Mount Adams
May 30, 2022
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I will start this off by saying I am a bit biased. I have climbed all of Washington’s volcanoes before this and I believe that Mount Adams is the hardest. Not because it is tall, or technical, but simply Pikers peak. That hill is a spirit killer. You think you have climbed the mountain, you can see the crest of that final hill after all, and as soon as you cross the precipice, bam, another f@#*ing mountain. I have only made it to the top twice (including this run) and every time I see the mountain from other peaks, it still haunts my dreams. Mount Adams is a beast and worth every climber’s effort. But all this is just to say that the extreme emotion of topping out on this beauty probably influenced a lot of what I have to say (and felt) about this particular climbing day. I think today’s post is really just me getting some stuff out of my head mixed in with a climbing report. If you don’t like sappy love stories, then my other description of this route might be a better read.

views on drive to yakima
views along our drive there
lake stop for lunch en route to the climb
lake stop for dinner
deer crossing in trout lake washington
deer crossing in trout lake washington

Elena (henceforth TrailCutter) and I met on a dreary Pi day just a few months prior to this climb. We moved fast from a slice of dessert to a day hike, a summit of Mount Elenor, and then a whirlwind trip up Mount Hood’s pearly gates. Honestly, the 1 month or so it took us to sleep in a car together and climb an 11,000 ft volcano way too early in the morning felt like a whirlwind. I think a couple of times along the way I forgot we were still in the infancy of the dating process.

After Mount Hood TrailCutter told me she wanted to climb all of Washington’s active volcanoes in a year. It seemed ambitious, but I wanted to help her take on the challenge. So, I started watching the weather like a hawk. Any chance or excuse to hang out with the lady of your dreams, right? One weekend I saw the perfect, very small, weather window on Mount Adams so I suggested we take the chance and head for the summit to get the train rolling on her goal. The road up to Mount Adams’ south climb trailhead was still snow-covered until several miles before the actual Mount Adams’ south climb trail, but we both felt like it was too good to pass up.

trailcutter and waterboy on mount hood
TrailCutter and Waterboy (Mount Hood)
pearly gates climb mount hood
pearly gates climb

We arrived very late at night and when we reached the farthest point in the road we could go, we attempted to park, had to dig the car out of the snow with some snowshoes, and then finally set up our bed so we could set off into our dreams for the night. We planned to leave early the next morning. However, when we woke up it was pouring rain. We knew it was going to rain, but both of us felt dismayed at the quantity and began rethinking our plans. Luckily I had cell service and was checking every weather report I could like a madman. The weather window we were looking for still existed. So, we decided to wait out the rain in the back of TrailCutter’s Volvo for the day and then make a run at the peak early the next morning with light packs instead of camping on Mount Adams. During the day we only saw one troop of people going up the road, they were soaked just leaving the parking lot and did not look happy.

We would not see them again so I do not know how their trip went, but, we also never saw them on the summit so I am guessing not great… That group passing us is my first really clear memory of this trip. We were sitting in the back of the car on a mattress talking bullshit, eating snacks, laughing, and wondering what tomorrow might hold for us. In the midst of all of the boredom, people-watching, and snacking TrailCutter snapped a photo of our feet next to each other. If you like sappy love stories, that photo will be important later.

car camp site mount adams
car camp
hanging in the parking lot near mount adams
the feet picture mentioned

We woke up the next morning and did our best impression of motivated humans making a groggy run at the top of an inconsequential pile of snow (you know, a summit bid). The first few miles sucked. It was colder than hell, the road walk defined the word boring and both of us were a bit grumpy from living in a vehicle for two days. Nonetheless, we pressed on and made it to the actual trailhead in about an hour or two.

From Mount Adams’ south climb trailhead, we made quick progress using old skin tracks and a few snowshoe tracks as our guides through the woods. By the time the sun came up, we were approaching the lunch counter with some spectacular views of sunrise and a little pep back in our step from feeling warmed up. We did take a brief break at the lunch counter for photos, but also knew that our weather window would close if we took too long and tried to move with a bit of haste.

first morning view of mount adams from south climbn
first view of mount adams
mount hood at sunrise
mount hood at sunrise
sunrise from near the lunch counter
sunrise below lunch counter

From the lunch counter, the climb got rough. I usually handle altitude pretty well, but for some reason on this day about halfway up Pikers peak I started to feel a weird pain in my stomach. I wasn’t worried. I have had altitude sickness before and I was fine, so I pressed on. But it only got worse. By the time we were nearing the top I was oscillating between feeling sick, feeling like vomit was going to come out of me, burping, feeling better, and then repeating the process. TrailCutter wasn’t sick but she kept telling me she was feeling more worn out than she should be and was starting to drag. Honestly, both of us were becoming a mess. I was on my (8th date?) with the woman of my dreams and trying my best not to belch vomit every time I took 4 steps. Superb.

the lunch counter on mount adams
the lunch counter
TrailCutter and Waterboy at the lunch counter
TrailCutter and Waterboy
waterboy working up pikers peak
waterboy working up pikers peak

We made it to the top of Pikers Peak and the one thing I clearly remember was TrailCutter saying maybe it was time to give up. I knew we only had a brief hour or two left and wasn’t going to give up now, so I encouraged her to push on. Approaching Mount Adams’ summit hill was quick and easy but the rise up to the actual summit of Mount Adams was a slow painful slog. The weather was holding out so we both pressed on, but I think both of us knew we were running out of steam.

trailcutter working up pikers peak
TrailCutter on Pikers Peak
celebrating the top of pikers peak
celebrating the top of pikers peak

We made the summit plateau. It was still a half-decent weather day out and we snapped some photos. We had around 10 minutes of sun before it started rain-snowing and we headed back down. Talk about great weather timing.

mount adams summit views
summit views
mount adams summit views
summit views
mount adams summit views
TrailCutter on the summit
mount adams summit views
Waterboy and TrailCutter On Summit
waterboy on the summit
waterboy on the summit
mount adams summit views
summit views
mount adams summit views
summit views

I can’t speak for TrailCutter, but for me, the summit of Mount Adams is where it happened. I didn’t know it at the time. I wasn’t screaming it to the heavens or drooling on her shoulder like a puppy. In fact, it took me a while to parse out the feeling which made me struggle to write this post. After all, I do not want to write some dry dribble just to put up a new page. This site is about my journey past drug addiction, through mental health struggles, and through this tragic adventure we call life. It should never be some boring regurgitation of my step count. Just like mountains, this site is all about the journey.

I was struggling to write this so many times over the past 8 months. I tried but I couldn’t make it more than some boring version of “we walked up a hill”. Until I was sitting in a hotel room alone after a trade show for work. Then it hit me. This summit is where this wonderful lady stole my heart. Not some Romeo and Juliet I’ll die for you love story. But real honest comfortable “I might belch vomit in front of you while we climb this peak but we are doing it anyway for your goal” kind of story. Yea, the summit of Mount Adams’ is where I fell in love with TrailCutter.

waterboy near the lunch counter on mount adams
waterboy near the lunch counter
waterboy nearing the summit plateau
waterboy near the summit

I have been in many relationships in my life. Hell, I was married once. But for this first time, this feels comfortable. Like a warm blanket and hot cider on a snowy day kind of comfortable. For the first time in my life, I feel happy, laid back, and comfortable love with another human being. The funny thing is, now I am too scared to say it out loud because I might make her run away. So yea, Mount Adams is the toughest Volcano here in Washington. It will challenge you mentally, physically, and at least in my case emotionally.

trailcutter on pikers peak
TrailCutter on pikers peak
trail cutter heading up the lunch counter
TrailCutter nearing lunch counter

Apparently, that little tiny summit was destined to change my life twice. It was the first Bulger peak I soloed, and now, it is the place I fell head over heels in love with my dream woman, TrailCutter. A type-2-fun addict who doesn’t mind sleeping in a car just to take a shot at standing on a pile of rocks so she can say she did. Now I just need the courage to say “I love you” to her face. That is a summit I don’t know how to climb yet. So instead I just keep a picture she took of our feet in the back of her car saved on my phone for when my day gets tough so I can smile.

That’s love ladies and gentlemen. Boredom-inspired foot pictures in the rain and near-belch vomiting on your way to a summit in front of your dream woman. All those fairy tales have it wrong…

first light of day on mount adams
first light of day
on top of pikers peak
on top of pikers peak

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