Monday, September 3, 2012

Day 135: Creek Near Road 23 to Lava Spring

Even with a late start, we still began hiking wearing our jackets and warm clothes. The sun had not yet penetrated the cool, damp forest where we had camped.

The trail climbed from our campsite (3,854 ft). As we climbed, the dense forest became more sparse, with smaller, hardier trees spaced farther apart. Fragrant, pure lupine grew in grassy meadows of volcanic soil. We caught glimpses of Mount Adams between the trees. Then, reaching a lupine filled meadow, we gazed at the full view of the majestic Mount Adams, towering overhead.

Continuing to climb, we passed through countless meadows filled with wildflowers. Fragrant purple and white lupine, pale daisies, pink and yellow monkey flowers, tall corn lilies, and many other wildflowers gave color to the meadows. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes seemed to be as plentiful as the wildflowers.

Climbing higher on the western flank of Mount Adams, we viewed Mount Rainier to the northwest. We passed through several large lava fields, with broken pieces of red and black lava rock. We also crossed several small creeks and streams, water milky white with glacial silt, the stream banks lined with dark lava rock, grass, and wildflowers.

With new, stunning views every few feet, progress was slow. Late in the afternoon the trail in once again disappeared into the forest, after having climbed to over 6,000 feet earlier in the day. We sped up, passing the familiar trees, huckleberry bushes, and fungi at a faster pace.

We continued on to the Lava Spring (4,520 ft), where a large flow of clear, cold water tumbles out from under an ancient lava flow. A pika dashed past as I bent to collect water. We heard it chirping angrily as we climbed the hill to camp.

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