Adams - north side hike 10/12-14/2018

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romann
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Adams - north side hike 10/12-14/2018

Post by romann » November 4th, 2018, 10:16 pm

Three weeks ago I had time for a 2-night backpack, and decided to see snow-covered Mt Adams at its best. Everything worked out great, even though nights were colder than I anticipated from the forecast. Snowline was at about 8000', and down to 6500-7000' on glaciers - just an inch or two of new snow, but it made the mountain look fresh and wintry.

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I set up camp at Killen Lake late Friday night. Temps went down to mid-20's or so - my water froze in the tent, and tent got all covered with sparkling frost on the inside (this was quite nice with a flashlight!). I got just a bit cold, shared warm clothes with my dog Ferney and he was a happy camper (got to appreciate his enthusiasm going with me on the hikes - he used to be afraid of wilderness but now he really enjoys it). I slept late as it got warm in the morning, and then we headed to High Camp and continued on rough climbers' trail to Glacier Lake at 7500'.

Killen Lake's shore was covered in frost in the morning
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Cascades on Killen Creek, just below the PCT
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St. Helens from High Camp. High plateau was popular with backpackers this weekend
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While I was at High Camp, Adams started to catch clouds, and I thought I won't see the mountain much longer
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Going on snowfields to Glacier Lake. Easy terrain, much better than seems from the pictures. Snowfields were barely covered with fresh powder, so it wasn't icy. Interestingly, this was the only place I felt almost hot on this hike - with sun reflecting off snow
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It was my first time at the lake. The pool is tad silty for drinking, and its shores were covered in slick mud - my boots became 3 pounds heavier. But the setting is spectacular, and I was glad it still held a lot of water so late in the season, with decreased runoff from melting glacier
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The edge of Glacier
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Okay, let's walk past that rock band, onto the next ice field
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Rainier and Goat Rocks with Glacier Lake
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What I didn't realize about the small rocky "moraine", it was not separating two glaciers - those rocks were sitting on the glacier, covering a small crevasse
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Up on the bulk of Adams Glacier, now it was nothing between me and the foot of the mountain. This ice field is immense! What also surprised me, it was flat as a table (gently sloping at 10-15 degrees), no melt cups, no crevasses. Wish I had more time to hike around, really nice place
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Went to about 7800' to see above the moraines
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Looks like another melt pool on far side of the glacier, near the rocks? Only noticed it on photos at home - another thing to check out on a future hike
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Cascading ice + summit (no zoom - maybe just a bit)
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When I went down past the lake, a group of climbers were setting their tents for the preparation of North Face climb. It would be cool to read how it went, looks like epic climb by any measure.

Back at High Camp
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On the second night, I decided to move my tent under the trees, to reduce heat loss. The night started quiet - but then powerful gusts came after 11pm (I was on a small ridge by the lake) and by 1am constant wind was battering my tent. I was thinking about the climbers, how did they do in their camp far above the timberline? At around 2am I finally decided to relocate my tent back down in the gully, and got some sleep. It was a bit warmer than previous night, and night sky was amazing.
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Sunday morning I woke late again, to another gorgeous day on the mountain. This time I decided to stay local and explore Killen Creek Meadows, before heading back.

Iced Killen Creek
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Next lake downhill is probably the largest in the group of 3 right after snowmelt, but now it was almost dry.
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Lower lake was quite pleasant. Saw a large coyote not far from here, he ran away before I pulled out camera
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This long/narrow meadow was perfectly aligned to have a view of both Adams and Rainier.
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I could tell there was a lot of huckleberry brush, and some fall foliage was still around. Note to self: have to go back in September
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Another small cascade just below Killen Lake. I didn't want to go back to PCT, so located long-abandoned trail for my return
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Stopped at Takhlakh Lake for the sunset on the drive home
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Chip Down
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Re: Adams - north side hike 10/12-14/2018

Post by Chip Down » November 5th, 2018, 5:33 am

Wow, the water level in that high tarn is really low. I didn't realize it shrank down that much. Seems like I was there in an October once.

Fooled by the glacial mantle! Yep, that'll happen.

The big flat icefield you described can probably be considered a piedmont glacier, a feature where a glacier leaves the confines of a narrow constriction and spreads out into a large open space. While it's not as striking here as what you'll see when you do an image search for piedmont glacier, it's the only decent example I've encountered from Shasta to Rainier, inclusive.

It's not the cold nights that bother me as much as the long nights. Alpine camping this time of year is miserable! I can't imagine moving camp in the middle of the night, as you did. I'd just wait it out, no matter how bad.

There's a snowfield in one of your pics that I've been monitoring, wondering if it will survive our current era of de-icing. Still there! (smooth on the surface, so not just a little fresh snow over rock) :geek:

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retired jerry
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Re: Adams - north side hike 10/12-14/2018

Post by retired jerry » November 5th, 2018, 6:01 am

nice report, great time to go up there - the next week the weather's supposed to be pretty good and still not much snow up there for anyone else thinking about going up there

I bet there are now zero bugs - hard freezes at night

Sticks on the tent? Did that help withstand the wind?

I don't mind the long nights. I'll usually build a fire which is good for a few hours. Sleep a bit longer than 8 hours. Maybe read for a while.

bghiker
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Re: Adams - north side hike 10/12-14/2018

Post by bghiker » November 5th, 2018, 8:36 am

Other than saying that I am at a loss for words....I am at a loss for words.....

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romann
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Re: Adams - north side hike 10/12-14/2018

Post by romann » November 6th, 2018, 1:14 am

Chip Down wrote:
November 5th, 2018, 5:33 am
The big flat icefield you described can probably be considered a piedmont glacier, a feature where a glacier leaves the confines of a narrow constriction and spreads out into a large open space. While it's not as striking here as what you'll see when you do an image search for piedmont glacier, it's the only decent example I've encountered from Shasta to Rainier, inclusive.

It's not the cold nights that bother me as much as the long nights. Alpine camping this time of year is miserable! I can't imagine moving camp in the middle of the night, as you did. I'd just wait it out, no matter how bad.
Googled it - that definitely looks like a small version of piedmont glacier, very different from other glaciers I've seen (just a few, actually) and seemed more like a giant snowfield. Looking at upper glacier, it almost feels strange it could fill such a wide valley below, but then it was my perspective, it's not as narrow as seems from Glacier Lake and most likely a fast-moving one.

Yes long nights mean spending a lot of time at camp; I've almost fallen out of habit for having a fire, but this would be perfect time and place for it. And there's always a cell phone with some games or good reads. I hike a lot by flashlight or by moon; on next late-season trip I may plan to camp during full moon, somewhere near the snow/glaciers - one time I did it was bright enough to read a book.

(near Pinnacle Glacier, 2014)
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retired jerry wrote:
November 5th, 2018, 6:01 am
nice report, great time to go up there - the next week the weather's supposed to be pretty good and still not much snow up there for anyone else thinking about going up there

I bet there are now zero bugs - hard freezes at night

Sticks on the tent? Did that help withstand the wind?
Thanks, Jerry! And yes, no bugs at all. I had better luck with mosquitoes camping in Indian Heaven in early/mid summer, than camping on N side of Mt Adams ;) . Fall is the best time to be there.

The sticks do indeed help me sleep on windy nights (I think about tying them together next time, like a tepee), and sometimes I put rocks inside as well, if I leave my tent in a windy spot.
bghiker wrote:
November 5th, 2018, 8:36 am
Other than saying that I am at a loss for words....I am at a loss for words.....
Thanks bghiker!

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