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Mt. Adams High Camp, Sept. 10-12, 2021

Posted: September 13th, 2021, 7:42 pm
by trailmasterp
A friend and I spent Friday and Saturday nights at High Camp on the northwest side of Mt. Adams. We left Portland around 2:00 p.m. and arrived at the Killen Creek Trailhead around 5:00 p.m. on Friday to find only two other cars. I had read some reports about the road being bad, but the gravel sections coming in from Trout Lake were generally fine; there are certainly some potholes and rough spots, but they are easily navigated if taking it slow.

The trail, which was in fine shape without any blowdown, gains about 2,200 feet over approximately 4.1 miles. The one creek that we crossed - the easiest of rock hops - was still flowing.

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Although the first three miles or so climb steadily upward, a disproportionate amount of the elevation gain comes in the last mile after the intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail. And it is steep.

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We had High Camp all to ourselves when we arrived around 7:00 p.m. With the daylight fading and clouds rolling in, our first order of business was to locate a water source. Finding water turned out to be a bit more challenging than when I last visited in August 2014; perhaps unsurprisingly in this remarkably dry year, all of the creek beds running through High Camp were completely dry. After some brief wandering, we located a good source of clean, silt-free water coming off a snowfield just east and slightly up the mountain from High Camp. The first night was quite cold, particularly because there was a light mist through which we caught fleeting glimpses of the hulking Adams Glacier shortly before sunset.

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We awoke Saturday morning to clear skies and gorgeous views of Mts. Adams, Rainier, and St. Helens, as well as the Goat Rocks. There was wildfire smoke in the distance to the northeast, but it didn't impact any of the views. We first hiked up to the glacial lake above High Camp.

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We then spent the rest of the morning doing some off-trail rambling clockwise around the mountain, turning around at a point below the Lava Glacier.

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Along the way we saw a group of three mountain goats and a crevasse in a snowfield, which was deeper than it initially appeared.

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After returning to camp in the early afternoon, we went the other direction and explored the meadows to the southwest of High Camp, ending on a moraine overlooking raging Adams Creek. We saw three impressive waterfalls in the distance just beneath the glacier, but opted to save that exploration for another trip.

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Finally, shortly before dinner we hiked up the moraine directly above High Camp and immediately beneath the Adams Glacier; it was a bit of a slog, but the close-up view of the glacier from the top made us forget our sore legs and sand-filled boots.

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Back at camp, we noticed that 4-5 other groups had set up tents while we had been gone for the day, but everyone was able to spread out and it never felt crowded. As the mountain glowed in the setting sun, a herd of goats wandered in for dinner.

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We awoke to cloud cover and the smell of potential rain Sunday morning, so we packed up early and headed out, admiring the fall colors in the meadows along the way back to the trailhead.

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Re: Mt. Adams High Camp, Sept. 10-12, 2021

Posted: September 13th, 2021, 9:40 pm
by Chip Down
Oh no! My favorite Adams snowfield is no more than a dirty little patch. I wondered if this might happen in my lifetime, but I wasn't prepared for it so soon.

I can't find a good pic that's public domain. The summer pic below is from wikipedia. The brrrr pic is mine.

Re: Mt. Adams High Camp, Sept. 10-12, 2021

Posted: September 14th, 2021, 5:27 am
by Don Nelsen
What a nice surprise to see your TR this morning! I'm meeting Peder in a few minutes and heading up to High Camp and on to Glacier Lake for some exploring. I've not been above High Camp before so nice to see your pics of the terrain. Thanks for the TR.

dn

Re: Mt. Adams High Camp, Sept. 10-12, 2021

Posted: September 14th, 2021, 5:40 am
by drm
Remember that the glacial lake is basecamp for the North Cleaver climbing route. It looks pretty daunting but actually was described to me as a class 2 hike - as long as you stay on route. It's a rock route once the snow melts, as it has this year, until you get all the way up to the ice cap, I think. I got a good view of it in profile from a camp farther east recently and am interested, but wouldn't try it on my own.

Re: Mt. Adams High Camp, Sept. 10-12, 2021

Posted: September 14th, 2021, 6:23 am
by retired jerry
I wonder if you could have kept going clockwise over to devil's garden and down to foggy flat

Re: Mt. Adams High Camp, Sept. 10-12, 2021

Posted: September 14th, 2021, 7:32 am
by trailmasterp
We considered continuing in the direction of Devil's Garden, but it was relatively slow going and we wanted to check out the area on the other side of High Camp. I didn't see anything between our turnaround point and Red Butte (which was our point of reference and is more or less below Devil's Garden) that looked impassable, but it's so hard to tell. At several points during the day, we would be walking along what appeared to be a straightforward route and would suddenly come to a very steep, unstable slope. The map also shows a few creeks coming off the Lave and Lyman Glaciers, which could be daunting if they're flowing like Adams Creek was on Saturday afternoon.

Re: Mt. Adams High Camp, Sept. 10-12, 2021

Posted: September 14th, 2021, 9:51 am
by retired jerry
crossing those two creeks while on the round-the-mountain trail is difficult

not too difficult if you get your boots wet