I woke up at 5:00 a.m. in the back of my truck since I didn’t actually make it to the Helens area until midnight. It was dark, I was tired and it was way too late for me to attempt pitching my tent. I was just fine blowing up my sleeping pad and crawling into my cozy sleeping bag. The only thing I missed was my dog Asia.
I actually ended up doing this climb solo. It wasn’t my initial plan but my plans to go with friends fell through. I had asked a friend who had summited a couple of weeks prior if it would be wise to go by myself. She said it would be. They allow only 100 people a day to climb pass the 4800 ft. level and if I were to get hurt, someone would spot me. That’s all I needed to hear.
On the way to the trailhead I saw the most incredible sunrise! Since I’m a night owl, I don’t get to witness very many of them. Sunsets are a different story.
The first 2 miles were a typical hike in the woods. Once above the tree line it was a couple of miles of climbing large boulders. The whole way Mt. Adams to the right would wink at you to motivate you to keep going. Then the last mile was slippery ash. It is true when they say “two steps forward, one step back”. At least for the month of August.
I started at the trailhead at 7:45 a.m. and didn’t finish until 4:45 p.m.
Finally reaching the summit, the view will take your breathe away. It’s not every day you get to look in the crater of a volcano. I loved the strength of the wind and the subtlety of the earthy tones Helen’s has. Rust, coppers with varieties of grey that any color scale would be envious of. I pulled my hair out of my pony tail and took off my hat to really feel the wind and closed my eyes. I could feel the grit and ash on my skin and in my hair. It was my favorite part.
I believe summer officially started five days ago and it has already exceeded my expectations. Summer used to have a different meaning to me. I used to look forward to flip flops, lighting bugs, tan skin and lemonade. Now… since living in the Northwest over a decade I’ve let go of the idea of breaking my flip flops out of the box. You just have to accept that our summers here means you slip out of your snowshoes into your hiking boots. Summers here means I don’t have to worry about avalanche risk for a few months in the back country. At least that’s what it’s become to me and I love it!
The longer I live here the more I can’t live without getting out of the city and seeing a great mountain view. I love that I have access to all of this with just an hours drive from my house. Summer has just started and the options are endless of where the trail will lead us next.