As I write this, my face feels like it’s melting off, my scalp is burnt and my neck and chest are beginning to itch.
Yes. This is a sunburn from hell.
But definitely worth it. (Well I’m sure I’ll think so in 3-4 days)
This past Saturday myself and himself decided to hike Mt. Adams. And no, it wasn’t just a last minute thing – this is something we had been talking about for a while. Soooo to celebrate my recent 200 RYT graduation (YAY!) we felt my first weekend free would be the time to do it. We checked the weather conditions and with nothing but blue skies, we gave it the green light.
To the campsite
We rented our gear (crampons, ice axes and walking sticks) from Mountain Shop and took off for Adams Saturday morning. The car park was absolutely PACKED when we got there but we managed to snuggle the truck in to a lovely spot. So, after much anticipation, we made our way up the South Climb of Adams. This is Washingtons second tallest peak at 12,276 ft and we were all guns blazing to make it to the top.
We left the truck around 12:30pm and the hike although beautiful, was so incredibly hot. After getting through the forest (remains of a fire), we hit the snow fields. There was nothing but grueling inclines from here but with a reward of some awesome views of Mt. Hood and other mountains. We found a lovely nook of a campsite about 1000 ft below Lunch Counter 3.5 hrs later and set up camp for the night. These little campsite were PERFECT and offered up beautiful views of Mt Hood and Mt St Helens. As the sun set, the sky was transformed in to a magical blend of red, purple and blue and have to thank Korey for pulling my cold, weather-chicken self out of the tent to check it out.
The next morning we both slept in and didn’t leave the site until around 8am. In hindsight, this was way too late and we should have probably gotten up an hour or two earlier. Anyhow, we ditched our bags in the tent and started our ascent, with crampons belted in and ice axes & walking sticks in each hand. From where we were camped (at 8,500ft), it took us around 3.5 hrs to get to Pikers Peak (11,657 ft). By this stage though we were exhausted. We’d run out of food and only had a drop of water left between the two of us. I could also feel my skin start to burn (NOTE: Do not think it’s ok to leave the sunscreen behind!) and we were just about out of time. So, we listened to our bodies and decided to head back to camp after resting for a bit. The views from here were just stunning though and what was most surprising was that there was butterflies everywhere! It was pretty wild to see!
Now, the fun part. Glissading. Ever heard of it? I hadn’t and it was probably one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done. Never in a million years would I have thought I’d willingly throw myself down the side of a volcano, sliding on my arse in snow. But it happened and I survived and it was exhilarating. Well, when I meant to do it. I actually slipped off the side of a ridge when hiking from the campsite to the car park and flew down with the ice axe swinging next to my head – NOT FUN. Anyhooo, it took around 40 minutes to get from Pikers Peak to our campsite and then a further 1.5 hrs to get to the car park. Where we threw our bags in and surrendered to cushy seats and A/C. Aaaahhh.
A note for next time
All in all (and I only say this now because I’m remembering the fun parts and not the tough ones) the whole thing was insane. I would absolutely do it again and next time, I will make it to the Summit! We both agreed though that it was good we turned around because a) I more than likely had heat/ sun stroke and b) Korey’s ankle wasn’t in great shape. So, for anyone who is thinking about attempting this hike, my advice would be:
- Arrive at the car park early to get a spot
- Wear factor 50 all of the time, load it up and don’t forget, wear a hat and bring the sunnies
- Pack plenty of food, energy snacks, water and fuel for the jetboil (to melt the snow)
- It’s super warm up there in June but VERY cold at night so pack accordingly
- Make it to Lunch Counter the first day, wake up at 05:30am the following and Summit early leaving time to re-energize once you return to camp
- Bring an extra pair of socks – it’s miserable squelching around with a puddle in your boot
So there you have it. I nearly got to the top of Mt. Adams. It was insane, and wonderful but I’m nursing a gnarly sun burn that’s going to make me look like a monster when I visit Korey’s family next week in Boston. So peace out, I’m off to find the aloe.
PS – If you’re looking for some further information, this blog post from Washington Trails Association is a useful source!