Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Mountain Watching over the Yakima Valley: Mt. Adams

The first glimpse of Mt. Adams is seen in the distance coming over South Umptanum Ridge on I-82 E from Ellensburg. Often visitors to the Yakima Valley confuse the mountain they see, with Mt. Rainer to the north, as both mountains are shaped similar with a flattened dome.

As you travel over the Fred G Redmond Bridge, Selah is the first city you come to then traveling through a small gap between the hills you enter the cities of Yakima and then Union Gap. Continuing on through another gap between the hills, provides the most unobstructed view of Mt Adams.

This mountain, named for President Adams, is the second highest mountain in Washington State. Sacred to the Native Americans, there are legends involving Mt. Adams or Pahto (Paddo or Klickitat) in the native language. In one legend Mount Hood or Wy'east and Mount Adams (Pahto); were the sons of the Great Spirit. The brothers both competed for the love of the beautiful Mount St. Helens (La-wa-la-clough). Wy'east took La-wa-la-clough from Phato, losing La-wa-la-clough caused Pahto such grief that he dropped his head in shame (explaining Mt. Adams' flattened dome appearance).

Taking Exit 40 to the Yakima Valley highway, passing orchards and vineyards, and wineries, you will see Mt Adams in the distance. there are great places to stop and take in the view, such as Windy Point Winery, Knight Hill Winery and Hyatt Winery. Taking the Buena Road to Highland Drive affords views of Mt Adams. The mountain is behind you but there are wineries along this route in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA to stop and enjoy the scenery.

If you want to climb or hike on Mt Adams, then starting your hike at Bird Creek meadow you will need a Yakama Reservation Tract-D tribal-use permit. A few of the routes that are on the Reservation are Mazama Glacier, Klickitat Glacier, The Castle, or Rusk Glacier Headwall. If you are not an enrolled member of the Yakama Nation, your climbing season is restricted from July 1 to October 1. The permit is available at the Mt Adams Ranger District office. It is interesting to note that the Pacific Crest Trail traverses the western flank of Mt Adams.

The Yakima Valley Visitor and Convention Bureau has featured a graphic of Mt. Adams in their new branded image, in recognition of the prominence and beauty of this grand mountain to the Yakama Nation and the Yakima Valley. (Seen Above)

Sources: Legends, Hiking Info. Gifford Pinchott National Forest-U S Forest Service website

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