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Looking over at the glissade chute next to me with sweaty sunscreen dripping in my eyes made me want to take a step off the struggle bus and jump on the joy train, but I kept on trucking.  Two of my friends, Max Posner and Nick Gilbert, and I went on an epic 24-hour adventure from the source of the White Salmon to Hood River.  We hiked, kayaked, and swam our way through one of the most challenging and fun 24 hours I have ever had.

                Ever since I was young I have loved to push my limits to see what I am capable of and that desire has only strengthened with age.  We started the adventure the night before packing and setting shuttle with a car at the mouth of the White Salmon, and one across the Columbia in Hood River.  We were running slowly as we had worked all day on the river and were trying to remember all of our gear.  Once we had everything packed away in the van we drove all the way up to the Mt. Adams South Climb trailhead. On the way we were talking about bears and Max had never seen one before, so of course 3 minutes later a big bear charges out of the woods and nearly collides with our van.  It was not lost on us that Max had nearly killed his first bear in a hit and run.  Yup, this was going to be quite the adventure.  We got to the trail head around 8:30 in the evening and started hiking at 9:18.  Our goal was to be in Hood River before nightfall the next day and the watch was ticking.  After a long day we were exhausted and after a quick meal of beans and rice we set up camp one mile up the trail.

                Overall, we were efficient when we were in motion, but our transitions were our slowest moments.  I remember jolting up in the morning and looking at my watch to see that we had slept over an hour past our desired wake up time at four AM.  The extra sleep was greatly appreciated, but that just meant we had to be even faster when we got going.  A quick breakfast of leftover beans and rice started our day and we charged up the mountain as fast as we could with summit packs.  For me this was the hardest part of the journey as we climbed roughly 6,200 ft in five miles. There were many moments on the mountain where I wanted to stop and turn around.  The hot sun beat down on us and towards the top every 30 steps I had to hunch over due to the altitude.  Max and I laughed later about the times when we would look over at the other to only see them hunched over.  A challenge is called a challenge for a reason and we kept on climbing past the false summit to the top where we took a quick snack before the descent.

Let me tell you the descent was fast, hilarious, and in my opinion the best part of the adventure.  What took us an hour to climb we flew down in ten minutes.  We boot skied, glissaded, and laughed our happy and tired souls to the bottom.  I think Nick enjoyed this the most as he always had a massive grin on his face and was giggling like a small child in a bubble bath.  Mt. Adams was a humbling climb, and to step foot on the snow that feeds the mighty White Salmon river was an awesome experience.  I like to think that my sweat and piss will flow into the river in a few years helping to keep water levels high for the sport that I love.  Once down the mountain which had taken us 7 hrs to climb and two and a half hours to descend we drove to the Truss put-in for the real fun to begin.

                We were all exhausted after the hike and long drive to the put-in, but we were ready to start kayaking one of our favorite rivers on the planet.  We reached the put-in at around 4:30 pm.  To add to the adventure, Max had some friends in town who had never done the Truss before so we decided to show them down.  We paddled our way through the many rocks and water boofs the truss provides at low water.  Everything was going smoothly, but Big Brother was too low to run safely so we walked around it and one of Max’s friends swam in one of the rapids between Big Brother and the Zig Zags.  A quick recovery kept us moving, but Max, Nick, and I were worried that we weren’t going to reach the Columbia before nightfall.  After the Truss and Max’s friends were in familiar territory we paddled like hell to reach the end of our journey.  We were tired, but paddling non-stop put us in a groove that allowed us to knock off mile after mile in quick succession.  The White Salmon river is an incredible playground that provides paddling for every level of paddler with some world class sections that I am happy to call my home.  Seeing the White Salmon from its crystallized headwaters to paddling down its raging channels and rapids was an incredible journey. 

                We reached the takeout at around 8:30 pm giving us plenty of time to swim across the Columbia.  Technically we had already completed the source to mouth of the White Salmon, but somewhere in our trip planning we got the harebrained idea to swim across the Columbia at the end of it.  We drove a car to the bridge across the river so that the Columbia current wouldn’t push us downstream too far.  Our goal was to swim across to the sand bar that many kite boarders and wind surfers use as a setup point for their launches.  Nick didn’t want to swim so he acted as our kayaking support if we got too tired.  I elected to wear a life jacket as I was exhausted and didn’t want to drown on the last leg.  So Nick, Max, and I took off at 9:00 pm. I was excited make the swim, but honestly dark, open, water invites all kinds of nightmarish events into my mind.  Max and I kept thinking about the lone shark that made it up through the dams coming up to bite our legs.  Nothing of the sort happened of course and we swam across in 30 minutes to the sand bar.  In 24 hours we had done it, over 6,000 ft of elevation gain and loss during 12 miles of hiking, 20 miles of paddling, and a one-mile swim. 

                We clapped each other on the backs and congratulated ourselves on an incredible adventure that allowed us to experience the White Salmon river in all of its splendor.  Next time we all agreed that when we do this we want to bike from the Mt. Adams trail head to the truss; the journey will be all human powered.  Exploratory kayaking is a sport that catches my eye and I am excited to venture into this world of challenges and adventure.   

Pictures Climbing up, made it, Glissading , The Mouth courtesy of Nick Gilbert

Pictures Jair courtesy of Dave Farkas

Picture Big Brother Courtesy of Pete Choate

– Jair Cruikshank