Sunday, September 25, 2022

Hike: Hamilton Mountain, Hardy Creek, Little Beacon, N Bonneville, WA


AllTrails map

Getting There

Take WA-14 from Vancouver, WA east toward N Bonneville. Just after Doetsch Ranch you'll see the Ranger Station on the north side of the road just before the Beacon Rock parking lot, then another road across from the bathrooms. The road winds up the hill for a bit.

The Hike

Length: 9.13 mi
Elevation gain: 2,493 ft
Moving time: 3:36:01
Avg. pace:
Total time:
Steps: 21,385 (Fitbit)
Floors: 248 (Fitbit)
Calories: 3,216 (Fitbit)

It's been a minute since my last visit to Hamilton Mountain.. It was my first hike since the MSH attempt. I was good to reach the top and continue to the Saddle and Little Beacon.

I tried an experiment, somewhat planned, somewhat impromptu.

I didn't eat much and was hemming and hawing for most of the morning. I finally set out on Hwy 14 around 2pm. I got some Gatorade, a sandwich, and a couple of power bar thingies.

As I made my way up the sections, I was feeling a bit worn down, similar to how I felt during the MSH hike. When I reached the switchback under Little Hamilton, I started sipping the Gatorade. I didn't help right away but I feel a little boost and kept forging ahead. I was passed by an older guy and I was catching up to a couple with a dog.

They all pulled away and up the mountain. I saw the older guy on his descent but the couple were headed to the Saddle as well. I passed them on the ridge.

I finished the entire bottle of Gatorade and felt energized.

On Hardy Creek, I passed a guy with a tripod and thought, this guy is going to be hiking in the dark.

I did make it down to Little Beacon just as the sunset was dipping below the horizon, Archer Mountain(?).

Beacon Rock from Little Beacon

Sun setting to the west

Little Beacon

Soon to be muddy trail to Hardy Falls

Gorgeous view of the Saddle and Hamilton Mtn

Requisite Selfie from Little Beacon



Friday, September 16, 2022

Hike: Monitor Ridge Climbing Route and Ptarmigan Trail, Mt St Helens, Cougar, WA


Footpath map

Getting There

I left around 3:30p and made it there just after 5p sometime. I took I-5 North to Woodland. Then WA-503 E toward Cougar. It's about 30 miles to the town and the turn off for Climber's Bivouac is another 3.5 miles.

Follow NF-83 for 3mi. When you get to the clear cut area (ugh!) look for NF-81 and veer left. It's another 1.5mile of pavement to 830 Rd. It's a 1/2 mile to the campground on a dirt road.

I opted to make a cocoon in the back of my Jeep rather than setup a tent etc. I found a level spot this time near the trailhead. 

There were people arriving all night (11p, 1a, 3a, 5a). I didn't sleep very well and I got moving around 6am. I was on the trail at 6:20.

The Hike

Distance: 6.94mi
Elevation: 3,560 ft
Highest Point: 7,289 ft

I passed a few people on the way through the forest. I made good time but I felt a bit sluggish, low energy. A lemon (yellow flag). I forged ahead.

I started the technical stuff above the tree line. I was new but familiar the same time. I tried to visualize the route I took last time and keep track next to the lodge poles.

I could hear a group below me in the fog and see three hikers about 1000 yds ahead of me. I snacked on a cliffbar to try to re-energize but I was taking a lots of micro-breaks.

When I reached the top of the ridge section, I mentally prepared for the boulders. They were a bit daunting but I was stoked to keep reaching the next marker and pushing ahead.

A group passed me but when they stopped to wait for more of their group I kept going.

Eventually I made it out of the boulders and started up the pumice. My legs were pretty heavy at this point. Three hikers passed me and zoomed ahead. I could see the top.

I was taking longer breaks and taking fewer steps between them. I decided to conserve my energy to make a safe descent. The self-imposed pressure to reach the summit was released and I felt better. I am still a bit disappointed to not reach the rim.

In hindsight I think this was largely a nutrition problem. I didn't eat enough of the right foods the night before and in the morning to fuel my body for such an undertaking. I vow to make a third hike next year. It motivates me to keep training and learning about how proper nutrition can really make the difference.

I should have stopped for longer to see if I eating a couple more power bars would have helped. I had plenty of time. 

In the end I made it back to the car around 1:30.. about a 7 hr hike. I didn't have any injuries and didn't need any help. A success in its own right.