Wednesday September 18th, 2013 I summited Mount St. Helens. It was a grueling climb, but amazingly beautiful. I can’t say I’d do it again, however I’m glad we stuck it out and made it to the top.
We started out early, on a cold, damp September morning in the Pacific Northwest, at around 4,500 feet, the highest trailhead available. As we climbed higher, the familiar green landscape of pines and brush gave way to rocky terrain with incredible, tree-top canopy views.
Posts stick out of the mountain every 500 yards or so to mark the way to the 8,400 ft. summit, as the formal path dwindled into a maze of boulders and fog.
Boulders ranged in size and shape, from small enough to kick down the steep mountain side, to as big as a small house! Though the boulders only makes up one quarter of the overall terrain, it took the longest to scale – hours for our amateur climbing crew.
Clear of the Boulders, we hit the shale field, an ice-covered, loose terrain that slides underneath your every step. Nearing the summit, the temperature dropped significantly, the wind picked up, creating icy, cold conditions.
Clear of the clouds, the views really start to open up, and we can see the final trail of footsteps to the top, with a long, stream of climbers wearily close to the summit.
And finally, we reach the summit, staring down into the once active volcano, 360 degree views atop the clouds.
For this non-hiker, it felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Maybe it was just the thin air, or the exhilaration born of my fear of heights, but it was a truly enlightening experience that I’d recommend to everyone who’s able to do it.