Mt St Helens – The 41 Experience

Anthony’s Mountain Experience

Running Mt St Helens – Monitor Ridge

From the perspective of celebrity trainer Anthony McClanahan, brought to you by 41 Sports.

 

Background

I have an extensive training background.  I played professional football for a long time, and for years I have been the owner of 41 Sports, a fitness training company. I train for three to five hours per day, with two rest days a week, and even as a grandpa, I am in amazing shape.  I treat my body well, and fuel it properly, so keep these things in mind when you read about my experience on the mountain, because it is likely not like many! But if you are in 41 Sports shape, and you would like to experience something similar, maybe you will go with me next time.

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Trailhead

With an incredible amount of energy, and a couple of hikers taking my lead to join me in getting an experience of a lifetime, I took off up the trail through the thick forest.  Eager to see what was next, we all flew through the trees.  Switchbacks for nearly 800 yards brought us to new growth, and I felt driven to continue.

As we tore through the new growth, I looked up and could see the side of the mountain above the trees. It is volcanic ash and rocks, straight up.

 

Weather Station

At about 1000 feet elevation, we reached a weather station. It came up suddenly since we were running.   Surrounding the weather station, there was level ground, snow, ice, and rocks. We took a break for a while to refuel. I didn’t feel like I needed much of a break, but it was good for the hikers who were with me. I was a little numb, no sickness, but at this point people often have nausea. We had some water and a little food, and took in the view of Mt Adams and Mt Hood before we took off again.

The view was intense. We were up past the clouds. My guess, by about thirty stories. You could see them settling on the trees below.  A couple hours later we began to catch up to and pass people who left early that morning.

On the way up, the hikers began to run out of water. I was carrying my pack and another hiker’s pack, so once in a while we would stop for a couple minutes, and I would share my extra water with the hikers.

 

Boulders

Hiking and climbing on the rocks and the boulders was extreme. There were huge boulders; one that I saw was the size of my Hummer. It balanced on a ridge of smaller boulders and rocks, waiting to fall at too strong a breeze. My body felt energized. I felt like there was a plethora of oxygen. Breathing came supernaturally.  Many at 6,000 feet feel the air being sucked out of their lungs, but I felt as if it was being pushed into mine.  It was as if my whole life I had been a fish managing to breathe on land, but someone finally put me in a lake, and I could really breathe.  It was bizarre yet wonderful.

Every time I looked up there was a boulder. It felt like it would never end.

 

Volcanic Ash

Scoria, or lava rock, is sharp, and it grinds into a fine ash. This is mixed with volcanic ash from past eruptions, and makes for a one-of-a-kind experience in hiking. In a sense, it is slippery; one step forward may feel like one step backwards.  But I was quick-stepping, chanting one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind!  It was great!  At about 7000 feet, I had a brilliant view, and a powerful sense of determination.  It egged me on and came out strong as I encouraged the other hikers to continue.

 

The Top

Magnificent. Incredible. The most beautiful view I have had in my life so far. There aren’t enough words in the world for the vast view that stretched as far as the eye could see.  The height of the top is 8363 feet.

It was surreal. I did not want to pass out, or feel that way one bit. I wanted to take pictures and feel that accomplishment. It was like something out of an epic movie. I wanted to stay up there, live up there, but surviving up there’s not likely! Ha!

I wish that there were perfect words to describe the beauty, the feeling of accomplishment, and the relief of reaching the top of Mt St Helens, but it was unlike anything I have experienced in my life.

 

Heading Back Down

Going back down the ash was difficult, but we made it.

Since the hikers ran out of water, and I had been sharing mine, I ran out on the way down. Then, we found a waterfall from the melted snow. It was beautiful, and we knew we’d be out of trail soon, since the snow was melting.

All in all, it was a great experience. It was an excellent day for me.

Advice, and Next Time

I have some advice for you. Food and water is a must. Be sure you bring enough, because you will need it.  Also, wear pants, sleeves, and gloves. It is amazing how much difference this makes. On your way up, you will see people who tried to wear shorts, or didn’t wear gloves, and how much the volcanic rock beat them up. It scratches you because it is really sharp, even the ash has ridges.

Speaking of the sharp rocks, wear good shoes, and insoles. My shoes got really beat-up, and even got holes in them. It is funny, now, I like to say, “the mountain ate my shoes,” but really, the only thing that kept my toes from getting cut up was my insoles. The shoes were Adidas, and the insoles were Pro-Feet, in case you are interested.  Just know that good shoes and insoles are highly important.

Next time, or next mountain, I will definitely bring a bigger pack, and more water. Even though I had stocked up on plenty for myself, and then some just in case, I hadn’t accounted for the hikers who were with me running out so quickly. Remember, you need water on the way up, and on the way down.

Also, I would honestly like to start running from the very bottom part of the mountain, the dirt road you drive up to get to the trail head. Only then will I feel like I have run the whole mountain. To run up that logging road in addition to the trail – that will be the ultimate experience.

So who is with me next time? See you at the top!

 

 

What To Bring!

Hey bootcampers and adventurers! We at 41 Sports want you to be prepared for your adventures with us!

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Especially with this hike up the mountain coming up, we want you to have the right gear.

 

Here is some advice on what to bring on your hike:

Water & Food – You may want a little supply of nutrients on you. It isn’t 41 style to be stopping and eating and drinking all the way up the hike, however, you may come to a point where your body needs something to keep going, and it would be terrible if that point came and there was nothing available. We take extra care to ensure you make it up and back down our hikes with the group, and we all know there is strength in numbers. We aren’t suggesting, however, that getting lost is absolutely impossible, so you may want to keep that in mind, also.

Pocket Knife -You never know when you might need something sharp! 🙂

Jacket/Pants – You may think you are going to be hot, and you might be, but we also wouldn’t want you to get scraped up, or freeze yourself if the rains come, or a harsh wind picks up!

Fire – Maybe a box of waterproof matches, or a firestarter, would be a good idea. Like we said before, just in case of anything.

Headlamp or Flashlight – Sometimes we leave before the sun is up, or as it is going down. Even if we don’t, it is a good idea to have a flash light, just in case.

Trail Map – It’s a good idea to have a detailed map of the general area that you’re hiking. A topo map is helpful, also.

A Good Old Compass – If you don’t know your way around the woods, or how to tell where you are planted geographically, it’s a good idea to carry a compass. You can use this in combination with your map to catch your bearings, should you for any reason become separated from the group.

First Aid – Some basic first aid supplies are a good idea. Antibiotic ointment, gause, etc. What if the tree jumps out and scratches you! Ha!

Sunscreen – Stay back, skin cancer! Not that you always need sunscreen in WA, but when you are climbing the mountain, you get thousands of feet closer to that big burning object, and you may want to protect yourself.

Cellphone or Smart phone – Cell service is not everywhere, but a cellphone really can be a life saver if you are lost, even if it means hiking elsewhere to get service. Could be a good thing to keep on you – but remember, no calls on your hike. That’s distracting, and we must be ultra-focused.

Global Positioning System, or GPS – This wouldn’t be to replace a good old compass and map, however, they can really make life easier!

Remember, these are just suggestions. What would you suggest bringing?

trail

Adventure Training – Mount St. Helens!

Come with 41 Sports as we climb Mount St. Helens Summit!

We will climb all the way to the crater rim!

We will start at a trail head known as the Climbers’ Bivouac, where we will climb 1000 feet higher through the beautiful Washington forestry and scenery in the first couple miles! There are views of Mt Adams, Mt Hood, the Yale Reservoir, and of course the side of Mt St Helens. This part of the trail is known as the Ptarmigan Trail.

Next, we’ll go past Lootwit Trail and ascend up to Monitor Ridge.

 

This is where it gets really difficult! We will go the next 2500 feet up through fields of boulders. You’ll want to bring your gloves because these rocks have ash pumice on them and that can hurt! It will be a bit breezy, too, but we will be moving hard and fast!

 

The last section is a 1000 foot vertical feet climb through ash & gravel to the rim. Take in all the awesome views as you head up, and before long we will be at the summit!

“The scene at the top is almost surreal – the huge crater with a dome growing rapidly in size each year and the state’s newest glacier forming a horseshoe around it. And the incredible views to Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Mount Rainier floating above the blue-green undulating hills surrounding them. Be sure to stay well-back from the rim while taking photos; this is a cornice and could easily break under your feet.”
-wta.org

For more details about this trip, how to sign up and go with the group, what to wear, the costs, etc, please sign up for our Adventure Training Trips newsletter!! You will also receive updates about future trips. So even if you can’t make this one, or it sounds a little too extreme, sign up for the newsletter and we’ll keep you posted on the adventures to come!

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