October 23rd, 2006

Ceci n'est pas une personne.

(no subject)

A few months ago I heard on the news that the Forest Service was reopening Mt. St. Helens for hiking to the rim. Knowing Emily enjoys hiking, and thinking it sounded like a cool thing to do, I sent the article to her and she promptly got us passes to hike to the rim.

As this is just a 5 miles up, and 5 miles back hike, I thought this would be a cake walk, so we started a rigorous training program of eating out, going to shows, judging (but not competing in) Kinetic Races, going to costume balls, and spending a lot of time at the brewery saving our energy for the hike.

The weekend rolls around so we drive down to Cougar, WA, getting there just before 9pm to sign in. We then found a a camping spot in Campers Bivouac on the south side of the mountain and set up camp. That morning, knowing this was just a 10 mile hike and we normally hike 2mph, we leisurely hit the trail about 9am.

The first two miles was a vigorous but doable 10 to 15 degree climb through some scenic forest.

Then we reached the tree line and started on the rock trail, which was about a 30 degree climb, and started out well defines, but pretty soon you were making your own trail just trying to get from marker post to marker post as you see fit. It went for a bout a mile like this.

The next mile was interesting because you stopped hiking and start climbing. It was a 45 degree to 60 degree climb as you work your way through boulders.

I should mention at this point that as we climbed the wind got steadily stronger and stronger, and even through three lays of longies and sweater, and a wind breaker, that wind was cold. When we reached this point the wind was a steady 50-60mph, with strong gusts. It was dusty, and you were being pelted with rock chips. It's getting in you mouth, eyes, and nose.

The last mile is about 45 degrees of sand and scree. Every two stops you take, you slide back one. We made it about half way up this. I was miserable, as I didn't have goggles and couldn't see from all the sand blowing in my eyes, and Emily seeing my obvious discomfort said she was sick from the altitude and said she wanted to go back do (I'm sure it was just a ploy to save me). At this point we were just averaging about one miles every three or four hours.

The hike down, in some ways, was harder, in the same way climbing a tree is easier than going up. Combine that with your leg muscles spasming from too much work and not enough oxygen...

As it was, it was a good time we turned around when we did, as the sun set just as we reached the trees, and I would not have wanted to work my way through the rocks in the dark.

Anyway, I've done the Inca trail, and Emily has done several grand canyon hikes, and we both feel it was one of the hardest hikes we've each done.Two days later and my legs still don't want to function. We're thinking of trying again next year, with me having some better gear, and both of us having some better conditioning.

Nothing says dork style like climbing gear!

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So... Who's coming with us next year?