Lemonade out of lemons… or because my brain is wonky, lemons out of lemonade as I kept saying. With weather that had moved in, the Mount Saint Helens climb was called off (I mean, it dropped like 38″ of snow… we weren’t being wimpy, we were being smart!). Eric and Jen debated which mountain we could still climb with the crappy forecast that encompasses everything from the North Cascades to the southern volcanoes, and finally settled on Mount Rose in the Olympic National Forest. It wouldn’t give me the chance to use my “stabby devices” (ice axe and crampons), but it would be a summit. And outdoors. Okay, fine, let’s drink the lemonade!
Summiting Mount Rose, which tops out at 4,301 feet, it no easy task. It may not be as high as my typical summits, but steep is steep, no matter the altitude! The hike begins from the Mount Rose Trailhead near Lake Cushman, and gains over 3500 feet of elevation, with the hardest part coming between mile 2 and 3 (if you ask me). The trail is nicely maintained, and can be done as a lollipop. (We opted for an out and back so we wouldn’t get surprised by trail conditions on the part we had not seen.) It does enter Mt. Skokomish Wilderness as well.
It was moist, sticky, and uncomfortably warm to me as we set out, and quickly we began climbing the switchbacks. Jen is super speedy, so she was quickly out of sight, minus a few glimpses of her white pack high up above me, and Eric and I settled into our own paces.
Soon enough I had stripped down to my sports bra, trying to cool myself down in the humidity. I chuckled to myself as I realized my heart rate was 160bpm, but I was otherwise not breathing hard and could speak full sentences. Damn, I love this oxygen stuff!!!
At the start of the lollipop of the summit trail (Horse Camp) I took the chance to eat a good snack and wait for Eric so we could ensure we both headed in the same direction. I ended up throwing a layer on, as by now I was above 3000 and it was chillier. Once Eric caught me, we continued on, and the trail slowly turned from dry to mud to constant snowfields.
The snow was still decently solid so I took to kick stepping and did not have to put on my microspikes. After spending the entire hike sweating it up in my mountaineering boots, I was happy to finally run into some snow! The trail seemingly was not as steep as the previous miles. It even snowed ever so gently. I started feeling a tinge of a headache, leading me to wonder if literally all my altitude acclimation disappeared in a matter of a week (I think I probably just needed to hydrate better after sweating every electrolyte out of my body on the hike up).
I finally popped out near the summit, spotting Jen chilling on a rock as I struggled to get up the steepest part as I kept postholing to my waist. Woohoo, summit of Mount Rose obtained!
As Jen and I finished up playing on the true summit, we joined Eric in preparing the summit meal. This was meant for Mount Saint Helens, but alas, lemonade! We’d have a hot pot, complete with all the fresh veggies and tasty, salty broth! Jen tossed our summit champagne in a snowbank to chill.
Of course, getting to the summit is only half the story, so alas, time to trudge back down to the truck. I felt like the snow had managed to soften a ton, and Eric and I took turns falling and postholing as we made our way down. Once we were back on dry trail I took to cursing my boots, as my feet ached.
“Can we get ice cream?” Oh the things to motivate myself off of mountains!
After a little over six hours total and a bazillion switchbacks later, we were back at the truck! Immediately it was time for my Crocs and we headed towards the nearest Daily Queen in Shelton for a basket of fries and Blizzards.
I won’t lie, this hike kicked my ass. I think I might have possibility made the mistake of pushing too fast too hard since there was so much oxygen and I felt supercharged and didn’t have the normal cues my body gives me when hiking at my normal 10,000-14,000 foot elevations. Also, my mountaineering boots and I were definitely in a love-hate relationship at this point, and my feet were beat up and blistered (moleskin is useless in sweaty boots rated for -20C temperatures). Andddd we did a seven mile walk on the beach the evening before. But nonetheless, I made it to the top of a mountain in Washington, even if it wasn’t volcanic or the one I came for!
Date Hiked: May 7, 2022
Trailhead: Mount Rose Trailhead
Total Mileage: 7.76 miles per Strava/Garmin Vivoactive 4s
Total Elevation Gain: 3,548 feet
Total Time Spent: 6 hours 16 minutes
Weather: Moist, ha!
Trail Conditions: Dry, mud, snowpacked depending on elevation
Cell Service: Airplane mode, baby!