Total Miles: 2251.2
A cold night made for great sleeping, and just after the morning no longer required a headlamp, we were off and beginning our fifth month on the trail. A mile or so down the trail, we entered the Mt. Adams Wilderness. Knowing that this massive volcano of over 12,000 feet was looming nearby, even though we’d had no view of it since the weather had turned for the worse two days ago, heightened my excitement for the day since the morning sky above us was at last clear.
Other than a few puffy clouds that hung around the south side of the mountain, the views up to the summit were staggering. Glaciers and rocky ridges unfolded themselves high above us in the early light of the day, with plump huckleberries lining each side of the trail that stained our fingertips purple. Many of them were covered in frost that had been ushered in by the overnight cold, which we suspected was also the reason behind why we saw so few people on the trail this morning despite it being a holiday weekend.
The trail finally abandoned its brief eastward march and instead turned back to its usual northerly heading where we had views of Mt. St. Helens to the west, the top of the mountain looking like it had been neatly cleaved off by the eruption of 1980, and the very summit of Mt. Rainier peeked up and over patchy clouds to the northwest.
The day might have seemed as though the weather was finally taking a turn towards the better but within a couple of hours Mt. Adams was completely encased by darkening clouds that looked as though they harbored bad intentions. Sure enough, as we began walking after a break for lunch, the drops began to fall and what was rain soon became hail. We laughed at how quickly things had turned, and it was Exhibit A for how giant peaks like Mt. Adams create their own weather. Through the hail and underneath the angry clouds from which it fell, we could see far out to the west and into the blue-skied sunshine that was now only a memory.
The dance between rain and hail began to lose steam and eventually we were left with only the cold until late in the afternoon when the sun would occasionally fight its way through the clouds. Several southbound hikers mentioned that trail magic was waiting for us up ahead so we pushed on to make it there around dinner time. Josh and Lisa welcomed us to their site on a little used dirt road and were quick to offer us a wide array of goodies: hamburgers, baked potatoes, hot chocolate, beer, soda, and a chair next to the fire that may have been the greatest magic of all. By the time it was 8:00, dusk was falling and we said our goodbyes to head up the trail and find a spot to camp for the night. On the edge of an open meadow, we’re tucked in among the trees for another cold night. A crescent moon hangs from the sky and beneath it a distant set of substantial clouds that give the illusion of being an ominous range of mountains. A perfect end to a trail birthday.