Climbing Mount St. Helens
(October 17, 2015)

The first two miles only gained about 900 ft and were in forest. There were some nice fall colors in this portion of the hike.

This is when we left the tree line, which marks the beginning of the steep ascent (~3700 ft in approx. 3 miles) up the mountain face.

Zooming in on the scene from the previous photo to show hikers on the trail.

Looking back at Monitor Route (the name of the trail we took to the summit).

Zooming in to show hikers for scale.

Looking back at our route so far while taking a quick break.

Zooming in to show hikers (at the bottom middle) for scale.

This glimpse of Mount Adams was the only view we got that cloudy, drizzly day.

Looking back at Monitor Ridge (you can just make out some hikers).

Glacier! For scale, the crevasse you see is well over 10 ft tall.

Looking at the bottom half of the glacier.

At the summit! Unfortunately, the summit was in clouds so we couldn't see more than a few dozen yards ahead. This is the rim of the volcano's crater, and we couldn't see into the crater at all due to the thick clouds.

Facing the crater

Looking back up at the summit. This was the hardest part of the climb (the ground is soft ash and dirt, and it was like walking on beach sand--except with a steep grade!). We descended in about a fifth of the time (if not less) it took to ascend.

Zooming in to show hikers making the tough, slow slog up to the summit.

I have a couple shots just to show the surface of the volcano. Pretty cool.

Taking our first break on the way down from the summit. The summit is visible in the picture, but it is quite far away.

Looking at where the lava flow from the 1980 eruption meets the current tree line.

This photo was taken around 1:30 PM, but it felt like sunset.

Navigating our way back down the boulders. (This was a rare spot where going up was easier than coming down.)

The route is those boulders. Climb on up!

A rare bit of color on the otherwise gray mountain.

The tree line is in sight again! My muscles were screaming by this point. Those last two miles were tough, but only because of fatigue.

Humorously, my FitBit's badge for achieving 500 floors--which I earned that day--is called a Volcano badge. How appropriate! Even better, the picture is of an erupting volcano. Quite fitting for Mount St. Helens.

The dark spot in the clouds is the summit of Mount St. Helens, as seen on our flight out of Portland.

Mount Adams (near) and Mount Rainier (far).

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