Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mt Adams Circumnavigation

Continuing my practice of running around volcanoes (see Mt. St. Helens here and the first half of Rainier here), last weekend we decided to attempt the circumnavigation of Mt. Adams. Although only 35 miles with about 7K of climbing, this route sounded potentially more difficult due to the lack of trail for a 5 mile section on the eastern side of the mountain. In the end, navigating through the off trail section (although slow) proved to be less challenging than the PCT section on the western side due to the heavy snow cover on the western side. If you are game for the challenge of the off trail section, I can't recommend this route enough. The scenery is amazing, with endless mountain/glacier views, green meadows, wildflowers, buffed out runnable single track, plentiful water, and it's readily doable in a day.

GPS recording of our route
Rich, Justin and I made the four hour drive to Cold Springs campground Friday night and camped at the trailhead. We started just before 6 am on a beautiful morning with a forecast for sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s. Since I was unable to find any blog posts or descriptions on the route I will provide some detail on this although if you are interested in the route I highly recommend the book Trekking in Washington, by Mike Woodmansee. You can read more about Woodmansee's route in this Seattle Times article. We began by ascending the South Climb trail for a little over a mile and then turned right onto the Round the Mountain Trail. We followed this for 2.3 miles at which point we entered the Yakama Indian Reservation and continued on the Round the Mountain trail for another 1.1 miles before turning left on the Flower trail. This trail leads up to the Viewpoint at 6500 feet at which point the trail ends.

View of the south east face of Adams from the end of the trail.
From the end of trail Viewpoint looking into Hellroaring Meadow

The ridge we came down into Hellroaring Meadow
I am not going to provide the detailed directions for navigation of the off trail section since the route was developed by Mike Woodmansee. But if anyone wants guidance while attempting the route,  I am happy to provide the GPS file. Just leave a message in the comments. The directions provided in the book, combined with careful attention to the elevation (barometer measurement from the Ambit as well as GPS measurement by Garmin) worked perfectly for us and we never had any significant issues with navigation. There is a dotted line route marked on the Green Trails map that I carried, but this route is very different (goes much higher on the mountain) than the route described in the book and I would advise against trying to follow the route marked on the map. It was fairly slow going without a trail and we averaged 50 minutes per mile through the off trail section.

Upper basin of Hellroaring Meadow
Hellroaring Meadow from the climb up to Ridge of Wonders

We descended into Hellroaring Meadow and then climbed up onto the Ridge of Wonders which led to a very steep rocky scree filled descent into the next basin. Fortunately Justin and Rich were braver than I was and led the way down this descent. I am embarrassed to admit that I basically did a crab walk/butt slide down most of this. One day I will learn how to ski on my feet down scree, but it does not come naturally. The next navigation challenge is crossing the Big Muddy Creek which is really mis-named. This is the glacial runoff from the Klickitat Glacier and it comes roaring down the basin. It took a while but we eventually found a place to jump across at around 6000 feet elevation although I have to say it was a much longer jump than I wanted to do and I was tempted to attempt wading across although this is certainly not recommended. Later in the day we ran into some backpackers who had crossed much higher on snow above the water.

Eastern side of Adams from Ridge of Wonders
Finding a place to cross Big Muddy

From there we had only to cross Avalanche Valley with 4 more streams before rejoining the trail at the camp/springs at 6700 feet just west of Goat Butte. From the camp the trail ascends to the highest point of the circumnavigation at Devil's Garden, 7700 feet. At this point we exited the reservation and started the most enjoyable running section of the day as we descended almost 2000 feet on soft trail with stunning views of Mt Adams on the left and Mt Rainier to the right. Another 2 miles and we joined the Pacific Crest Trail which we would stay on for most of the western side of the mountain.

Green meadow with spring just west of Goat Butte at 6700 feet
Enjoying some sweet single track after regaining the trail
Rich leading the way
Mt Rainier from the north side of Adams


The PCT should have been one of the most enjoyable sections of the day since when we could see the trail it was smooth and very runnable without a lot of elevation change. I haven't been unable to understand how the trail can circumnavigate the west side of the volcano without frequent elevation changes down into gullies/canyons carved by glacial runoff but for some reason the western side is relatively flat. Unfortunately for us, however, the smooth running did not last very long because most of the PCT was still buried in deep snow. In addition to slippery footing and not running very much, this became a real navigation challenge since the snow covered sections lasted much farther than you could see and unless there were footprints going the correct direction we had no idea where to go. If Rich had not had a handheld GPS with map/trail loaded onto it, I'm not sure we would have made it through all the snow.

Northwest view of Adams from the PCT




















Snow covered PCT lasted for miles along the western side

I was pretty much mentally defeated by all the snow and frustrated by not being able to run. But eventually we made it past the PCT section and once we turned onto the Round the Mountain Trail along the south side of the mountain the trail was relatively snow free and it was nice to finish off the day with 6 or 7 runnable miles. We were happy to finish without the need to use headlamps for a total time of about 14.5 hours. Even though the direct glacial runoff is too silty to purify with the steripen we were using, water sources were plentiful and I never had any issues carrying only two 16 oz water bottles.
Rich and Justing at the finish line around 8:30pm






46 comments:

  1. AWESOME!! Sorry I missed it!

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  2. Wow, I'm hooked. I would love a GPS file of the route! Thanks for the great data. Me and my mates are going to give it a go this weekend. If you have a moment, please shoot me the file at

    debhollenback at yahoo.com or at gmail.com

    Congrats on yet another circumnavigation!

    Debbie

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  3. nice write up! Something to add to my bucket list....well done :)

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    1. Would love to do it again. Let me know if you want company.

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  4. Nice write up and congrats on the run. If weather holds this month I might be down for the trot. If you wouldn't mind sharing the tracks that be more than appreciated. Cheers! topher@miraiusa.com

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  5. would love some gps coordinates thanks kris

    whatcompass@gmail.com

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  6. Wow, nice work! I'd love to get my hands on your GPS data.

    zacharyscribner@gmail.com

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  7. Outstanding work. I'm planning to hit up all the volcano circumnavigations this summer and would love the GPS file as well. It will definitely help out. Thanks!

    Richard

    m.kresser@gmail.com

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  8. Love this plan! Gonna aim for the end of August 2014. Would love the GPS file if possible.
    kflynnobrien@gmail.com

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  9. Thanks for the very helpful route description and pictures, helps clarify Mike's directions from his book. Planning to backpack the loop in late August, and hopefully there's less snow on the PCT. If you still have your GPS track for the east-side gap, that would be very helpful. darrendr at hotmail dot com. Thanks again!

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  10. I plan to run this summer. Can you share the gps file?
    JohnGaryL@hotmail.com

    Thanks.

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  11. Thank you for the post! I too am interested in the GPS file.
    moccamjl@gmail.com

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  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. Would love the GPS route. christimasi@gmail.com

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  15. I know it's been a while, but I would also appreciate the GPS file: akarchin@gmail.com
    Cheers.
    Ari

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  17. Doing this next week solo and would appreciate the GPS file....ssmith80906@gmail.com

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  18. would very much appreciate the GPS file, planning this run soon...veggiepedaler@gmail.com

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  19. If you can still provide gps info it would be much appreciated. Thanks!
    Westma1@gmail.com

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  20. If it is not too late, i would like to have the gps file as well.
    Thanks for the information about the run. merbcross@gmail.com

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  21. Great write-up, I'd love to have the GPS file too!

    Thanks, Linda
    mtn_goat_1@hotmail.com

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  22. Nice write-up. I'd love the GPS coordinates if still available! Thanks!
    coryjoneill@gmail.com

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  23. i would love the gpx too! sethsherry AT gmail.com

    Thanks!

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  24. I would ALSO love the GPS coordinates if available. Thanks a lot and nice job.

    shipleym@yahoo.com

    Mark

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  25. Would be stoked to have your GPS data. GPX file would be ideal. Daugherty.r at gmail.com

    Thanks!!!

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  26. Can I please have the GPS data?

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  27. Would it be possible to get hte GPS data? s_matula1@yahoo.com

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  28. If you still have your gps data for this I would greatly appreciate it? alint3500@gmail.com

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  29. Would be great if you could share your GPS file as my husband and I are looking to circumnavigate this month. agatzlaff[at]gmail [dot]com

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  30. I would also appreciate it if you could pass along the GPS file. :)
    jaketn5@gmail.com

    Thanks!

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  31. I would love a GPS file as well. Thank you so much for the write up!

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  32. Hello! Thank you for the write-up. I am planning to run this route next weekend and I'd love to see the GPS file. Thanks! allisonmmiles@gmail.com

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  33. Thanks for the narrative. We are planning to try this circumnavigation in next few weeks and would greatly benefit by having the GPS file. Thanks in advance.
    aaron9jenkins@gmail.com

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  34. Can I get your GPS data, if you still have it. Thanks for the motivation!!! valcore33@gmail.com

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  35. Great write up... Can you send me your gpx for this route? arboretumking@yahoo.com

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  36. Great write up... Can you send me your gpx for this route? arboretumking@yahoo.com

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  37. So happy I came across you post. I have a goal as well to circumnavigate all the major mountain of the Cascades and would really appreciate the GPS data of your route. I’ll be buying Mike Woodmansee trekking book, but the info the better. Sn0sk8@yahoo.com

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  38. Planning to hike this next weekend and would love the gps track link! ellierobbinsprice@gmail.com

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  39. I'd love the gps file, planning to give this a go next weekend.

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    1. You need to give me an email address if you want me to send you the file.

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  41. Hi there
    Thanks for the great write up.
    Can you please send me the gps file: heather_laptalo@yahoo.com
    I'm planning on going next weekend!
    Thank you

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  42. Hi! Would love the GPX file for your run. I'm interested in doing Hood and Adams in the same run, cicumnavigating both.

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