July 10, 2009

A Shell of Its Former Self

Posted in hiking, pacific northwest, volcanoes at 1:47 pm by berzerkeleyan

A Shell of Its Former Self, originally uploaded by Out and Aboot the World.

I’ve wanted to visit Mount St. Helens ever since it exploded when I was twelve years old. This is the view from the Johnston Observatory. The park folks have done a very nice job describing the event and its aftermath. If you want to compare my photo with this volcano’s former self, go here. It was remarkable seeing firsthand the scale and totality of destruction caused by the eruption.

And so began my first hike around Mount St. Helens. It was memorable for the wrong reason.

April 26, 2009

On the way to Dog Mountain this weekend…

Posted in hiking, pacific northwest at 10:12 pm by berzerkeleyan

It was quite cold at the top -- 30 degrees Fahrenheit with 50 mph wind gusts.

It was quite cold at the top of Dog Mountain -- 30 degrees Fahrenheit with 50 mph wind gusts.

…I heard this.

I couldn’t see it, but it obviously could see me.  At the time, I didn’t know what it was.  My first thought was “Fuck, mountain lion.”  Anyone who talks with me about hiking knows my fear of running into one.  I’m not the biggest guy around; a full grown male could very easily take me out (they can kill one ton elk fer christsakes!).  So the sound I heard was not very comforting.  I did think I had the upper hand, since whatever it was announced its presence rather than surprise me with an ambush.  However, I didn’t want to test my hypothesis.  I very calmly walked away, knife in hand, never turning my back until I was a few hundred yards away.  Despite my natural desire for solitude, I was very happy when I ran into other hikers that day.

It was only when I got home and did a little research that I realized what I heard wasn’t a mountain lion.  It was one of these, which don’t pose any threat to humans.  I really wish I had seen it.  They are a rare sight.

You know, I really have to rethink this whole “hiking by myself” thing…