So, I may have been on a few adventures since June. The High Sierras were brilliant. I’ve also explored around Mt St Helens, Jefferson Park, The Eagle Cap Wilderness, Oregon Coast, Montana and so much more.
One of the things that’s kept me from blogging is that in July I asked someone to do an exploratory backpacking overnight in the Mt St Helens wilderness and this guy said he’d join me.
Say hello to Andrew.
Mt. St Helens was a beauty. I was lucky enough to climb to the summit the day before. It is a fairly steady climb with amazing climate zones. You begin at Monitor Ridge trailhead located at the Camper’s Bivouac. (You’ll need a climbing permit if you want to go above the treeline).
The first part of the hike is in the beautiful evergreen forest. You get your legs warmed up and make a fairly comfortable walk up to the boulder field. There is a pit toilet at the loowit trail crossing. Everyone is grateful for it.
Once you come out of the forest, you begin to make your way up boulders. Here your body starts to work a bit harder and you might be hungry for a snack. This hike had us under the clouds on a mild day. The coolness of the atmosphere was a delight on the heated body.
Half way up the boulder field, we broke the cloudline. All of the mountain peaks around were sitting up on top of the clouds which covered the horizon line in all directions. It was a beauty.
As the elevation increases, the boulders get smaller and turn into talus and scree. Then the last part of the climb is straight up in pomace. I call it the Cuss Zone. Three steps, three slides back…and you’re tired.
The wind was really blowing at the top so I didn’t stay very long before I headed back down. The views at the top however are absolutely breathtaking. You have amazing vistas of Mt Rainier, Adams, Hood and Jefferson. Plus a landscape that is unmatchable. St Helens is still quite active. There are vents steaming and the cap dome is constantly growing as well. There are lakes as blue as the sky in the picture above a all beside a landscape that was once demolished in a massive explosion, but is now a delicately beautiful eco-system nurturing its way back to life.
Andrew met me at the Bivouac the evening after the climb. We camped there before we headed to the trailhead in the morning to hike out to Butte Camp Dome on the SW side of Mt St Helens.
At this particular time of the year, there were a ton of wild fires. The closest one to us was Mt Adams and there was lingering smoke in the air from the mass of fire in the PNW all together.
Our hike in was quiet and fun. Andrew and I got to know each other a bit better on the trail and he packed a bottle of bubbly, so we also instantly became friends.
We set up camp at Camp Butte Camp and then day hike up to the Loowit Trail and headed west towards the blast zone. The landscape was sensational to hike through. It was very dry, but you could see the remnants of wildflowers. It was also drastic with winding paths to giant crevices and boulders. We had a snack at the last big crevice before we turned around. It overlooked sheep canyon and the crescent ridge.
Back at camp we ate and had some bubbly. Andrew even climbed a tree. Then as most hikers do, off to bed after the sunsets.
At around 4:20 in the morning, I awoke hearing a strange noise. It was coming from the direction of the butte summit and it was loud. It sounded like very high wind.
I opened the tent zipper and shined my light out. It was snowing. Ash. The winds had changed and the ash from Mt Adams fires were dropping down all around us. I said, “We have to leave. Right now!”
I wasn’t sure if were in any eminent danger, or what, but my gut said, Move, Now! So we did. We packed up relatively quickly and had our packs and headlamps on as we headed down the trail to the car.
We got safely back to Portland and for the next 2 days the entire city was covered in ash clouds. The smoke from the fires had gathered in the gorge and came through to Portland.
More adventures to come!