Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Solstice on the Summit of Mount Adams

Last weekend some friends and I climbed to the summit of Washington's, Mount Adams (12,281') via the south climb route. I hadn't been on the mountain in close to 10-years so it was great to return. I hauled my camera up there, taking a few photos here and there; but the real focus of the trip was to take our time and enjoy ourselves. We brought in summer solstice, as well as two of our birthdays while sipping on some brews and taking in the views from our 9000' basecamp. I wish I had a few more photos to share, especially of our camp and the brilliant stars that night, but sometimes enjoying the moment without any distractions is more important. 

With packs fully loaded, it was tough going early on.  Our approach the first day was off the main route, up a ridge to the east. We found untracked snow here as well as much more interesting terrain.

False summit at 11,500' with Mount St. Helens in the background
With 3 out of the 5 in our group summiting for the first time, there were lots of fist bumps and high fives. 
Pushing it to the false summit

Another angle from the false summit with Mount Hood in the distance
We weren't the only ones with the idea of summiting on summer solstice. Well over 100 summited that day. It was the busiest I'd ever seen it.  

Circumhorizontal Arc and Sunbow
We had some interesting skies both days. A large sunbow (top part of the photo) glowed ominously overhead throughout the trip. On the second day a horizontal looking rainbow appeared below the sunbow. The only other time I'd seen this was 15 years ago while hiking arount Mount Hood. I did a little research when I got home and found that this optical phenomenon was the bottom part of a huge ice halo, formed by hexagonal, plate shaped ice crystals in high level cirrus clouds. The halo is so large that the lower portion of the arc appears level with the horizon. The entire halo wasn't visible, only the lower portion.
Circumhorizontal Arc
A telephoto version. The colors were different than those seen in a rainbow. The green spectrum was very vibrant. In both photos, I took some artistic liberties and significantly adjusted the lights and darks, thereby giving the the colors the pop they needed to stand out against the bright afternoon sky.
Good times on the summit!
Final Frame
On our way back down we passed though an area of forest burned during the 2012 Cascade Creek Fire. I was drawn to the curled up bark peeling off the tree and the way the orange/red colors complemented the distant Beargrass.

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