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watermelon, wine, wy'east swine spine

Posted: August 31st, 2019, 7:04 pm
by Chip Down
It's a venerable tradition, a pilgrimage, maybe even a rite of passage: On sunny warm days between Memorial and Labor, you'll see stalwart hikers carrying a watermelon and a bottle of wine up to Mt Hood's crater. I ran a little late this year; every weekend there was something better to do, but today I knew I'd better get it done. Yeah, you can buy a watermelon in September, but it just doesn't feel right. Yesterday, in preparation for this hike, I almost picked up one of those cute little personal watermelons and a 375ml bottle. But no, I decided to go whole hog, with a big ol' Hermiston and a 1500ml jug of wine.

At Timberline Lodge I hoisted my 40 lb pack and headed up the trail. I was amazed it was that heavy. Watermelon 13 lbs, wine 5 lbs, milk and yogurt 2.5 lbs, water 3.5 lbs, ice axe, crampons, helmet, a big heavy pack to carry all that. I've been traveling extra light the last few weeks, and my torso isn't used to bearing weight.

It was an extra dark night. No moon, no groomers. I wasn't sure where I was, but it didn't matter. Just go up.

I put on crampons much earlier than usual. I was getting tired of struggling to avoid icy patches. Once they were on (around the bottom of Palmer) I started moving fast. Well, faster anyway.

Above Palmer it was a dry crumbly mess. I figured I should veer over to White River. That worked out great, as I was able to ascend a combo of snow and trail. Passed an out-of-state visitor. I didn't think I'd be passing anybody.

As I approached Devil's Kitchen, I met a pair descending. Their first time on the summit. I found it encouraging that they succeeded, and considered going to the top myself. I had been hoping to get at least as far as the west rim. I didn't ask for beta, figured I'd wing it.

At Devil's Kitchen I was dismayed at how heavily crevassed Coleman Glacier is. I had no idea. I look back on all the times I walked around up there, and wonder how safe it was. Even the standard route seems sketchy now that I know there are days when snowbridges are about to melt out. People talk about the rockfall danger this time of year, but that's only half the problem. Anyway, from Devils Kitchen I didn't see an obvious route to the Hogsback. I tried skirting around the glacier, where it meets Crater Rock. I managed to get to the point where I was in line with the Hogsback, but no apparent way to safely drop to the snow (moat and delicate bridges). I could see it would be very straightforward to walk to the east side of Devils Kitchen and ascend a virtually crevasse-free section of the glacier, but rockfall risk was high. I gave up and turned back. Along the way, I looked for a boot-track that I might have missed on the ascent, but no luck.

I've had a string of failures lately. Not as discouraged as you might think. Today's trip was more interesting than expected. I was just repeating a previous hike today, so success wasn't a big deal. Next year I'll go earlier. I really want to get to the west crater rim again, mostly for nostalgia.

Re: watermelon, wine, wy'east swine spine

Posted: August 31st, 2019, 8:33 pm
by mjirving
Nice. I should have joined you to help with the watermelon...the eating part. I could also compare the swimming between Mooney and Coalman Tarn. Is it just as smelly with the fumeroles this time of year?

Re: watermelon, wine, wy'east swine spine

Posted: August 31st, 2019, 9:19 pm
by Chip Down
mjirving wrote:
August 31st, 2019, 8:33 pm
Nice. I should have joined you to help with the watermelon...the eating part.
Your generosity knows no bounds! :lol: I actually did have a little help with the eating. Coming down the mountain behind me, a woman exclaimed to her companion "is that...is that a watermelon?! :shock: "
mjirving wrote:
August 31st, 2019, 8:33 pm
I could also compare the swimming between Mooney and Coalman Tarn.
Coleman/Coalman is 32F, with a bit of current, submerged ice, floating ice...if you want to go for a swim in that, have a rope tied to your ankle, and a partner prepared to pull you out.
mjirving wrote:
August 31st, 2019, 8:33 pm
Is it just as smelly with the fumeroles this time of year?
Yep. I wanted to take an extended break there before starting down, but it wouldn't be pleasant.

Say, remember that ramp across White River that I thought you might want to consider? Horrible this time of year. I suppose it could be done, but looking at it today I cringed at the thought of taking that route over to Super Bowl.

Re: watermelon, wine, wy'east swine spine

Posted: September 1st, 2019, 3:08 am
by mjirving
So what’s up with the Coleman/Coalman spelling? Sounds like another lesson I need to learn?

Re: watermelon, wine, wy'east swine spine

Posted: September 1st, 2019, 7:53 am
by markesc
Yeah it seems like the S. Route danger factor increases every year earlier and earlier.

Your thoughts on a trip to that Illumination Saddle this time of year? or better to wait til Spring?

Re: watermelon, wine, wy'east swine spine

Posted: September 1st, 2019, 7:54 am
by markesc
LOVE that glacier/water/lake photo! That's book worthy!! :mrgreen:

Re: watermelon, wine, wy'east swine spine

Posted: September 1st, 2019, 10:36 am
by Chip Down
markesc wrote:
September 1st, 2019, 7:53 am
Your thoughts on a trip to that Illumination Saddle this time of year? or better to wait til Spring?
Tremendous amount of rockfall in that area. And it's just ugly now. Also, with the saddle being snow-free, it's a hassle just to get up and peek over to Reid.
markesc wrote:
September 1st, 2019, 7:54 am
LOVE that glacier/water/lake photo! That's book worthy!! :mrgreen:
Yeah, that was a pretty amazing spot. Surface runoff on glaciers is uncommon enough, but to see it splashing into a pool is something I've never seen. Sadly, there's always a lot of garbage around there, but at least this time the water was free of climbers' detritus.