Paintbrush and clouds at Mt St Helens, WA

June 21, 2019

Clouds thwarted our plan to hike to the top of Coldwater Peak, about 13 miles round trip from Johnson Ridge Observatory, and more than 3000′ total elevation gain. Most of Mt St Helens and the Mt Margaret backcountry, where Coldwater Peak resides, were socked in for the day. We didn’t even go to the top of Harry’s Ridge, as the thick cloud layer that hovered when we arrived at the saddle seemed immovable. Instead, we added a side trip to Devil’s Point on our return hike. On the plus side, the wildflower extravaganza was superb, and the all day cloud cover kept the hiking temperatures kind. This trail can be brutal on a hot and cloudless day.

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Indian paintbrush, penstemon and yarrow at the trailhead…preview for the day.

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First view of Mt St Helens, with her head in a cloud, and our best view all day.

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Flowers along the trail.

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More flowers – dwarf lupine and pussypaws added to the mix.

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Flowery foreground to Mt St Helens and the pumice plain.

 

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Clouds on the trail

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The landscape of today’s trail. We are hiking in the blast zone, and all this greenery has emerged since 1980.

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Approaching the decommisioned western arm of the Devil’s Elbow trail.

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Flowers and clouds

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Up the new Devil’s Elbow bypass trail.

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View of Spirit Lake from the top of the bypass.

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Paintbrush and dwarf lupine as far as the eye can see….

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Still hoping the clouds will lift…

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Yellow arnica in this section

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Tiny saxifrage flowers

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The same tiny saxifrage covers the slope that leads to the saddle with the trail junction between between Harry’s Ridge and the Mt Margaret backcountry.

At this point, we gave up on the clouds lifting, and headed back, enjoying the flowers along the way.

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We took the now dead end trail to Devil’s Point to our lunch stop.

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Devil’s Point ahead.

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Loowit Falls drains the Mt St Helens Crater Glacier.

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Looking back, Harry’s Ridge is still in the cloud.

Lunch views from Devil’s Point:

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East: Spirit Lake and the Pumice Plain.

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South: Mt St Helens with cloud cap.

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West: Johnson Ridge and trailhead. 

As we continued after lunch, the clouds lifted very briefly:

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Harry’s Ridge

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The Dome in Mt Margaret backcountry partially unveiled.

Hike #29 for 2019, 7.5 miles, 1500 feet. I felt strong at the end of the hike, like I could have made it to the peak and crawled back up the hill to the trailhead at the end of the day. We will return to try another day!

Extra flower photos:

Crafting:

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Knitting progress on Le Petit Sac by Pam Allen, using Sparrow linen by Quince and Co. I often have to knit the left twist rows twice 😉

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I patched, mended, and reinforced worn seams on six pairs of hiking pants.

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Summer sky with windows.

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