Celebration of Life 2006

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Washington had 130% of normal snowfall, so we kept it to climbing Mount Adams, riding the Boundary Trail, and climbing Mt. St. Helens.

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The Celebration of Life is an annual event marking the passing of Big Jeff Walker to cancer- to find out more about the Celebration, and about men's cancer issues, see the 2002 version.

Other Celebrations I've done:

The plans for this Celebration had been in flux: members had dropped, snow had melted, terrain had been off limits. But finally it was Sunday night and we met Kurt and Sharn at the cookhouse.

Brian and I re-racked the gear into my car and drove like fiends to the Cold Springs trailhead, trying to beat the setting sun.

Approaching Mt. Adams with snowboard

At 6:15am the next morning, we were off for Mt. Adams under clear, but windy, skies.

Approaching Mt. Adams with snowboard

We talked about our families and reminisced about our adventures- this climb reminded us of our 2002 Celebration. The conditions were excellent and time flew... oh, isn't that the Lunch Counter down there? Then this must be the climb up to Piker's.

One can see a narrowing of the snowfield below the top of it, which is where we dropped the skis and snowboard. The weight wasn't nearly the problem that the wind was, pushing us around as we tried to stay in balance on the still-firm snow (without crampons or axes, we didn't want to slip).

The climb to Piker's Peak
With our loads both lightened and less wind-affected, we made good time toward the summit. The actual summit is at the left. Trudging to the summit of Mt. Adams

We hit the top at a few minutes past 11am. Deschutes Brewery was kind enough to sponsor our outing, so we wanted to get a summit shot. But the bills of the hats, much like our skis, provided aerodynamic lift. In other words, they wouldn't stay on in the gale at the summit.

And now a word from our sponsors

This was a Celebration, so Yokum was along for the ride- he's the figure just to the right of Brian's hat. Hanging with Yokum are some of Jeff's ashes and an amulet with Chris's name on it (Chris is Brian's 12-year-old son who recovered from brain cancer two years ago).

Brian and Yokum at the Mt. Adams hut

There really was no place to hide from the wind, so we headed down. From Piker's we jumped in the chunnel to drop down to our skis. I was a little nervous getting in there without an ice axe, but it proved to be great fun.

Brian in the chunnel

And then we were on board and skis. The snow was a little sun-cupped, and still too firm since it was barely noon. But we had places to be, so we made the best of it. we were able to ski all the way down to the trail below Crescent Glacier.

Then we shot back to the Cookhouse, swapped gear back to the Ford van (graciously provided by the local Ford dealer) and headed for our rendezvous with the rest of the gang.

Telemark turns on Mt. Adams

We planned our departure the following morning for 6am, hoping to beat the heat. Here we are, Team AARP: Brian, Jeep, Dave, and John. Actually, Brian has some time left before he qualifies for full membership.

Team AARP at the trailhead for the Bondary Trail

The Boundary Trail traverses from the west side of Adams, northerly and then across to Norway Pass near St. Helens. Then around the northern aspect of St. Helens to it's west side. However, this pic is of happier times, during the first few miles of easy singletrack.

Team AARP at the trailhead for the Bondary Trail

Later, the trail tread dimished. Here Dave negotiates a section that looks surprisingly like a trail.

Team AARP at the trailhead for the Bondary Trail

 

Brian stated the obvious for this day, "We go up some, and then it's downhill."

Jeep repeats as needed.

Team AARP at the trailhead for the Bondary Trail

Looking back at the terrain we had covered in the first 4 hours. That's Mt. Adams behind Brian in the morning haze.

Team AARP at the trailhead for the Bondary Trail

At about 6 1/2 hours, we passed under this cliffy area. As you portaged your bike, you had to be careful not to knock rocks off onto your fellow riders below you.

During this first day, I quit riding after 9 1/2 hours, but the other fellas kept rolling for 12.

Team AARP at the trailhead for the Bondary Trail

The following day, we all rode another 7 hours, starting up from Norway Pass. This trail was quite...ummm...trailish! You could actually ride most of it.

Sure, there were logs to crawl over, and snow patches to slop through. But for the most part, we pedaled. Since this is in the Mt. St. Helens blast zone, there are no standing trees to interfere with the marvelous views.

Team AARP at the trailhead for the Bondary Trail
There ARE some young trees, as this photo shows. And lots of wildflowers. Team AARP at the trailhead for the Bondary Trail
After about five and a half or six hours, we were finally heading down. The last section of trail was sandy and fairly smooth. It was a great ending to a great trip. Team AARP at the trailhead for the Bondary Trail

We toasted our sponsors with the find Black Butte Porter, pulled from the convenient cooler in our sponr's Ford van.

Team AARP at the trailhead for the Bondary Trail

One trail guide rates this trip as "Absurd +". I'd say that was a bit generous. Also, Jeep posted a ride report on MTBR. He also wrote a story about it on his blog.

After the Boundary Trail, Brian and I went to his house and rested: caught up on the Tour (Go, Floyd!), drank beer, and rode Brian's private trails. Then we drove up to Jack's to pick up our permit and then drove on to the Climber's Bivy for the night. After about 3 hours of fitful sleep in the very warm temperatures, we rose at 1:30 to depart at 2.

No pics in the dark, but we made it to the summit just before 5 for an awesome sunrise. Once we could see, I actually took quite a few pictures but the low-light conditions weren't conducive. These have all been photoshopped a bit.

This shot shows Rainier on the upper right, Spirit lake below it, and the smoking crater dome.

Sunrise from the rim of Mt. St. helens

Once again, Yokum and Jeff were with us.

Brian and Yokum on St. Helens

We got back to the van at about 7am, pulled out the lawn chairs, and had some of our sponsor's products- we thought Jeff would approve.

Then the omelets were calling, and we headed back to the cookhouse.

Brian pointing at the Super Duty badge.
But not before one last shot for the sponsors. Mt. St. Helens with the Fork van

Mr. Natural Home | 2006 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski