MOUNT SAINT HELENS

Read more to see the rest of my adventure on Mount Saint Helens.

As a photographer, I’m always scoping out for new adventures and places to shoot. I’ll scour the internet to see what locations look like a good mix of feasible adventure that will offer great scenes. Mount St. Helens is definitely one of them. In fact, most of the western portion of the United States is indescribable in the sense that it’s just huge and no photo will ever capture how massive this landscape is. In May 2012, I set out on a road trip that covered a good portion of the western states. One of the first stops being Mount St. Helens in Washington state.

My friend and I arrived near the base of the mountain at a small town where you purchase the permit to climb the still active volcano. Yes, that’s right, Mount St. Helens is a highly active volcano. Fearless and full of stupid ambition we purchased our permit, took our snowshoes and headed up the mountain. By the time we got to the trail head, the weather had shifted and it began to snow. The snow was the ultra heavy, wet type that soaked everything upon impact. No matter, we headed up the trail a few hundred meters and set up our tent on some uneven snow in the middle of the night and slept and restless sleep.

The next morning we woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed. Fresh, albeit wet snow, covered the ground and we began our 12-14 hour hike up the mountain. It was a grueling hike mostly because our snow gear added a few extra pounds and since the snow was of the wet variety, it made our gear wet, thus adding even more weight. We had no idea where the trail was once we got above the tree line. Clouds were rolling in and out of the sun light. I’d say 80% of the hike felt like I was in black and white. Not a lot of color to shoot hence the black and white treatment of the photos. Blisters on our heels had begun and I’d say I’m extremely fit but hiking this was no easy feat considering the conditions.

We made it around 6,500 feet up the mountain and the weather had taken a turn for the worst. I don’t think we ever saw the top of Mount St. Helen. We were basically hiking from one rock patch to another inching our way towards the top praying we wouldn’t fall off some cornice. The weather got to the point where we could barely see 15 feet in front of us. We tried to wait out the weather to see if it would clear but it never did. Unfortunately we had to descend down the mountain.

It was an amazing nine hour hike. We had the entire mountain to ourselves and it was absolutely beautiful. I don’t view it as the mountain defeated us but rather, we experienced it that particular day. To have had the opportunity to hike something so massive and active in unfavorable conditions made it all the more memorable. I mean, we were stuck half way up an active volcano, alone in a blizzard with painful blisters forming on our feet. If it was easy, this story would not be nearly as fun to write.

Enjoy the photos. Stay tuned for more photos from places like Yellowstone, Monument Valley and the slot canyons of Escalante. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from John Wooden. Sometimes… you really need to use your imagination to make the best out of the way things turn out.

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”