Saturday, November 09, 2013

Ah, Teneriffe!

Because the WA State primary and then the general elections swooped in almost immediately after the Mt Rainier adventure, I've barely had time to pause and reflect.

Rainier was AMAZING. I had a small anxiety attack at midnight at 12,000' when we started the final trek to the top, and had to turn back. But 12,000' is now the highest height to which I have ever hiked (beating my previous record of 10,000' at base camp the year before).

And I loved every minute on the Mountain.

I discovered I love hanging out on glaciers. I discovered exactly how in-shape I was (despite ongoing body-image issues that women in our society are told to have), what my personal hiking style is, and that there is actually cell phone service at 11,000' on the southeast glacier. Also, that there are bees that high up, despite there being no vegetation.

I'll be back to finish the summit in the next few years!

So then a few months after the Rainier summit attempt, I summited Mount St Helens - though it's now considerably lower in elevation (8,365' to Rainier's 14,410'), the journey to the top was completely different. (No glacial travel, though there is one glacier on the mountain.)

For starters, the trail past the timber line is straight up ash and huge pumice boulders. It's extremely humbling to realize that, once upon a time when I was a baby in Wenatchee cranky because I couldn't go outside to play in the falling ash, the very boulders I was scrambling over were being formed deep within the earth's crust and ejected nine miles into the atmosphere above St Helens before landing on the slopes for future climbers to maneuver around.

The view at the top is similarly humbling: the mile-wide crater, with the growing lava dome in the middle, dozens of vents spewing steam, and the entire north slope of the mountain completely missing (and the forest still pretty scorched and desolate).

The main steam vent was captivating - I took tons of footage of the plumes spiraling upward.


And when we finally got fellow climbers at the top to hush, the most humbling experience of all...

You can hear the mountain rumbling.