Friday, August 6, 2010

Austin’s 16th Birthday on the top of Mt. St. Helens

Life is truly an adventure! Especially with four teenage boys in tow going up and then down a mountain!

Going up the mountain was great! The elevation can be a killer though and you have to go slowly. The biggest problem was the last 300 yards with snow up to your thighs. You want to stop but the top is right there so you make sure everyone is fine and you just put one foot in front of the other.

At about 100 yards from the top my son, Austin, who we'll call Popsicle Boy had to stop because of his feet. I warmed them up by placing them on my stomach. He changed his socks and up we went making sure the other boys were still following and kept in sight at all times (no cliffs anywhere just lots of snow).

Popsicle Boy was not going to stop until he reached the top so we did it together and then rooted on the others as they finished the worst part of the climb.

Unfortunately, upon reaching the top you realize that now you have to go down. . . in the snow. . . and it's already 5:38pm. That gives you 3 hours to get past the ledge and only about 1 hour to go 2.1 miles through the bivouac. Can you do it? Well, you have to now!!!

So, the quickest way down is the way everyone else does it. You sit down and slide. It may be a mountain but the slope is not vertical and it is actually quite enjoyable until your rear end starts stinging so bad that you want to scream.

Before we slid I made sure everyone knew where we were headed so that no one went the wrong way. "Follow the poles," I said. "Meet at the first crop of rocks and we'll warm our feet." Then you just have to go and hope they obey you.

Now here's the not so fun part. Three of us got to the rocks after sliding down the 300 yards and waited. . . and waited. . . and waited. Just when I was starting to put my shoes back on to see why they weren't sliding down. Here the remaining two came. The Popsicle Boy was in great pain due to the sliding. Like I said, "It hurts!"

We all grabbed him, pulled him on the rocks, pulled off his shoes and socks, and I instructed everyone on how to get Popsicle Boy "Unpopsicled".

The time is now almost 7pm and I am started to look about me for possible helicopter landing spots. Nothing. . . my option. . . get them to the bivouac and we can make it to the ranger station just inside the trees.

I know we have 90 minutes. I set the pace and we get down to the 5th rock crop and miracle of miracles. . . someone has left a pair of very nice REI socks that are mostly dry and warmed by the sun. We swap Popsicle Boy's socks for these and like the lame man, he is cured.

We hit some rather steep slopes and yes. . . against my warning of "Don't go that way unless you can stop." They did go down one of the wildest snowslides you'll ever experience but we got to the woods before the sun went down!!!

The whole time I'm thinking what a stupid idea this was and how glad I am that this is one of the longest days of the year and . . . Oh! Look! A full moon!!! Yeah!!!

Yes, it became dark while we were in the woods buts thanks to the moon it wasn't pitch black and we made it back to the truck only 30 minutes after sunset.

I don't think I want to do that again. At least not THAT WAY!

I am a Crazy Woman! But we all survived and maybe this will remind those crazy teenagers that they are NOT invincible when it comes to making future decisions.

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