Southwest Washington, 2-Oct-2013

Another morning which started with a trip to the breakfast room followed by checking both the weather and if anyone knew what would be open or closed due to the government shutdown. We settled on a hike which was in a state park, bypassing federal parks and making use of our state park pass. 

We headed out to the Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center, which is run by the state, even though the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and the Gifford Pinchot National Forest which surrounds it are federal. Confusing, isn't it?

Near the visitor center is a path which takes you onto Silver Lake, a huge (3,000 acre) body of water. It's considered to be dying since there is so much flora and fauna moving in, taking up more and more of the lake as time goes on. 

 Silver Lake, with boardwalk in the background on the right and path on an island on the far right

Silver Lake, with boardwalk in the background on the right and path on an island on the far right

 Boardwalk going onto Silver Lake

Boardwalk going onto Silver Lake

After finishing the bit-over-a-mile loop, we drove across the highway to Seaquest State Park to explore the trails there. We had gotten a map from the visitor center, so kind of knew where we wanted to go, but as it ends up there were maps at every intersection. Very nice!

 

 Seaquest State Park

Seaquest State Park

When we figured we had been hiking enough, we chose a course which would take us back to the car. On the way we went by the yurt area, where we had lunch at the covered picnic tables.

 Yurts at Seaquest State Park

Yurts at Seaquest State Park

Since there was an exhibit area at the visitor center, we then drove back there to take a look. We began looking at the exhibits, but when time came for the short movie to show, we went to the theater, joining a half dozen other people. Seconds before the movie began, a group of about 40 high schoolers swarmed in, filling the front half of the theater. After the movie, we were worried they would swarm through the exhibits, but they breezed through them and went outside, probably to walk around Silver Lake. We finished looking at everything, then went to talk to the person at the desk to ask her opinion of what trails would be open. She thought that the trails were open, as long as you didn't cross (let alone block) any of the closed gates.

Since we were getting more answers of "the trails are open" than "the trails are closed", we went ahead and got a National Forest parking pass to use the next day. When we got back to the room, it was early enough to do another Starbucks run, so we did that, then headed back to the room for dinner.

As we were eating, Melody saw a tour bus pull into the parking lot, and out came a bunch of, yes, high schoolers. Indeed, a few minutes later, we heard a bunch of them going up and down the hall. We're not conspiracy theorists, so didn't think it was the same group of kids following us around.