To become a member of the Mazamas, you have to summit a glaciated peak. I really wanted to become a member so I could get a discount on the tuition for the trad climbing class I took with them, but I’m no mountaineer. I’ve never even worn crampons. I’m a straight-up rock-jock, or I would be if I were any good at it. Anyway, I needed to haul my corpus up to the top of some mountain someplace, so I asked my friend and fellow crag rat Matt for advice.
He suggested I summit Old Snowy, likely the easiest glaciated peak in the area. No technical expertise required, it’s a simple hike to the summit. We had been trying to get together a plan for a backpacking trip with Dan and Amy, so we decided to kill two birds with one stone by hiking into the meadows below the summit over the Fourth of July weekend. We’d establish a camp there and hang out for a few days, zipping up to the summit and some other nearby lakes and so on. A relaxing summer weekend in the great outdoors!
We piled into Dan and Amy’s car with all our gear early Saturday morning and got headed up towards the Goat Rocks Wilderness in Washington. On the way we decided to swing by Voodoo Donuts and grab something delicious, since we were basically going to be eating gerbil food all weekend. Matt was blown away by the fact that he could buy two (2) five-gallon buckets of day old donuts for $5, so naturally we did that. We completed the rest of the four hour drive with easily a hundred donuts in the back of the car, and Matt did his level best to make a dent in that number. I think he ate nine or so before we even hit the trailhead.
Matt had made this trek a few years prior in April with his wife Joanne, and they’d had to deal with a little snow on the trail in a few places, but nothing major. Collectively, we were completely sure that in July, two months later, we would be greeted by meadows filled with alpine flowers and frolicking mountain goats.
So naturally we didn’t call the forest service to ask about conditions and wound up post-holing through two to three foot deep snow all the way up to our proposed campsite. Despite the snow it was a very warm and pleasant day, with water coursing through channels in the snow all around us, so we kept going, optimistic that we could find some clear ground to camp on. Continue reading