Traveler-Wannabe: Hiking On Mount St. Helens W/ Random Strangers I Met On The Internets & Almost Dying



Although I haven’t been on many professional tours, I imagine it might be awkward and timed and pricy.

However, I was looking into it because I had about four extra days before the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon and had absolutely no idea how to spend my time. Everything I Googled led me to the same things: Powell’s Books and Voodoo Doughnut. Everyone I asked told me to do the same things: Powell’s Books and Voodoo Doughnut.

Most of the Portland attractions didn’t really excite me, but seeing the pretty countryside did. I heard there was a lot of prettiness on the countryside and I wanted to see it.

Only to see prettiness, you kind of need a car or a lot of money in your bank account. I have neither.

Even so, I was tempted to sign up for one of those pricy-fancy-schmancy-tours. Only I really didn’t want to pay for a pricy-fancy-schmancy-tour. Plus I had a feeling it might be one of those things where everyone already knew each other and I would be the loner–weirdo who didn’t have any friends.

I was still considering it, because honestly, you guys, I didn’t know how I was going to spend all that time in Portland. Before I signed up with a professional tour company, however, I tried to see if I could find Portland locals to come with me to the countryside and see prettiness and possibly share their car if they had one.

Surprisingly, I found an alternative!

Finding Awesome People To Hike With (And To Drive Me There)


I USE MEETUP.COM FROM TIME-TO-TIME IN CHICAGO AND it’s always either a hit or miss. So I decided to give it a shot in Portland. I found a group and threw out a suggestion to see if anyone had a car and was interested in driving to either Columbia River Gorge or Mount St. Helens, and sharing the cost of gas.

There were quite a few people interested. However, as stated earlier, I have learned in the past with meetupy events that people tend to be flaky—often committing to something and not following through. So I didn’t hold my breath—you know, just in case no one showed up.

Out of the 7 or so yes RSVPs, two lovely ladies followed through. Emily offered to share her car (the cutest little car ever) and refused to take gas money when I offered.

Emily’s cute little car.


And, Soleil (as in Cirque du Soleil), loves Justin Timberlake as much as I do. She has a poster of him in her apartment, you guys!

Justin Timberlake Lovin’


And she loves taking pictures as much as I love taking pictures.


The Drive Up There

WE DECIDED TO GO TO MOUNT ST. HELENS and hike on Lava Canyon.

You guys, nothing says temporary BFFs like three random girls in their 20s singing along to 90s pop music on the two hour drive up to Washington. In Emily’s super cute car there was a fancy-almost-magical radio station by genre. (There was an Oprah radio station! Oprah!)


Most of the way, we listened to 90s pop music. Yes, this included Nsync, Backstreet Boys, Britney, Christina, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

I’m actually super glad it was a total of three people than two just in case I didn’t have anything to say. This way if I didn’t say something, someone else could say something. However, we all seemed to get along perfectly and were OK with the occasional silence, and it didn’t feel awkward. You know how sometimes silence feels awkward and you feel like you should say something but don’t know what to say but end up saying something just for the hell of it even though you know that breaking the awkward silence is going to be even more awkward but you don’t know what to do because OMG-This-Feels-So-Awkward!

It didn’t feel like that.

Actually, all three of us were like BFFs on this day. It was totally like one of those scenes from Sex and the City where they take a trip together, wear high heels and drink martinis. Only we went on an intense hike in extreme heat then went to Burger King afterwards.

And, anyway, after the crazy intense hike, we were all kind of exhausted and couldn’t move, let alone talk. Even though Soleil (again, as in Cirque du Soleil), said she was going to run like 5 miles or something when she got home because she’s training for a marathon or something.

Guys, after hiking this for like 5 hours….


You wouldn’t even be able to get me to walk down the block let alone run.

It turns out that Soleil has a strict workout schedule that she sticks to.


And she has a pet mouse.

It’s somewhere in there.

It’s Somewhere In There.

And did I mention she’s a fellow former Nsync fan and Justin Timberlake heartthrob—only he can only be one of our baby daddies. Though it will probably be Jessica Biel who gets the baby from JT ( you know, unless they divorce).

(I’m totally kidding about the divorce, you guys. Kind of.)

Um, Excuse Me, Jessica, But I Was Supposed Be On This Honeymoon

Um, Excuse Me, Jessica, But I Was Supposed Be On This Honeymoon

Whatever, who wants babies anyways? The world is already overpopulated. Jeez.

The Five-Ish Hour Intense Hike & Almost Dying (And Falling A Lot)




A lot of intense.DSCF0068


There were steep trails, and a wobbly bridge.


And a ladder that I had to climb down from. And then climb up, too.


And more intenseness. But not as intense as these guys we ran into who were biking the trail!


And it didn’t help that I wasn’t wearing hiking shoes.


And, of course, silly me didn’t think ahead to actually bring snacks. Luckily Emily and Soleil were kind enough to share their snacks with me. Actually, Emily was super prepared with sunscreen, bug spray, water and snacks. She had peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwiches for all of us! And almonds, and apple sauce and bunch of other things. It was like she knew I’d be unprepared and foolishly not bring anything to eat. She had Gatorade and extra water too! It was like she knew I’d be foolish and not hydrate enough.

Then at one point Soleil mentioned something about climbing more stairs, and I misheard her and thought she said bear. Then I was all: ” OMG-THERE’S-A-BEAR!!”

Then they both laughed and corrected me. But seriously, you guys, if there was a bear, I would have went all Chicago on his ass. Or her. I don’t bear discriminate.

Then as we were walking, Soleil noticed a snake.

Like, she actually noticed a snake. And then I screamed. Like a girl. But in my defense, I am a girl.

But I guess it wasn’t one of those harmful-dangerous-poisonous snakes. And I hardly saw it as it ran (do snakes run?) into the bushes. But, seriously, you guys, if that snake and I came face-to-face, I would have went all Chicago on his ass. Or her. I don’t snake discriminate. ( Um, you guys, do snakes have asses?)

ANYWAY, AFTER THE THIRD HOUR, YOU JUST WANT TO TAKE A NAP AND start your own civilization because we kind of got lost and couldn’t find our way out. And it was hot.

Like, it was really hot.


We knew all we had to do was find the wobbly bridge and we’d be close to getting back to the parking lot. And, yes, it took about five-million-gazillion hours to find the wobbly bridge, but once we did, we knew we were almost at the finish line.


And once we were closer, it was a lot easier to keep going. That, and you know, we kind of had to keep going unless we wanted to live there.

I totally could have started my own civilization. You know, or died.


What I Learned

If there’s a will, there’s a way. ( That, and you should probably wear proper hiking shoes.)

If I hadn’t put this day-trip out there as a suggestion on Meetup, I wouldn’t have met these lovely ladies.


And now we’re all Facebook friends, and Emily and Soleil are constantly writing on each walls or timelines or whatever it is that you call it these days, and they’re all ” OMG, let’s go hiking next week.”

Actually, if you think about it, it’s because of me they’re friends. And now that I think about it, this kind of makes me feel left out.

Emily and Soleil: you guys are not allowed to hike without me.


Between an intense hike, wobbly brides, breathtaking waterfalls and extreme heat, at the end of the day I could say I hiked on this.


I’m just glad the volcano didn’t erupt while we were there. Because, you guys, that would have been bad.

Have you ever met up with random strangers while you were traveling and gone hiking with them and it turned out to be the best thing ever?

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