Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Adams West

Some photos from the past. More to follow.

Top end of Trail 112.

If you drive up to the northwest side of Mt Adams in southern Washington State, you first come to a Forest Service campground at Tahklakh Lake.

Junction of Trail 112 and PCT. (click to embiggen)

From there, the road continues to, for me, points unknown. The part I've been on goes only a mile or two farther, where there is a dirt parking area. This is dusty but if you have a small vehicle you can back it in between a couple of trees where it will stay in the shade all day.

Mt Rainier northwest from my campsite. (click to embiggen)

Which is fine, because it's always nice to finish a trip and get into a cool dusty car rather than a baking hot dusty car. Anyway, from that point trail 112 goes straight up the side of the mountain. This isn't too bad. The slope is steady but shallow. In August there are still lots of flowers.

At ridge-end, oggling Adams Glacier.

And there is plenty of shade. And the trail is only about two miles long. Near the top you can get to a stream. It's a typical volcanic stream, gray with silt, so if you take water from it you have to let the rocks settle out and then pour the liquid part into another bottle. But it is wet, and there is shade, and it is a nice place to have lunch.

Panorama at same point, well above treeline. (click to embiggen)

Next, you finish your walk when you hit the Pacific Crest Trail. This is the second photo here (above). There is a sandy flat and there you are. You can go left (north) or right (south). Both times I've been there I've gone south, but not far.

Evening from my campsite. (click to embiggen)

Since it isn't far from where I live, but isn't really close, I've gotten to the main trail sometime after lunch. There isn't really enough time to do much more hiking, and since this mountain was built for pleasure, no reason to either. So I hike less than two miles to the south before disappearing into the trees.

Mr Rainier after sunset. (click to embiggen)

This is the fun part. Leave the trail headed uphill, take it slow, and feel around for a campsite. Having a hammock helps in finding off-trail campsites, but, surprisingly, there are some cleared spots up at treeline. Which is where I've camped, and obviously where others have too. The really nice thing about this, aside from late summer weather, lack of people, no bugs, and a pleasant leisure, is that you can camp sheltered by trees but still have a great view right up the mountain.

Mt Rainier next morning. (click to embiggen)

Another reason for quitting early is to drop the pack and go hiking across the barren slope up toward Adams Glacier, which is pretty much in your face. But a lot farther than it seems at first.

From treeline you go up a gentle slope, then walk on top of a finger-like ridge, and then you come to the end of it and stand there, with nothing between you and the glacier but a mile or so of air. Going forward is easy if you're careful, and on my second trip I walked up to the glacier, which seems to keep getting farther away as it gets bigger. And the walking also gets trickier, but there's really nothing dangerous about it if you go slowly.

Most of the hazard, such as there is, is because of the rocks. While the slopes look grassy they are really a sort of pavement formed of loose stone that has settled over the millennia into a lumpy and unforgiving terrain. It's easy to stumble, and a fall would be painful. Really, really painful. So far that experience has eluded me. Which is fine.