By Justin Dille – THE CHARTER FEATURES
As her head crests over the edge of the mountain’s summit, the perpetual roar of high altitude winds drown out the sound of the pumice rock trail crunching beneath her feet. Moments later, Mrs. Mohr takes her first step atop the crater of Mount St. Helens. Behind her, a five mile long trail, spanning 4,500 feet of elevation gain. In front of her, a vertical drop to the volcanic wasteland below, also known as the mountain’s crater. In a state of vertigo from the height and high winds, Mohr drops her backpack, and advances toward the crater’s edge, crawling so as not to be blown over the edge. As she approaches the event horizon of the volcanic abyss, she braces herself from a mighty gust of wind behind her, looking up just in time to watch her hat plummet into the depths.
Mrs. Mohr is one of two assistant directors at Alliance Charter Academy. Her position’s primary focus is to aid and support the teachers of ACA in their daily routines. Mohr’s experience with the ACA community pre-dates the school itself, tracing back to the former school program known as Linkup. However, behind her academic career, Mohr holds a spirit for adventure and discovery.
Many years ago in the springtime, Mohr had just began to recover from a medical procedure that left her too weak to move independently. In that time, she had decided to come up with an end goal for her recovery. Eventually, Mohr decided that she would challenge herself to climb to the top of Mount St. Helens.
“I had talked about it quite a bit before the procedure…,” Mohr said during a press conference with various reporters of the ACA Charter, “…but never seriously.”
From that moment on for the next three months, Mohr had been planning and training for her grand adventure. She gradually regained the strength to walk, until she could set out on more challenging hikes such as Dog Mountain’s, an older and notoriously steep trail in the gorge.
Eventually, the day arrived for Mohr to begin the twelve hour adventure up Mount St. Helens. Among her packed equipment, she carried a rather unusual tool. A HAM radio sat safely in Mohr’s hiking pack.
“I had heard that cell reception was very inconsistent the closer you got to the mountain, so I decided to bring my radio because there was a better chance of getting a signal if we (her and her hiking group) needed to contact the outside world for any reason,” Mohr said.
Although the majority of the hike was decently challenging for Mohr, with not too extreme of demand, there were two sections of the hike that Mohr remembers were particularly difficult. The first was a section she calls “the boulder fields,” a section of trail that requires hikers to constantly climb and be conscious of where they are stepping or grasping. It was in this location that a friend of Mohr who accompanied her on the hike got his arm stuck between some rocks. Later he would free his trapped limb and they would continue on the trail.
The second area of challenge was the summit itself.
“I already had assumed that the summit would be challenging, because you’re tired from hiking all day, and the trail gets a little steeper…,” Mohr said, “…but it didn’t occur to me at first that the summit would be covered with sand-like ash. So suddenly it was like climbing a sand dune in the desert or the beach. You would take two steps forward and slid one step back.”
Overall, summiting Mount St. Helens was a very memorable experience for Mohr, she said. When asked what was most memorable about the experience, Mohr responded that the view at the summit was breathtaking, and that, “You can never truly imagine what the view is like up there unless you’re standing there yourself. Pictures just cannot do the scale justice,” said Mohr. Mohr also remembers this hike because it is one of the last things she was able to do with her friend, as he would pass away soon after from ALS, a nervous system disease that weakens the muscles and impacts physical function. It is most commonly know through such people as Stephen Hawking. It was only until after the hike that symptoms began showing.
If you are interested in hiking Mt St. Helens, it is important to know that in order to do so, you are required to have the proper permits, such as parking and trail use. Parking permits can be acquired from most checkpoints and ranger stations, but the waiting list for Mount St. Helens hiking permits is roughly one year. When asking Mohr advice for the trip, she responded with, “ Get the proper equipment, a good pack, lots of water, more than you might think, it goes away super fast when you are working that hard, hiking shoes, it’s probably do-able in regular walking shoes, but after a while it’s going to get uncomfortable, and some hiking poles.”
Mount St. Helens institute – permits
Accessed Feb 12, 2017.
Accessed Feb 12, 2017.
FallsFreak – OregonHikers.org – Mount St. Helens
Accessed Feb 12, 2107.
Mount St. Helens Institute – preparing for your climb
Accessed Mar 8, 2017.
jessbee – OregonHikers.com – Dog Mountain
Accessed Mar 8, 2017.