I love the Pacific Northwest. Where else can you view three mountains in one day…standing in one place? Okay, well, we had to hike to the one place, but once we got there…shazam! Adams. St. Helens. Hood.
It was our first true hike of the summer. Seems odd to say that since it’s the end of June, but we spent much of May and the first part of June doing yard work. Garden, flowers, weeding, blackberry whacking. A couple of weeks we had three trees taken down, so the husband has been sawing on those. Earlier this week we had three yards of soil delivered to be spread in the beds around the house. Busy.
We originally intended to work on dirt last weekend, but they were unable to deliver it until Tuesday. So, I suggested a hike. I didn’t have to twist the husband’s arm.
Our destination was a no-brainer: Mt. Saint Helens. From mid-June to early-July many of the trails are surrounded by blankets of wildflowers. You can read about last year’s hike here. I am not exaggerating. Penstemon and paintbrush make up the bulk of the blanket, resulting in a dazzling display of purple and red. Truly beautiful.
We arrived at the trailhead a little after 9 and headed out towards Harry’s Ridge. The ridge is named after Harry Truman, the crusty old guy who lived at the foot of Mt. Saint Helens and refused to evacuate in 1980 when it became obvious that the mountain was going to erupt. He lost his life when the eruption covered his lodge in an estimated 150 feet of volcanic debris.
Harry’s Ridge is a little over 8 miles out and back with negligible gain. Hiking at Mt. Saint Helens is a unique experience. Dusty. Dry. Largely treeless. Positively volcanic. And, yet, there is a beauty about that half mountain. An exquisite beauty.
We made good time, arriving at the top of the ridge just a little shy of noon. We shared the view with less than a dozen others, though as we looked back where we had come from we could see lots of ants (people) marching their way our direction. Not a lot to obscure views at this mountain.
We pulled up a rock for lunch and drank in the view. Spirit Lake sat below us, a large raft of broken and twisted trees flung into her depths 38 years ago still present on her surface. In front of us stood Mt. Adams, perfectly symmetrical. To our right, the top of Mt. Hood, the sister to the south. A snidge further to the right…blammo…Mt. Saint Helens. Blue sky, three mountains, lunch, good company. Not a bad deal.
We eventually (reluctantly) pulled ourselves away from the view and headed back down the trail. I had to “settle” for flowers and only one mountain. It was tough, but I somehow managed. All too soon we were back at the car, winding our way back down the road. Well, not too far down the road. Coldwater Lake, just six miles from Johnston Ridge, makes a perfect place to stop for a cold Coors Light and an opportunity to swish hot trail feet in cold water. After our refresher we headed on home.
A good day. Looking forward to many others this summer.