Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Upcoming climbs!

2015 has been a great year for mountain lovers.  Despite the low snow levels, I and a record number of my good friends have been following our dreams to climb to the peaks that we've always longed to reach.

Within the past year, I've been blessed with opportunities to summit Mount Hood, Mount Adams, multiple times up Mount St. Helens, and other less famous peaks.  Some are outings that I've lead for NW Wilderness or other local groups.  Family schedule permitting, I'm hoping to squeeze a few more in.

Never before seen photo of Katya and I on the summit of Mount Hood!

Our final Mount Hood climb of the year has been bumped up considerably to chase after the official end of the "safe" climbing season last week.  Time slipped away from us this year.  Don't judge-- I was asked to climb, I didn't volunteer.  But how could I say no?  We promise we'll turn around and descend if we observe that the post-season rockfall or crevasses are too dangerous.

It's up to another, more experienced climbing buddy whether or not we will again pursue my ever-elusive hopes of climbing Mount Rainier (links are in blue) this summer.

But there will certainly be another Mount Adams climb or two in the mix.  If I lead a two-day climb, we would be climbing to camp at altitude before summitting the next day.  The other climb I'd like to participate in, organized by another leader, would be a single day ascent.

I hope to be climbing, rappelling, or doing whatever my favorite friend Katya is in the mood for this week... both today and on Friday.  But great friends are more important than the activities we choose.  And this weekend's insane 32-mile, 7500+ elevation gain circumnavigation of Mount St Helens will be a tough and painful but ridiculously fun scramble over some really rough terrain for us.  I've been looking forward to this one since hearing about last year's notorious expedition that ended on 2:17 a.m the next day.  I feel like I'm in great shape, although this trip will probably deal the final blow to my orthotic inserts before they need to be repaired.  Future Mount St Helens climbs are on hold until this fall season, but Garth's Blog readers can soon expect an upcoming blog post about the most recent climb I led up to the St. Helens rim.

Many more hikes and scrambles are in the works, but I only have time to lead one or two a month.  I'm also excited to lead upcoming hikes for a couple of local churches, as well as rallying some friends in Europe for a Mount Blanc summit bid.

All of these plans are subject to change.  I won't be updating this "Upcoming Climbs" post, as I often do.  Rather, I'll be sharing some of these adventures here on Garth's Blog and Twitter as they happen.  Someone like me doesn't deserve to have these opportunities, or to blessed with such amazing and supportive friends and family... but I thank God for all of this.


Family always comes first.  And our student ministry at Aloha Church of God is also the highest priority, with a special emphasis on growing our ministry and fundraising for our upcoming Mexico mission trip with Welcome Home Outreach Ministries.  Gotta have priorities!

Coming next, after our Loowit 360 marathon scramble...

A photo posted by Garth Hamilton (@garth_hamilton) on

Taking a group on our most recent hike, to Nesmith Point!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Hiking Devil's Rest loop

Yesterday's European daytrip to bicycle with overseas friends was reworked into flying down to Hollywood for lunch with one of my best buds.

I didn't lead a hike this weekend, but instead stayed mostly local for what matters most: Spending time with family, ministry grads, and the amazing friends who make life worth living.

The first of the 2015 hikes I led for NW Wilderness was short, sweet, and not too steep.  I didn’t have time that February day for the longer events that I usually lead or get involved with, so I posted an 8-mile quickie to the top of Devil’s Rest.

Here is the link to my NW Wilderness event invitation, including our post-hike comments and additional photos:

I’ll dedicate blog posts to our earlier and bigger 2015 hikes, climbs, and scrambles when I get a chance!

A photo posted by Garth Hamilton (@garth_hamilton) on

Devil’s Rest is what I referred to as the “most effortless” third of our brutal, annual Triple D challenge for NW Wilderness in August: Dog Mountain, Mount Defiance, and Devil’s Rest in one day.

Since I’ve summited Dog Mountain and Mount Defiance countless times since I was a kid, I decided to finally check out this easier segment to complete my familiarity with Triple D.  The actual date of the hike was February 27, 2015.

Wally, Shaun, Garth, Glenn, Francois, and Lou at the Wahkeena Falls trailhead

Clouds and drizzle greeted us at the Wahkeena Falls trailhead.  The weather didn’t brighten up until later on, but our ascent was anything but gloomy.

Wahkeena Falls

Francois makes the creek crossing below

Shaun and Glenn continue up

Cutoff to the Devil's Rest summit

The anticlimactic summit of Devil's Rest

Sadly, the heavy camera gear that poor Francois had schlepped from the trailhead was only brought out once.

In the summit photo above, he is snapping a single picture of... wait, what are you taking a picture of, Francois?

Returning down to the main loop, via the user-maintained Foxglove trail

Back in familiar territory

The sun almost peeked out for our descent as we returned to the Wahkeena Falls trail.  It was the icing on the cake.

Here are our stats (see notes on my event page for explanations of the discrepancies):

Distance: 8+ miles
Total ascent: 2,761 feet
Moving time: 2:14
Avg speed: 2.6 mph
Max speed 10.2 mph (Shaun and I got a little carried away on the descent)

Check back soon for a family update, travel stories, and the types of outdoor adventures that we USUALLY lead!