Lowest to Highest Route (L2H)

After finishing the Sierra High Route, the Colorado Trail, as well as a section of Canada’s Great Divide Trail, Virginia and I wrapped up our summer of backpacking with this off-trail doozy: ~130 miles, nearly 31,000 elevation gain and loss, from the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere (Badwater Basin, Death Valley, -282 feet) to the highest point in the lower 48 (Mt Whitney, 14,505 feet). What else is there to say? Feast your eyes and ears below.

Mount St Helens: A 16-Hour Solo Circuit

 

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“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing everyday.” – Winnie the Pooh

After a year of intensely satisfying travel, especially travel of an adventurous slant, willfully hopping back into the workforce with both feet is tinged with hesitance. It’s like chasing honey with vinegar. Resume gets updated, sloppy hair gets cut, and you try and look respectable. If Mom were here she’d spit on a hanky and scrub me red. Continue reading

A Winter Ascent of Mt St Helens

wpid-20150212_181805_1.jpgThe extended forecast showed sunny little icons for the next 7 days, which for Oregon in February is a blessing, so I’m told. The rain had stopped and we sat atop Dog Mountain in the Columbia River Gorge, eating chocolate pretzels and watching the little barges beneath us push their cargo up and down the river. We had driven east out of Portland the night before, finding a fairly level spot to park the van for the night and fell asleep with the sound of Multnomah Falls swishing through the roof vent. The climb that morning reminded us that we’d gotten soft since finishing the AT three months prior, although unlike most of the AT, this slog ended with a view.   To the south, the tippy top of Mt Hood rose from the foothills, and to the north and northwest stood Adams and St Helens, blanketed by snow and standing in deep contrast to the blue sky. We’d tossed around the idea of climbing St Helens for weeks, and here was a perfect window; mild temps, no precip, calm winds. We decided to summit the next day.

Driving back into the city we hashed out the plan. Shove gear into our backpacks, throw some food together, rent crampons and ice axes from Next Adventure. Check, check, check. North on I-5, South on 503, Rt 90 East and follow the signs to Marble Mountain Sno-Park. Was it really that close? As a child raised back East, climbing volcanoes was akin to swimming to the moon. Yet here we were, preparing for an alpine start and not another car in the parking lot. Continue reading