Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday, 9/21/08 Mt. Helen

Mt. Helen (13,164)
5 miles
2,800 vertical
1:45 up/3:15 RT

Allison, Sierra and I spent the weekend at the cabin where we were married 4 years ago near Hoosier Pass to celebrate our anniversary. We spent the day Saturday hiking to Wheeler Lake, but not getting up anything due to a late start, fickle weather and other fun activities. Sunday morning, the weather was still less than inspiring with intermittent rain/snow showers, so we slept in and relaxed at the cabin with no agenda other than to delay as long as we could stand and see if the weather improved.

We ultimately got cabin fever and decided to give Mt. Helen a shot on the way home, as the weather seemed to be improving, albeit marginally. We parked at the Spruce Creek TH and began walking up the road to the Wheeler trail and then took a right. We soon came to a locked gate, walked around and then immediately headed West up the steep hillside following the path of least resistance. After a few hundred vertical feet, the terrain became a bit more manageable, although still steep. We found a nice shallow, grassy gulley that led us directly up the fall line to the open and grassy East facing slopes. High up, there were occasional patches of snow, nothing to slow us down, but just enough for Sierra to have a blast in. I can say with confidence that she is eagerly awaiting winter.

It was lightly raining at the start, but the sun came out and warmed things nicely. For the entire hike, there were dark clouds threatening all around, but none were electrical and we enjoyed a perfect little weather window. On the descent, we deliberately went out of our way to trek through a few small aspen groves that were at their peak and went picture crazy. This was an awesome consolation hike after pining away for a summit all weekend. We took our time and really enjoyed the day.


Saturday, 9/20/08 Wheeler Lake

7 miles
1,500 vertical

Allison, Sierra and I spent the weekend at the cabin near Hoosier Pass where we were married 4 years ago on Sept. 18th. We arrived at the cabin a bit later in the morning than I would have liked and settled in, had breakfast and discussed options (nearby 13ers that we have not done). We decided that we would try for Wheeler Peak, a nearby bicentennial. We did not get going until 10:15am and were slowed by wet conditions and a parade of SLOW moving jeeps. The skies soon clouded over and became threatening. We took a long break at Wheeler Lake and decided that Wheeler Peak was not to be. Allison was feeling sick (a bug she caught at work), plus the weather was deteriorating quickly, so we gladly called it a day. Of course, just as we decided to head down, so did the brigade of Jeeps which we played leap frog with, sucking in exhaust and filthy cigarette smoke. I eventually cruised past the redneck brigade, but Allison was lagging behind. I was feeling bad, but I was a bit peeved and stayed ahead hoping she would catch up. Soon, another parade of ascending Jeeps approached, creating a massive traffic jam, allowing Allison to pass and we never saw them again. Awesome day out despite the crowds of 4x4s and the not so great weather. The colors were amazing, contrasting vividly with the snowcapped peaks.

We arrived back at the cabin around 1:45pm and hung out reading, napping and relaxing, then headed out for a nice dinner in Breck.