Mount St Helens

It has taken me a couple of days to recover, sort through all my photos, and try to come up with a few encouraging/positive words about this trip. Let me start by saying that this was my first 3 day 2 night backpacking trip, and in my opinion, two nights too many. Hunger is at an all time high, exhaustion has doubled, and dirt has accumulated in thickness. I started this trip with excitement and anticipation, and ended feeling mentally and physically exhausted. Last Friday night we drove 3 hours SE to a small town near Mount St. Helens. A relatively stress free drive, passing a few deer on the way. We stayed at Tall Timber Motel, arriving just in time for Friday night karaoke. There was a lot of moving and shaking, mostly by locals, and a few questionable souls. Later, in the room, exhausted and slightly terrified, I lay on my bed imagining all things creepy and crawly. I zipped myself up tight in my sleeping bag, separated from the world, and anything that could bite my toes.

The next morning we checked-out and grabbed breakfast at the Tall Timber Restaurant. I tried to consume as many calories as possible, which was remarkably easy due to the fact the my omelet was 80% cheese, 15% egg, 5% vegetables, and deep fried in 100% oil. Feeling a bit nauseous from the mornings events, we started our windy drive up the mountain. The weather was glorious, and stayed so for the whole trip. Bright blue skies, not a cloud to be seen. Perfect weather, until the sun started to set, and then my body turned into a shivering mess. Barely able to keep warm, each night I would dive into my sleeping bag creating a cocoon. Waiting for the sun to return the next day. 

Day one started off relatively easy. A few scrambles, through some gullies, up and the down. We finished the day 30 minutes before sunset. I was tired, but content. My shoulders a bit stiff, but nothing too out of the ordinary. I was reassured. I can handle this, I thought. The next morning we took our time. A late start to the day followed by a long lunch. We had traversed through giant lava boulders, up and down giant gullies. A good enough hike to call it a day. As we continued to hike, we were extremely confident that we had trekked half of our anticipated 11 miles. After passing a sign post, we realized that in fact we had only hiked 2 miles and that we had 9 more to go. It was now 2 pm, and I had a very unsettling feeling in my stomach. (This is the point at which I almost cried). We ended the day at 9:00 pm in the dark. The last two miles were spent carefully hiking down a mountain (trying not to fall off the cliff edge), guided by a tiny light. Paranoia had slowly begun to kick in, and my intense fear of being eaten by a cougar was getting the best of me.

I could barely put on my shoes the next day, swollen and blistered. My legs no longer functional. But, indeed I wanted to make it out of this hike alive. Again, another day of gullies, traverses, and sand. Seven hours later, and we finally made it to the car. I have never been so excited to take off my shoes. We quickly drove to the closest Mexican restaurant to consume as many calories as possible. After drinking a Vitamin water, my body started to go into shock. I started shivering uncontrollably. I could barely eat my food. Leaving the restaurant, the waiter asked if we had been riding horses. Funny enough, the only thing that could have made this trip a little easier. I'm glad to say that I made it home, in one piece, with a bit of my sanity left. Although, I haven't managed to leave the couch, my spirit a little fragile. I will be happy if I never see a pack of tuna, a bag of tortillas, oatmeal, almond butter, and soy jerky again. Am I glad that I did this trip - yes. Will I do it again - no. Was it difficult - yes. How long will it take for me to put my backpack on - probably a year. The best part of the trip - the end. 




14 comments:

  1. Wow what an adventure, but I understand what you say. Some time ago, I did a similar trip, just one night, and 4 years later I still try no to spend more than a day up in the mountains. But hey, the pics are great, this place must be amazing!

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    1. Thank you. It is an absolutely breathtaking place. A couple of years ago I did a day hike and enjoyed it just as much. I guess I am not much of an over-night backpacker :)

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  2. Oh wow! These photos are truly stunning. :)

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  3. Beautiful pictures, but I'm so sorry to read it was quite a rough experience for you. I hope next time will be better!

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  4. Hi Heather -- I found your blog by way of your comment on my blog :), and I have to say, thank you for stopping by my blog so that I was able to then discover yours... because it is STUNNING. Will definitely be visiting this beautiful place more often. :)

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  5. I'm sorry to hear it was such a rough trip, Heather. I'm glad you made it home safely. Your photos are stunning.

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  6. Sounds like a hell of an experience. Once your muscles start feeling better, I hope you can really appreciate the beautiful pictures you took. Though I don't blame you one bit for not wanting to go again. I find it hard to believe sometimes that we leave the comfort of beds, food, and running water to sleep on the ground. Whether you pick up your pack again, at least you know for sure why walking barefoot across carpet is a treat.

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    1. Exactly. Thanks for the encouraging words.

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  7. Indeed. We definitely have lots in common. I think we should be friends.
    XO, Kathleen

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