that there would not be any more of those since we were not sure we could find the energy for many more. We did run into several more blocked roads but nothing this size and with a little stacking of logs we were able to get over them.

Eventually the roads smoothed back out and we got back up to speed.

As we were crossing the first blocked road a truck pulled up and after finishing up moving the bikes we got to chatting with the guy in the truck and he told us about some water falls we should check out.

Well as we were crusing along we saw a sign for the falls and decided to check them out.

They were super cool! The only thing I could think of is sliding rock in NC with a giant deep pool next to it. You could just slide down the rocks of you could slide off the side into the pool. Even better you could climb up and jump down into the pool. Here is a shot of Palmer taking the jump

We got back on the road and headed to our gas stop. Turns out the gas station was closed so we were going to be pushing it making it to the next fuel stop. We figured that as long as the roads stayed smooth then we would make it just fine. Well about 20 miles later we were routed into a 4 wheeler trail. The trail was narrow but seemed well used so we figured we would be fine. About 5 miles in the trail headed straight up. When I say straight up I mean it. I have never ridden a motorcycle up anything like this. The first section was steep but the front wheel stayed down just fine. On the second pitch it was so steep that my front wheel floated up a few times. With a little speed, luck, and a little bull riding like style we were on top. According to the GPS this trail did not go anywhere but we followed the route anyway and it just worked out. Before we knew it we were cruising down logging roads and hoping they ended up somewhere.

In the end we made it to a gas station and headed to the hotel.

As usual we just got into the hotel and are wiped out. We are planning to dig deep, grab some food and check out the casino down the road.

Day 19 - Not a great day until the end

mileage - 170
ride time - 9 hours

Well today was the first day that was really just not very good.

The quick summary is just locked gates

Then the trail dissapeared into a pile of rocks. Knowing how tough we are we pushed on through them.

Turns out it just kept getting worse and worse. In the end we wore ourselves out and then had to turn around and go back. I have never seen so many mosquitos in my life. At one point we were turning the bikes around and I had at least 20 (if not more) of these blood sucking monsters on my riding pants. This was the first time this trip that I was very happy to be wearing all this gear in the heat.

So after we turned around we tried to re-route in the spider web of forest service roads we were on. Seems that in Oregon the gates are locked unlike in Nevada where they just have a sign that asks that you close the gate behind you.

In the end we fought our way to Cresent Oregon and the day turned around. To start off our hotel room was themed. Seriously this was nuts! We had antlers on our light shades, light fixtures, an antler on our ice bucket and best of all we had bullets in our toilet seat cover. Check this out...

Also next door was this store.