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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

MT. ADAMS / Iceberg Lake

Hellroaring Canyon Overlook

From 09-03-07 to 09-23-07

This time, determined to reach Iceberg Lake, I opted to take the Climber’s trail (number 20, I think) which follows the edge of the cliff overlooking Hellroaring Canyon. Above the viewpoint area, the grass told a very succinct story about dehydration.

Even though I had a clearer idea of where I needed to go to reach the lake based on my scouting activities weeks earlier, I still found it difficult to follow the ‘trail’ when it veered off into the rocks. More than once, I found myself completely trail-less and in those instances, I used a simple strategy that I call, ‘go up’.

Sometimes I would run across what appeared to be artificially stacked rocks – cairns – that I assumed were constructed to mark ‘the way’ for hikers and climbers. But it takes a little bit of faith to follow them (they could just as well be the work of a retarded Andy Goldsworthy wanna-be), and now, sitting at home with access to a dictionary, I find that they can also be memorials to people who died there.

While I was scrambling among the rocks, I heard the unsettling sound of rocks falling. High on the mountain, in an unstable conglomeration of ice and rock, some significant boulder, aided by the late September sun, escaped the grasp of a glacier and made off for kinder territory. At least that’s what I first surmised. But I had an uneasy feeling…

…and out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw something move. My arch nemesis – the renegade cow? (I simply couldn’t accept it as being possible.)

Eventually I crested a ridge of rocks that formed a broad cup for collecting what I believe is Iceberg Lake.

I based this conclusion on the connection I drew between the name “Iceberg Lake” and the presence of icebergs floating on a lake.

I sat quietly at the edge of the lake for some time and simply listened to it singing and groaning in concert with the wind. It isn’t the happiest song I’ve ever heard and it isn’t performed in the kindest environment, but for those of you who need to write a eulogy and provided the sky is clear and the sun is present to warm your face and hands, this setting comes highly recommended.

I walked around the lake as far as I could, being careful to stay away from the steep areas that promised imminent collapse. I stepped over a little feeder tributary…

…and stirred up sediments that diffused into the otherwise milky water.

It was clear to me that at other times in the season, the lake covers considerably more territory. The dry portions had a strong resemblance to pictures I’ve seen of Mars, were it not for the blue skies.

I found a better trail to follow on the way down…

…but managed to lose it too.

This stream simply springs out of the ground. I think part of the problem I have following trails on Mt. Adams is that when streams like this dry out, they look a lot like paths. At this point, I realize I am veering too far to the South so I take steps to regain visual contact with Hellroaring canyon.

How many narratives can you come up with to explain this circle?

I made it off the trail before dark again.

Because I was early, the outlaw gang of cows was foiled in its attempt to ambush me.

“We weren’t expecting you till after dark,” their white faced boss muttered.

The element of surprise having been lost, they sheepishly disappeared into the woods.

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