An adventurous life the birthday twofer helens + hood for 34 gas oil

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She was 40 weeks + 10 days pregnant, the size of a house, and mowing the lawn on a sunny Saturday in May to encourage the baby to hurry it the hell up already. Maybe it was the smell of freshly cut grass or the heat of being crammed inside, but the baby began to make its move. The contractions started in the late afternoon. Ever the thrifty individual, the soon-to-be-mother labored at home as long as possible to avoid extra time at hospital. At 11pm she could stand it no more and they checked in. They’d have to pay for the full extra day.

That’s how, at 5:26am on May 13, 1984, I came into this world. The first born, I chose an auspicious day to mark my uterus independence: Mother’s Day. My birthday changes days of the week yet Mother’s Day does not, so when the 13th actually falls on the second Sunday of the month, I like to celebrate it extra big. The solution for this year: climb Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood back to back as an homage to my mother’s own suffering to bring me into this world. Just like her, I did it without painkillers.

En route, we stopped by the Ape Caves. They’re an easy drive from Portland and were quite crowded, but we still managed to find solitude and have a good time exploring. Quote of the day, "Kristina you’re unbelievable! The first sunny day of the year and you want to go crawl around underground in the dark!".

The wind continued to howl as we climbed the 3,000ft up the Palmer Glacier through the middle of Timberline Ski Resort. Not long after we reached the top of Palmer Lift at 9,000ft, the chair started spinning. For $60, we could have slept three more hours, ridden to the top, and been only a half-hour behind schedule. In our case, some trips are better when earned.

Temps remained lower than expected due to the constant onslaught of air in our faces. Every way we turned, the wind turned to push against us as we struggled uphill. Each of us kept our thoughts to ourselves, lest we let the others know we were ready to call it a day. Ski crampons came out about 8,000′, followed by boot crampons from 9.500′ to the summit, just over 11,000ft.

As we passed the active volcanic cone, we were overcome by the smell of rotten eggs. Fumaroles below the Hogsback spew sulfurous gas, burning your eyes and souring your mouth. We were still blissfully in the shade, but finally emerged into the sun just as Mitch took out his fancy camera.

From here, we had about a thousand feet of more difficult terrain to the summit, culminating in a crowded trip up the Pearly Gates. A beautifully aesthetic line through mounds of rhime ice, the Pearly Gates take you roughly 60-meters up through a chute.

We wore crampons and each carried and an ice axe and whippet (ski pole with a pick on the end, as seen in our photos). When we reached the chute we found a guided group coming down attached to a fixed rope. Thankfully they let us scoot past. It’s always eye-opening to see people who are new to the sport, worried about the safety and exposure, and contrast that with more experienced folks like us who scrambled up in a few minutes with skis on our backs. Before we knew it, we were on the summit. It took just over 6-hours to travel 5,250 vertical feet!

We skied down via the Old Chute (for a better look at it, check out this trip report from my first visit to Hood, the fateful day I met Theresa). This descent is common for skiers and lies down a ridgeline to the west of the true summit. Getting there is spicy, navigating the start is spicy, and getting down the first few turns is spicy. I’ve been skiing for 32 years and the boys only have a collective 10-years between them, but they navigated it like champs. In short order, we were enjoying corn.

We had brews, ate food, and drove home, blissfully avoiding the standard Seattle traffic and somehow arriving in the driveway four hours after we departed. Following The Shower Rule, we unpacked our gear and started laundry. Ater a year-long battle with the house’s outdated electrical system, Jordan installed our dryer, just in time for my birthday and the best gift of all. If that isn’t something to celebrate in your mid-30s, I don’t know what is.