Climbing Back in Time: Mt. Adams Adventure

Legends of the Puyallup tribe tell of two great warrior brothers, Klickitat and Wyeast, who fell in love with same woman. Her name was Loowitlatkla, or “Lady of Fire”. Loowit, as she was called, was known far and wide for her wondrous beauty as she tended to the Bridge of the Gods that spanned the mighty Columbia River. Klickitat and Wyeast began a tremendous fight over the beautiful Loowit, burning villages and destroying whole forests with their flames. The great chief Sahale could not stand for this destruction and struck down the three lovers. Where each had fallen he raised up a mighty mountain. Because of Loowit’s beauty her mountain was a symmetrical cone dazzling white. Wyeast’s mountain stands tall, his head lifted in pride. But Klickitat had a tender heart, and his mountain bows its head in sorrow, weeping to see the beautiful maiden Loowit wrapped in snow. Centuries later western pioneers would rename these peaks, Mt. St Helens, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Adams.

Mt Adams

Although the summer climbing season has come to an end and winter is upon us, it is never to early to think about what you can do when the sun is finally shining again over the northwest. Mt Adams at 12,281’ is the second tallest mountain in Washington state, and the 3rd tallest in the Cascades. Despite its height and rugged appearance, reaching the top of this volcano is not too difficult. There are 2 separate Class 2 routes up the mountain making it one of the few non-technical cascade volcano climbs.

MtAdams

I climbed Adams a couple of years ago via the South Spur Route. Most climbers make this a two day climb, electing to camp at the 9,000’ plateau on the south side known as Lunch Counter. Not wanting to carry a heavy pack halfway up the mountain, I elected to go light and fast, completing the 12 mile, 6700’ round trip climb as a day trip. Getting an early morning start I set out in the dark from the South Climb Trailhead at 5600’. By the time dawn arrived i was clearing the treeline and beginning to see the stunning views i would get to enjoy for the rest of the day.

Before long I reached the first snowfield and equipped my boots with crampons. Since this climb is only across snowfields and not glaciers with hard packed ice, micro-spikes would work just as well. I would also recommend an ice axe to be able to arrest a fall if necessary. But know how to use it! If crossing snow makes you nervous, late in the season it is possible to make the entire climb without crossing snowfields. Just be warned that this is much harder as Adams, like the other Cascade volcanoes, is just a pile of loose pumice and ash that sometimes feels like walking in sand. The snow is much faster, especially if you climb in the morning before the afternoon sun has a chance to soften it.

South spur

Once at Lunch Counter you get to see the South Spur. A 2000’ snowfield climb to  the top of Pikers Peak. Just know that once you reach the top of this false summit you will still have another 1000’ to go. Once on top of Pikers Peak, it's a short jaunt across the saddle to and up to the true summit.

Pikerspeak

The summit is also home to Washington State’s highest elevation fire lookout! The structure took 3 years to build between 1918-1921. But then was only staffed during the summers from 1921-1924. Could you imagine hauling all those building materials up there by hand? Now the building is partially encased in ice and buried in snow for most of the year but it is worth the visit to see this truly unique piece of history.

Firelookout

The route down is much more fun than the climb up. Adams is famous for its glissading. Most notably the 2000’ descent from Pikers Peak to Lunch Counter. It's so satisfying to descend in minutes, what took you hours to climb.

Mt Rainier

This is was one of my favorite and most rewarding climbs I have done. While strenuous the payoff is amazing. Plus everytime i see the mountain now I can reminisce about what it was like to stand on top of it. Maybe some of the native peoples stood on top of it as well, as they told their stories.

 

Our Favorite Fall Ciders

The best season of the year has finally arrived and the second we saw a tree with one red leaf on it we went out and bought all the pumpkin brews! Living in the Northwest means we have access to amazing local cideries and a couple were even kind enough to send us a sample of their fall seasonals. There's something for everyone, no matter what your go-to fall flavor is!

Favorite Fall Ciders - Hollow Jack from 2 Towns Ciderhouse

Hollow Jack from 2 Towns Ciderhouse

Semi-sweet, 6.4% ABV

This autumnal brew is made up of fresh-pressed apples, caramelized heirloom pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and a dash of honey and spices. We loved the tartness and that you can really taste the pumpkin notes as it isn’t masked by spices. This is 2 Towns first pumpkin cider to ever be bottled and it’s pretty damn fine!

Chaider from Schilling Cider

Sweet, 6.5% ABV

If chai is your fall flavor of choice, this cider is for you. The first time Dustin and I tasted this was actually on our first date so we were so excited to review it again here! This is an annual release from Schilling Cider where they collaborate with Dragonfly Chai, a specialty tea microbrewery in Portland, Oregon, to produce this autumnal bliss!

Locust Cider Sweet Aged Apple

Sweet Aged Apple from Locust Cider

Sweet, 5% ABV

This award winning cider is full of flavor. What’s just as amazing as the cider is that Locust gives a portion of sales of every cider you purchase to the hydrocephalus association, an organization that works to improve the lives of those living with this rare brain condition. You can read more about their cause and donate at LocustCider.com.

Finnriver Forest Ginger

Forest Ginger from Finnriver

Semi-sweet, 6.5% ABV

Heirloom apples, fir tips and organic ginger combine to create a crisp cider with earthy, herbal notes and a hint of spice. This botanical cider is made from Washington apples and fermented on their farm on the Olympic Peninsula, then stepped with locally harvested Douglas Fir needles. It doesn’t get more Northwest than that!

CliffBreaks Blend from Snowdrift Cider

Cliffbreaks Blend from Snowdift Cider Co.

Semi-sweet, 7.1% ABV

This fresh take on a classic English cider has notes of grapefruit, melons and dried butterscotch. This is Snowdrift’s most popular cider and is made in the heart of Washington apple country, just east of Wenatchee. The light carbonation and medium body makes this a great complement to rich, savory fall favorites like sweet potatoes and stews.

Pumpkin Spice Cider

Pumpkin Spice from Seattle Cider

Semi-Sweet, 6.9% ABV 

Crisps apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove and just a touch of pumpkin combine to create this flavorful fall cider. It’s the perfect companion for all you favorite fall shenanigans like tailgating, hiking and pumpkin carving.

Give these a try and let us know which one is your favorite!

Favorite Fall Ciders

Weekend Trip to Central Oregon

We were lucky enough to spend Labor Day weekend in the mountains, just west of Bend in the Deschutes National Forest. My family has been camping there for years, spending at least a week every summer at Lava Lake Campground. Central Oregon is one of my favorite places to visit and I really wanted to introduce Maren to this amazing place. I have also been trying to introduce her to my love of climbing mountains, and the South Sister is a great beginner climb.

Lava Lake near Bend, Oregon

We arrived late Friday night (thanks to Seattle traffic), set up camp, called it an early night and decided to push our climb out to Sunday so we would be well rested which was perfect because we got to spend Saturday doing a little warm up hike with family. 

We headed out to Lucky Lake, an easy, well established trail just a mile West of our campsite. On the way there, we passed the Deschutes River and naturally had to stop for a beer. This proved to be a nice, short day hike and is a great way to experience the Three Sisters Wilderness.

Drinking a Deschutes Beer on the Deschutes River

We got up early Sunday morning, had a good breakfast (thanks to mom) and set out to summit the third tallest mountain in Oregon. We arrived at the trailhead at 8:30 and started our adventure. The route begins with a steep, well defined trail climbing about 1,500 feet to a long plateau above Moraine Lake. You'll walk through beautiful meadows for about a mile but don't get too used to the grade as it won't be long before you are climbing again.

From here the terrain rapidly changes are you climb towards the upper reaches of the mountain. The landscape changes to mostly ash and other volcanic debris. This is when Maren wanted to quit but I convinced her to keep pushing on.

South Sister Summit

Around 9,000 feet you reach a small tarn. This green-colored glacial lake creates a picturesque scene with the surrounding contrasting rocks. From here it's 1,000 feet up loose pumice and ash to the rim of the crater. Then it's only a quick jaunt across the snow-filled crater and you're at the summit at 10,358 feet. Unfortunately it wasn't a clear blue day, but the views were still pretty legit! 

After a quick bite to eat at the summit it was time for the descent. We were back at our campsite by 3:00 and were pleasantly surprised to see my sister Devin who had unexpectedly flew in from Denver! We spent the rest of the weekend playing with her new puppy, Harley who is Bergen's new best friend. We had a campfire, s'mores and went star gazing - the usual. All around a great trip to Central Oregon. Can't wait until we visit again!

The Summit of the South Sister