The weather did its best to ruin our plans today, but we defied it mightily. We didn’t get a single glimpse of Mount St. Helens – unless you count the 2.5 cubic kilometers of the summit we hiked over.
Don’t get the jacuzzi suite if you intend to get an early start, cuz it won’t happen. Fortunately, we hadn’t planned to do too much today, so we got to linger happily in the room for the morning before heading out for adventure. Our first hike o’ the day took us down to the sediment retention dam on the Toutle River. It’s a remarkably easy and pleasant walk through a lovely young forest, with a walk across the top of the dam at the end, and it is magical. Loved it. Here’s a view looking behind the dam, where the water is slowed and the sediment settles out before the river continues on its way.
After that nice warmup, we headed on up the mountain. We dropped by the Forest Learning Center so that B could look at the exhibits – it’s a great place to get a sense of what the May 18th, 1980 eruption did to the forest.
Then it was time for hummocks! The cloud ceiling was just high enough to let us see the awesome eruption features in the river valley, and the rain held off. Yay! And the clouds gave a beautiful silvery sheen to the ponds that have collected within low spots in the hummocks topography.
And it was so calm that you could see some exquisite reflections. Here is a beautiful hummock contemplating its own reflection.
Down by the Toutle River, you can walk on a terrace made of lahar deposits and stand close to a hummock sliced in half. This should give you an idea of how huge some of these chunks of landslide debris are.
Conifers are slowly returning to the blast area! Here’s one that’s looking like a perfect little Christmas tree topping a hummock.
After we finished up the Hummocks Trail, we needed a cool-down walk. Luckily, Coldwater Lake is literally one minute away. It was nearly deserted and completely wonderful. And it did a geology demonstration for us! The path passes by a hummock which is too steep for things to grow well on, so it doesn’t have a lot of erosion protection. Water has begun carving it, and here has created a mini-alluvial fan. Awesomesauce!
Then, just as we were returning to the car, it started pouring rain, so that worked out beautifully. Our timing couldn’t have been better. Alas, Patty’s Place had closed early due to the lack of business, so we ended up going to a place in Castle Rock. Which was also awesome, despite the poor service and mediocre food, because it was close enough to the hotel for us to take our burgers to go, and still have them be piping-hot as we tucked in whilst watching cartoons.
We’re not yet sure what we’re doing tomorrow. It depends on the weather. We’re hoping to do the south-side approach to St. Helens, but if the weather’s foul, we’ll try the Gorge instead. Either way, we should have plenty of awesome pics for ya!