Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mount St. Helens

Well, I finally have some time to write about the experience of reaching the summit of Mount St. Helens. I still haven't even unpacked from the trip, though I've been back in Seattle for three days. Hopefully that will get done today.

So first I'll back up to Tuesday, which was the day my Dad and I went to the Ape Caves. We chose to go through the longer section, which ended up being closer to 1.5 miles and from the time it took to go through, felt more like 3 miles. I decided on this trip, that trails at Mt. St. Helens should both provide the actual distance and then provide the 'feels like' distance. With all the rock scrambling you do, it really adds the time on as you're trying to negotiate where the next best step will be.

The Ape Caves were definitely a worthwhile experience. You cross over 27 rock piles in the 1.5 miles and climb up two rock walls that have ropes to help you up in the very dark, cold lava tube (remains about 42 degrees year round).

Climbing up one of the rock walls

Cool lava tube formation

My Dad getting started up one of the 27 rock piles

Wednesday was our actual climb day. Back in February, my Dad booked our climbing permits. They only sell 100 a day to keep the numbers on the trail low so they can book up fairly quickly for the summer months. Since most of the trail is out in the open you usually have other groups of hikers in your view during most of the day. The other thing you have in view most of the day is the rocks that you get to climb over. I didn't read up on the hike enough to know that a majority of our time would be scrambling up rocks. I enjoy this, but after about a mile of it you'd like to able to just put one foot in front of another rather than negotiating where your every step is going to be.

One of our major breaks during the hike up of course included finding a couple geocaches. There's a traditional cache as well as an Earthcache near a GPS monitoring station. The location also provides some pretty incredible views, so it makes for a nice stop on the trail.

Because of all the rock scrambling, I decided that the hike to Camp Muir on Mt. Rainier is much easier than climbing Mt. St. Helens. On the way to Muir you're spending a lot of time on snow, which can be much easier to walk on - and allows you to glissade down so you get to save your knees from some pain! Most of the way going up on St. Helens my Dad and I were worrying about the pain going down might cause. Luckily it actually proved to be a little easier going down than we anticipated - though I know both of us were sore the next day. :)

Getting to the top of St. Helens makes it all worth it. As you come up to the top of the ash-filled skree section at the end, you instantly get an amazing view to the North that had been blocked by the mountain the entire day. It's amazing to see just how big of a chunk of the mountain was removed with the eruption in 1980. You can also see why they warn you about climbing the mountain in winter with the snow cornices - once you get to the top, you don't have much to go to be over the edge down into the crater. It's a pretty quick drop-off. My Dad and I stayed at the top for about an hour eating lunch, getting lots of pictures and talking to a Forest Service Ranger before making the journey back down.

It was a great experience and I'm glad that I got to share it with my Dad. I know he was thrilled to climb the mountain that has such an interesting history. I was already thinking on the way up that I'd like to climb it again sometime - maybe in the Springtime when there's still snow for a different climbing experience.

Dad early on in the day on the trail

Morning clouds and Mt. Hood

Some of the many rocks to climb over

Flowers toward the bottom of the trail

View toward the top with the rocks to climb over

GPS monitoring station

Last stretch up to the top

View of Rainier from the top

New dome forming

Hikers on top and view of Mt. Adams

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mount St. Helens

I'm a little tired and I'm cold since I'm sitting outside using the wifi at the Lone Fir Resort (wifi doesn't reach the cabin) so this post will be short. Basically, we made it! It was a long day, but my Dad and I made it to the top of Mount St. Helens. What a beautiful day it was too - I have the sunburns to prove it.

I'll write a more complete post on the day later with more pictures, but for now, here's us at the top!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mount St. Helens

A first glimpse of Mount St. Helens on the drive to Cougar

It's been a while since I've written here, but that's mainly because I haven't had any major adventures to write about. Of course I've had lots of little fun adventures but in my mind this blog is about the big stuff. The little day to day stuff goes on facebook.

Right now I'm sitting at the Lone Fir Resort in Cougar, Washington. There's probably not much else to do in Cougar rather than hang out at the Lone Fir Resort or maybe go down to the river. Luckily the resort has wifi so I can stay in touch with the world.

So this latest adventure I'm sharing with my Dad. He drove over from Idaho yesterday so that we could spend a couple days exploring Mt. St. Helens. Today we'll check out the Ape Cave which is a 13,000 foot long lava tube. We have our headlamps for this journey since we'll be underground for just over a mile. We'll make the loop through the Upper Cave which is the more difficult section - but it also has a 'light at the end of the tunnel' since it doesn't dead end like the Lower Cave. After our cave exploration we'll check out Climber's Bivouac to prepare ourselves for the big climb tomorrow.

So the main reason for our journey is to summit Mt. St. Helens. Since I got the big mountain out of the way last year when I climbed Rainier, I've decided I need to do the littler big mountains. Luckily the Volcano alert level for St. Helens has been lowered to "normal" so we don't expect to see any eruptions on our climb tomorrow. We mainly expect a difficult hike with incredible views. Of course we'll be finding some geocaches along the way as well. I haven't seen Mt. St. Helens up close since I was about 13 so I'm pretty excited to tackle the mountain tomorrow. I think my dad's excited too.

The hike is about 4.5 miles each way with about 4500' elevation gain, though the steepness may not be the toughest part. I hear the scrambling and hiking through ash near the top is what makes the climb difficult. My Dad and I opted to go for a summer climb to ensure we'd have nice weather but this also means we don't have the snow to make the climb a little easier.

We have the nice weather, so we should have a great day filled with spectacular views!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ireland - Last Day

Sadly enough, my journey has come to an end.  I'm off to the airport in a few minutes so this may not be a very long post.  I'm definitely not ready to leave yet, as I told most of the geocachers at the geocaching event last night.  I will be back!  

Yesterday I took a tour of the Kilmainham Gaol which is a pretty amazing place.  The history of the place alone makes it worth visiting.  On the tour we learned that during the famine, a lot of people imprisoned there had done only minor things such as steal four loafs of bread.  Living in prison offered a better life for some of these people since it meant food every day and a roof over their head.  The prison is also used today for filming a lot of movies, including In The Name Of The Father, Michael Collins, etc.

After that I headed down to the shopping district to get a few last minute goodies.  Then I met up with some geocaching friends for a nice afternoon/evening meeting a lot of local-ish cachers.  Many had come over to Dublin just for the day or the weekend.  It was very nice meeting all of them.

Well, I need to get going!  Like I said, I will have to come back!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ireland Day Six - Dublin

St. Patrick's Cathedral
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Trash Can
North of Dublin
North of Dublin
North of Dublin
Near Newgrange

I'm sad to say it's my last day in Ireland.  There's so much more I wanted to do and wanted to see.  But that will have to wait until next time.  I know there will be a next time, it's just a matter of when.

Yesterday I drove up to visit Newgrange.  It's amazing to stand in a place that was built in 3200 BC.  You just have to be amazed and wonder how they did it.  Apparently the winter solstice is the best time of year to be there, because for 17 minutes in the morning, the sun hits the entrance just right and it lights up the inside.  You have to win a lottery to be able to be there for that.

Then it was back to Dublin.  I decided to tour the Guinness Brewery.  They have a special tour built just for the tours - more like a Guinness museum.  At the end you come up to the Gravity bar where you get a nice view of the whole city and get a pint of Guinness.  

Since it was only a mile away, I stopped by the 800+ year old St. Patrick's Cathedral after the brewery. Unfortunately I was too late for visiting hours, but it's a beautiful church on the outside. 

Anyway, I must get started on my day now.  I'm meeting some geocaching friends for breakfast, then it's off to do some last touring.  Then this evening there is geocaching event where I'll get to meet a lot of geocachers from the area!

Ireland Day Five - Dublin

Dublin at night
Entrance to St. Stephen's Green
Dublin at night
Street Performer
Tribute to the Famine
Self portrait at Trinity College
Cool sculpture at Trinity College
Trinity College
Tourism Office
Near my hotel
The Burren - south of Galway
Graffiti in Galway

It was hard to leave the west side of Ireland yesterday since it's so beautiful over there, but I knew there was a lot I wanted to see in Dublin.   I definitely think two weeks here would have been the better way to go since there's so much to see!  I decided not to head up to Northern Ireland like I wanted to.  I've been doing a lot of driving this whole trip so I figured I would focus mostly on the Dublin area.  I am going to visit Newgrange today, and I may be tempted to drive up to the border just so I can set foot in the UK - maybe find a geocache just across the border. :)

Over today and tomorrow I also want to visit Kilmainham Gaol as it has a lot of connections to Irish history.  Possibly a visit to the Guinness brewery and Phoenix Park.  

I was warned ahead of time, but I really have seen that Ireland doesn't like to use street signs.  Luckily the google maps on my iphone have been awesome, otherwise I'm not sure how I would have found my hotel yesterday!  The only thing I've had to worry about is my iphone battery dying before I get to where I'm going.  

I'm not sure if I just don't listen to the right radio stations in the US, but I have noticed that the Irish LOVE Lady Gaga.  I don't think a day has gone by that I haven't heard her song at least once or twice.  I have been enjoying listening to the radio here.  Last night I caught an interesting reality show on Irish tv called Feirm Factor.  Part in Gaelic, part in English and the grand prize was a Land Rover.  The contestants had to compete in several farm related activities and the person who did the best overall won the Land Rover.  I caught the very last episode - but I won't tell you who wins!

Anyway, I must get going on my day now!