One of the biggest reasons I took my kids to Seattle was to share the experience of hiking in the most beautiful state I’ve had the pleasure of visiting (six times). I’ve hiked all over the state with my friend Molly and have always wanted to share Washington State with my
Our hike began at Climber’s Bivouac trail and followed
Here we are at the beginning of the hike, so happy to be together embarking on such an exciting jaunt!
The first hour or so of this hike was pretty easy; it’s all through the woods, a distance of about two miles and 1000 vertical feet -- a nice, gentle warm-up.
The longest part of the hike involved
Because these boulders are covered with pumice, they are abrasive; I’m very glad Kendall and I wore gardening gloves, which saved our fingertips!
The last part of the ascent to the top of Mt. St. Helens involves walking 1000 vertical feet on fine, volcanic ash and stones. It’s 20 to 30 degrees colder up there, as well as windy. It’s slow going.
Even though we found ourselves
Eventually, the cloud moved away and we were able to peek a little over the edge. We went no further than this, because that's just a stupid (and forbidden) thing to do, as we're standing on
To see what’s there, you’ll have to climb the mountain yourself, of course; that’s the payoff!
use Google, of course; our photos aren’t that great) or
I will share something that surprised me when I first hiked to the crater rim, though, because I know some of you wonder, too. If you hike to the rim of an active volcano, you might expect to see a hole, right? Maybe some burps of steam or a flame or two? Nope; when Mt. St. Helen’s blew her top, it lifted and expelled lava (of course), but then collapsed back down. The surface of the crater kind of looks like a souffle or pie when you take them out of the oven.
From the top of Mt. St. Helens, you can see Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier; it's truly breathtaking; so much so that we forgot to take panoramic photos.
Before we leave the top, I’m going to give you a little piece of valuable advice and say no more: If nature calls, any place on this hike, you’re probably going to have to answer; be prepared!
The descent is as remarkable as the climb up, especially if you like the idea of sliding down a 45-degree mountain wearing a garbage bag as a sled. Since that’s a post all its own, I’ll wrap this up and share that one tomorrow. All in all, the hike took us about ten hours, round trip. It took about six hours to reach the top and four to get down, so we averaged about one mile per hour. We started at 9:45am. I recommend starting much earlier if you want to reduce the stress that comes from seeing the sun start to set when you’re still up on the mountain and especially if you don’t plan to slide down part of it (which saves at least an hour’s worth of descent time).
Kyle and Kendall loved this hike! I found it as breathtaking as ever and hope to go back one day. Hiking Mount Saint Helens is a lot of work, but the payoff is great, in so many ways!