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

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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

Eat

 


 

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“Let’s see here.  Allright, two dozen Reese Cups, gummy bears…”

Here it comes.

“Ramen…yep.  Uh, jar of peanut butter, tortillas, M&M’s.  Instant potatoes, um, two three, ok.  Ten Snickers, bag of Fritos, and, oh yeah, donut holes.”
The heavily bearded, slightly emaciated hiker in front of me nararated as he packed his foodbag.  Let’s call him Redbeard (a common moniker along the AT).

“And I could never do without these.”  He held out a sleeve of off brand sandwich cookies; the kind you find on the snack tray in the fellowship hall before church a service.   I looked at the Oreo knockoffs, nodded that I understood, and waited, expecting a punchline.   He shrugged and dumped them into a ziplock and crammed them in his pack, next to a few tuna packets and instant oatmeal.  His friend exclaimed from the trash can just outside the entrance of the grocery store.

“Dude somebody bought Triscuits!” He was gazing into the recepticle, full of hiker trash.

“Amateurs.” muttered Redbeard as he pulled the lid from a pint of Edys Moose Tracks. Continue reading

The Blister Whisperer

When your main form of travel is your feet and travel is your life-force, then the health of your feet becomes a top priority.
The old saying, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” rings true if you replace “momma” with “your feet”. For this reason, I have tried with many trials and errors to find a way to move about in the world that will keep my feet–and therefore myself and those around me–quite happy. Continue reading

“Oh my god, it was near-impossible!”

Common among hikers is a way of talking, of storytelling that is seemingly meant to scare fellow hikers; an explosion of a simple experience into something near-impossible or almost-unattainable. The exchange usually ensues as such:
Hiker A – “Hey, how was the ascent of Mount X?”
Hiker B – “Oh man, it was so gnarly! There were slabs of granite at almost a 90 degree angle that were all moss-covered and you couldn’t climb up without using both hands and feet! One small misstep and you’d definitely plummet right off the mountain!” Continue reading

No Pain, No Maine: A Month in Photos

The old AT thru hiker adage, “No Pain, No Maine”, normally applies to northbound (NOBO) hikers and is used to keep spirits up as they push through the first 2,000 miles, essentially implying that without a bit of pain and suffering, you will never finish the trail.

Well since we’re southbound (SOBO), we started with the hardest terrain first, and we soon realized that the saying applies to us SOBO’s too, because, well, Maine hurts. From ankles to knees, backs and buttocks, the first 300 miles of the trail worked us like a couple of couch potatoes. Continue reading

The 100 Mile Wilderness in 5 Days

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Banana pudding, peach cobbler, vanilla ice cream, hand-tossed pizza, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, fresh fruit and crisp vegetables, moist homemade carrot cake, savory hummus and salty Pringles, pasta, butterscotch fudge, swiss cake rolls with espresso, pop tarts.  Fucking pop tarts.  This was the gist of our conversation as we ascended White Cap Mountain, our first major climb since heading south out of Baxter State Park. Continue reading

It Is Complete. And Now We Begin!

We did it! Coast to coast on bicycles!
We survived the diesel truck-laden highways and the swarms of curious, kind, and interested people which whom we encountered daily on our cross-country bicycle tour.

Dun digga du-du DUN!

Bicycling from Big Sur, California down to San Diego, across through southern Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and through Florida’s panhandle to St. Augustine made the coast-to-coast trip official. At over 3,500 miles in about 3 months, it became the norm to wake up, eat, drink coffee, pedal, eat, pedal, eat, drink coffee, eat, pedal, pedal, eat, top the day off with a beer and a shooter of bourbon, conk out in sleep, and repeat the process day-in and day-out. Continue reading

The Art of Sleeping Wherever You Roam

Sleep: One of the most natural of animal needs and recurrences, necessary for growth and revitalization. It’s as free and simple as lying horizontally, closing your eyes, and relaxing your muscles and mind away from stimuli and toward a shifted consciousness of dreamland. Ahhh…sleep.

However, if you’re not planning on sleeping in a house, hotel, RV Park, or designated campground (i.e., if you want to sleep for free), then sleep is, um, not always that simple. Sleep shouldn’t be ‘illegal’ and you shouldn’t have to always pay for it. It should be free and simple, so we intend to make it that way! Continue reading