In a word, this was "steep." That's what I've told everyone. With less than 4.8 miles to make it 4500 feet of elevation gain, it's just got to be. The first two miles only gains 1000 feet of elevation. You know what that means? That means it's straight up from there. The hike description from Dano is not an elaboration - it gets steeper the higher you go. The first part also involved a little weather. We had rain the night before, and the rain continued into the morning. But it did clear off eventually.
The first stretch is the walk through the woods. That doesn't mean it's easy. It's still uphill. The second part is the boulder field. Think: the last mile on Humphrey's on steroids. It's boulder climbing - which makes it fun for me. I loved this part. It was probably another two miles of this.
The third part, as if the other parts weren't hard enough, is the really hard part. It involves pain (an extreme pitch of ash and pumice scree). Again, I can't help but compare it to something in Arizona. Think the last little bit up to the ruins at Devil's Chasm? But more. And no foliage at all to grab onto. And then the payoff. The view of the rim.
From there, I went where the author if this hike description didn't go. I just had to tackle the summit. I couldn't have my beer until then. So on we went - along the ridge. This part (the optional part 4) was the part that involved much exposure and a very scary 20 feet or so. It just wouldn't be a cindyl triplog without drama, right? So, there is one part that totally had me frozen. I was just two steps into it and I froze. My hiking partner had gone on before, but he had gone out of earshot while I made my way across this part. The ground was ash. No solid ground could be found underfoot. It was easily a 50 percent slope that I couldn't see the footsteps of my hiking partner that went just before. So stressful!
I did make it through, and on up to the top. I did this video of the 360 from the top. I apologize for the wind noise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5Uuh4zE7Lw
. I don't think I've ever felt such an accomplishment!
OK - so yes, next came the real
drama. My friend asked me if maybe we might want to cut some of the trip off by doing a shortcut on the way down. I was all for making it a little less scary. However, it didn't really work out that way. I think we added about an hour to our trip, and a lot more scary. It was extreme exposure - extreme danger. I'd advise anyone to go back via the trail. We cut across the pumice, snow, and ash, back to the scree slope that we had made it up. This entire section was at an extreme slope - and with nothing solid beneath our feet. And no - I didn't take any photos of this. It was all I could do to stay on the slope, and not totally freak out. I took a video of a couple of kids that glissaded down the snow portion from earlier (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufq3zkbNe78
), but I had decided that I had had enough adventure for one day when we finally made it back to the trail. I don't think my heart could take it.
So then we made our way down the trail. The scree slope, the boulder field, and then the walk through the woods (and we ran part of the way down, too). Another interesting thing: there was a toilet near the top of the wooded portion - if only they had a view from the toilet, it would've been perfect.
What a fantastic day.
Gear required: trekking poles, gloves, knee-high gaiters to keep the ash out of your boots, and 4 mil plastic in case you decide to glissade down (unless you want to freeze like those guys that did it only shorts!).