Southwest Washington, 1-Oct-2013

With the government shutdown, there has been lots of conflicting information about what will be open and what will be closed. We decided to go with a trail which didn't require a pass, figuring it would be OK, so we packed up and headed up towards Mt. St. Helens to hike the Hummocks trail. 

What's a hummock?  In this context, it's a mound of rock and mud covering a piece of the mountain which got thrown during the eruption. The trail we took was supposed to have lots of them, as well as lots of ponds and other water features. That ended up definitely being true.

 Hummocks surrounding a pond

Hummocks surrounding a pond

As we started out, the weather wasn't too bad, with a few sprinkles. As we progressed, however, the rain started up. Fortunately we had our rain gear, so we were able to enjoy the sights as we went along the trail. The hummocks were very cool to see, varying in size from small mounds to just short of hills. 

 North Fork Toutle River

North Fork Toutle River

We also got a lot of great views of the North Fork of the Toutle River, which is quite big. The river used to be fed by Spirit Lake before the volcano erupted in 1980, but was cut off.

When we had first arrived at the park, there were a couple vans from Portland there. As we finished the hike, the group was also returning; they had done on a different hike which started from the same place. They were supposed to go to the Johnston Ridge Observatory, but changed their plans since that was closed.

 Hoffstadt Creek Bridge

Hoffstadt Creek Bridge

On the drive back to Kelso, we stopped at an overlook to eat our lunch. There wasn't much of a view of the mountain, since visibility was quite low with the weather. Melody did get a glimpse of the base of the mountain while we were driving, however. 

We also pulled off at a sign that said, "Bridge View", thinking it was a way to get to the bridge we had just crossed, giving us a view of the valley. However, the turnoff went up the hill, and at the end was a view of the Hoffstadt Creek Bridge. We did enjoy the view, even though it wasn't quite what we expected.

We got back to the room around mid-afternoon, and decided to head over to Starbucks for some café time. I checked the local rain prediction, which showed it should stop in about 15 minutes, which it did. We hurried over, got settled, and it started to rain heavily again. As we were almost ready to leave, I checked again and the local prediction showed the rain should stop in about 10 minutes, again which it did.  We stayed dry going back, then headed over to a BBQ restaurant in Longview for dinner. Even though we spit a platter and a cup of smoked salmon chowder, we still had more than enough food to take back to the room. We settled down for the evening and had some dessert.

Planning for the next day, it looked as if we could stick with a state park, giving us another day to figure out what was going on with Mt. St. Helens.