This has been a strange year.
Yep. Profound, that one, isn’t it? Super unique, no one else has said that about 2020, I’ll bet.
While it’s not the most creative statement, it’s still really true for me – I’ve finally started stretching my legs and exploring Oregon again, seeing my home through new lenses, in a new light, and from new vantage points. I’d run out of ideas for nearby hikes, but thankfully Laurel had a suggestion for us – The Northern side of Mt. St. Helens, hiking out to Coldwater peak…
Length – 11.9 miles
Starting elevation – 4,180ft
Elevation gain – 2,785ft
Trail type – out and back
It was a bit longer than I’d normally do on my own, but we decided to go for it anyways – The weather in Portland was slated to be extremely hot (above 100 degrees), so any escape from the city would be preferable to staying in town. We figured that 4,100ft would be enough to bring out some cooler weather to complement the excellent views of St. Helens that we’d be sure to find.
Well, we did find the views.
The heat… we also found that.
Turns out, 4,100ft isn’t actually that high. Sure, it was cooler… but “cooler” is relative. When we parked and put the top up on the car, it was solidly into the high 80s. And on a trail with no shade, as the sun was rising… well, we definitely made it convincingly into the 90s while on the hike.
It was worth every second of it, though. Even the ending part, where I was slowly melting into my boots, and Laurel was nearly dragging me back to the car. I mean, it wasn’t really that bad, but I was definitely pretty tired and quite toasted by the time we made it back to the car. The top stayed up for the drive home, if that wasn’t obvious. Easier to crank the air conditioner.
The hike itself? It was beautiful! Excellent views of the North side of St. Helens, beautiful lakes, and a generally pleasant trail the entire way. Not much shade, of course… but that’s what happens when a massive volcanic eruption decimates the entire landscape.
For those not in the know – The North side of St. Helens is where the majority of the eruption damage occurred. The exact chain of events (as I learned) was that an earthquake triggered a massive landslide, exposing the core of the volcano, which then erupted into a series of pyroclastic flows. Where we were hiking was the boundary of the closed-off zone, which is protected for study of wildlife renewal after cataclysmic events. It’s really cool, and quite humbling to see just how extensive the damage was… and how well the landscape is healing itself.
Anyways, that’s a bit of a meandering way of saying that the hiking was beautiful, the company was great, and views were excellent, and the geologic factoids were very interesting. There was even a cool natural arch, with some fun bouldering lines on it! Ironically, better rock climbing than we’d found the previous weekend out at Larch Mountain… but let’s stick with the positive, hmm? The rock quality was great, there was some shade, a good breeze… man, it was good times.
Still meandering… I think that’s about it. The drive from Portland wasn’t bad, we had good music, and even stopped to get enchiladas and a marionberry shake on the way home. Good times indeed!