We planned this trip for months. Originally we were going to climb Mt. Rainier, but then The Explorer went to Alaska and every time we tried to summit a mountain something stopped us and we decided my first major climb shouldn’t be the most topographically prominent mountain in the lo’fo (lower 48).
We climbed Mt. Adams, the second highest peak in Washington, instead.
Daryl and Nick share a birthday on June 4th and my birthday was June 27th, so it was decided we shall have an annual birthday trip. I dubbed this the First Annual, Non-Segregated, June Birth Month Trip. They are both Geminis, and most of our friends in Missoula with June birthdays are Geminis, but I am the lone Cancer. I had to make sure the name specified all were welcome, because otherwise it would turn into a Gemini-Fest!
We woke up in Astoria on Wednesday with plans to breakfast at the Columbian. Unfortunately, I was feeling less than stellar and couldn’t really taste anything, so we decided to wait until I was feeling better. (And let me tell you, I’m glad we did because breakfast a week later was DELICIOUS!)
After coffee, tea, a sandwich, and the perfect bowl of chicken noodle soup at 3 Cups, we set off for Portland to pick up Nick. He treated us to an Invasive Species IPA from Captured By Porches. We cheersed to “summit or die”, loaded up the SKIburban, and headed off to the Mountain Shop to rent crampons and boots. I found a hiking skirt on the clearance rack and decided I needed to buy myself a birthday present!
We stopped once more in White Salmon to eat dinner at Everybody’s Brewing where we sampled all their beers, had an amazing view of Mt. Hood (above), and ate some of the best mac&cheese ever.
After dinner, we drove to the Trout Lake Ranger Station to get our permits and our leave-no-trace, pack-it-out bags, then we drove to the snow. We knew we wouldn’t be able to drive to the trailhead yet, so we checked out how far we could drive, then snagged a great camp site in the Morrison Creek Campground.
The next morning we woke up, started a fire, and worked on a plan of attack for the mountain. We decided we’d skin about halfway up to the Lunch Counter on day one, get to the Lunch Counter and camp on day two, then wait for the perfect weather window to summit, before heading back to the truck on Monday.
We got our gear situated and then drove to the snow, about three miles below the trailhead. Once there, we got ourselves situated and managed to not die when rednecks parked in front of us.
We started down the road on our skis. Soon after, we ran out of snow. Two guys were walking down the road towards us, off the mountain. We asked what the snow situation was like and they said “Oh, you’ll definitely be able to skin the whole way up. There’s just a couple of dry patches like this.” This gave us hope, and so on we trudged. And trudged. And trudged. And trudged. The next three groups of people we saw told us the truth – it was mostly dirt to the trailhead, with only a few patches of snow. We were less than pleased.
Three days before our trip D read a trip report that said you could skin most of the way to the trail head. LIES. We had to walk for SO LONG.
The rednecks we saw earlier came past on their ATVs and offered to drag the sled for Nick. That certainly made his trek easier!
We finally made it up the three miles to the trailhead, then headed up the mountain. Just below tree line we found a perfect spot to camp and set up our home for the night. The three of us have been on enough trips together now that we have the set up down to a very quick science.
Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?
The sunset wasn’t much to see that night, but we did get a great view of Mt. Hood from our camp site.
The next morning we got up, made coffee and ate breakfast, then started up the mountain again. Our goal for the day: the Lunch Counter.
But first, lunch break. We stopped at a rock island about halfway up and relaxed for a bit, eating cheese and listening to music.
For most of the day, the clouds were covering the false summit, Piker’s Peak, and the Lunch Counter.
My new birthday hiking skirt! It’s so perfect. Comfortable, multiple pockets, and dance-like shorts attached underneath!
After what felt like eighty-thousand hours and definitely way more than half the trip, we made it to the Lunch Counter! By the time I reached the rocks just below our campsite, I was nearly dead. I may or may not have spent the last thirty minutes of the trudge cursing the entire concept.
But! I made it and The Explorer gave me hugs and kisses and Nick found us a perfect campsite and all was well.
Ozzy has previously been banished from the tent (after an unmentionable incident from our New Years’ Trip), however after he gave us puppy-eyes, we let him chill out of the rain with us.
Speaking of rain, I’m glad we are all friends, because three people, gear, and a dog in a three person tent is a wee-bit crowded.
We fell asleep to sounds of rain and wind on the prayer flags (thankfully we were camped on light pumice, something John Muir long ago point out was indicative of a natural shelter from the wind.) We were very thankful we gave ourselves multiple days to summit the mountain.
The Explorer woke up the next morning to a BEAUTIFUL sunrise. Perfect time for some Fort George product shots! He then went back to sleep and we all woke up sometime later, to a cloudy mountain.
Nick brought one of his kites with him, so we were able to make the most out of the socked in day.
Our sweet campsite.
The clouds cleared out in the afternoon, so we set off to ski and have fun for a bit.
After a bit we decided to hike up to the high point of the Lunch Counter. We decided to break into the 1811…because why not?
p.s., The Explorer and I are pretty cute.
Nick is brave and sent his GoPro up on his kite. I definitely wouldn’t’ve done it!
After kite flying for a bit, we settled down, made dinner, and went to sleep dreaming of the summit.
We were rewarded for our patience and dreams with the most perfect morning ever. It was gorgeous. There were so few clouds in the sky. We were given a perfect climbing day by the mountain gods.
I had such major butterflies before we set off. I hadn’t ever summited a real mountain before. I hadn’t ever used my ice axe before. I hadn’t ever summited a real mountain before. I was nervous. Daryl gave me a hug, told me he believed in me, and off we went.
We zip-zagged our way up the face to Piker’s Peak, the false summit.
Of course we had to take more product shots. What kind of Fort George Ambassadors would we be if we didn’t?!
After a lunch break, we skinned and hiked over the false summit (I dropped my skis earlier in the day), down the saddle, then up to the actual summit.
I DID IT!!! I climbed a mountain, from the bottom all the way to the summit. 12,281 ft and I climbed it all!!!
Rainier, next year I’m coming for you!
Fort George on the summit!
Nine years after his original accent of Mt. Adams, The Explorer finally skied off the summit.
We had such a perfect day for our summit. I feel truly blessed to have had a full five days to climb the mountain.
Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, and the shadow of Mt. Adams.
By the time we all got back to the tent, we were totally whooped. We had to force ourselves to eat dinner and drink water. I’m not sure I’ve ever been as exhausted as I was that night.
We woke up the next morning and broke down camp. We were a bit worried that Ozzy would hold us up on the way out, but he was a champ and still feeling great, so off we went.
The snow was so great! I was a bit worried about skiing down with weight on my back, but it wasn’t a problem at all!
We made it down the mountain and out of the trees in no time!
But then we had to walk and drag the sled for 3 miles. So lame.
Obviously we didn’t reach our 100 days of skiing goal, but I’m proud of us for getting 20 days in this season. We would have gotten a lot more had Daryl not gone to Alaska and the snow been a bit better, but all-in-all, I’m really happy with how the season went.