I once again decided to spice up my normal routine. I did two dayhikes, rather than my standard backcountry campout. Both dayhikes were in the company of some absolutely amazing folks! Saturdays hike was in the beauty of the barren area of the blast zone surrounding Mt. St. Helens. Sundays hike was spent in the lush haven of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River. My adventure began after work Friday night. I drove three hours east to my friend Kui’s house to spend the night. I fell asleep on the couch cuddled with the most adorable blind Dachshund, Blitz. I awoke early the next morning and met up with Stuke for the drive to our trailhead. Low clouds hung above our heads as we began our ascent. Once above cloud cover, however, the skies opened up to reveal amazing views. We pulled into the first lookout point to admire the vista. Bright blue skies stretched as far as the eye could see. The blown top of Mt. St. Helens stood proud above the pools of clouds at her feet. Everything lit up under the bright morning sun. The second lookout afforded us more astounding panoramas.
While leaving the second lookout, Stuke took a gander at his gas gauge. Quick math was calculated. A return back towards civilization, to fuel the tank, put a dent in our start time.Heading back towards the Johnston Ridge Observatory we once again ogled the views. The clouds began to burn off and glimpses of the valley could be seen below. Stuke found a parking spot in the nearly vacant lot. Gear loaded up, we were on our way. A little ways up the paved trail I realized I had forgotten my second camera lens. A quick jaunt back to the car put us slightly more behind on our start time.Back on the trail we went. Stuke pointed out a hole in a rock formation in the distance. That was where we were heading! I was as giddy as a school girl. The day was already warm. The views were stunning. The company kept me laughing with witty banter and crazy antics. We marched on.The trail led us east along Johnston ridge. The lava dome centered in Mt. St. Helens filled the distant views.
The pumice field lay below us.
Stuke took full advantage of every bench we came across as I paused to photograph the phenomenal scenery.
Our path led us below Harry’s Ridge. Spirit Lake finally came into view. A snack break was taken, great conversation ensued, and the scenery was stunning!
Back on the trail, we headed up. As we neared the hole in the rock that Stuke had pointed out in the beginning, we passed a weird little man. Dressed in cotton, including a hand towel draped over his head and held down by a baseball cap. He informed us that this was his second run up this trail. His previous attempt had been thwarted by females, who apparently aren’t able to hike? He also warned us of a slide further up a trail. Stuke applauded the restraint it took to keep from pushing the weird little man off the ledge. Our encounter amused us for the remainder of the day.
Through the rock and further up the trail, we came to a sign, one said Summit! I happily squealed “summit”, and up we went.
Astounding views welcomed us at the top of Coldwater Peak. Mt. St. Helens to the south, Mt. Rainier to the northeast, Mt. Adams to the east, and Mt. Hood a blurry speck southeast kept us enthralled. St. Helens lake and Spirit Lake laid below us.
We finally meandered back to the split in the trail and continued hiking towards The Dome.
As we neared our next waypoint, a tiny speck of a man-made object caught our attention. We made guesses as to what the object could be and our question was answered as we found a sign pointing to the toilet. The need to relieve myself, and curiosity about the weird little structure, led me to explore. The strange latrine was a welcome sight, and the views from my perch tickled my fancy.
After my short off trail jaunt I wandered up towards the Dome campsite and joined Stuke for another snack break. Witty banter passed the time as we munched our food.
Low on water, and no signs of a water source, made our decision to turn back almost easy. We trudged back the way we had come.
We arrived back at the parking lot and loaded our gear back into his car for the ride back to town. He dropped me off at my lonely little adventure-mobile and we said our goodbyes. Another glorious adventure had come to an end. The fabulous day filled my thoughts as I headed towards Cliffs house. Another adventure awaited me.I arrived at Cliffs abode, smelling like a dirtbag hiker and tired due to ten hours of sleep in the previous three days. A mixed drink was handed to me and a conversation with a group of compatriots occurred. Exhaustion finally whittled me down and I crawled into my car to catch some sleep. The morning arrived bright and early. Cliff, Christine, and I were off towards the days expedition. A quick stop to pick up two more adventurers then a long drive to the days starting point. A scraggly group was awaiting our arrival.
Introductions were made, gear was prepared, and we were off. The dense green underbrush was a completely different terrain than the previous days trek.
This journey was spent with the largest group I have hiked with, fourteen in total. We made our way up the easy trail at an accommodating pace for all involved.
Occasional stops allowed stragglers to catch up. Our arrival at the Cripple Creek Bridge signaled the start of the fun part of this adventure.
A primative, sometimes invisible, trail led us a little over a mile up. Log crawls, bushwacking, and scrambles put a smile on my face.
Calming sounds of the creek notified us that we weren’t far from the correct path. After a creek crossing and some more entertaining scrambling, our destination appeared before us. Tin Cup Joe Falls appeared massive above us. Water tumbled down a magnificent rock face.
We all took a break at the pools below the falls for a much deserved lunch break.
I had been informed that there was another falls to the right. I finished my grub and set off for some solo exploration. I was not disappointed!
Ripe Salmon berries were eaten as I clamored over boulders and logs to get a better view of the right side falls. I stared up at the magnificent waterway. My itch to climb higher was unable to be quelled.
I made my way up the rocks towards the upper portion of this waterfall. Cliff and Ken were tiny dots below me.
The views from my perch were astounding.
I made my way back to the group and we began our descent back towards the well beaten trail below.I began a slow solo walk back to the trailhead after all members of our group had been accounted for.
Ken finally caught up and my normal pace was resumed. We stayed ahead of the main group, eventually being passed by the two members who had brought their bikes. Ken entertained me as we jogged a short portion of the trail. He stopped to adjust his gear and I finished the journey alone. I arrived at the parking lot four minutes behind the bikes, with Ken and another adventurer not far behind. The rest of the group finally arrived and we set off to enjoy some grub and libations at North Bend Bar and Grill. Goodbyes were said and we all parted ways.
Cliff, Christine, and I arrived back at his house. I crawled back into my car and headed back towards home. Another wonderful journey complete.