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Mount St. Helens

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Ghost Trees

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One of my east coast friends was visiting earlier this summer.  We spent one day visiting the eastern side of Mount St. Helens....an area of the volcano that I hadn't visited until that day.  Whew! There's a road that reaches very close to the crater called Windy Ridge ("windy" as in wind blowing -- and it definitely was blowing!), but the switchbacks in the road to get there left us questioning if it's really "windy" as in "a windy road".  In addition, there were many parts of this narrow windy road that were slowly sliding over the sheer cliffs.  I was literally driving on the other side of the road for most of the journey back down the windy road.  

Nevertheless, this long, but scenic 3-hour trek each way proved itself worthy with the vistas. We had glimpses of mountains Rainier, Adams, and Hood along the way.  Much evidence still remains of the 1980 eruption, but it seemed to be more green and filled with more regrowth than the northern side of the mountain.  It was nothing short of spectacular to say the least, but I would like to camp in the area the next time and explore some more.

 

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Climbing Mount St. Helens

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When I moved to Oregon almost 3 years ago, I thought that I was "outdoorsy". Until I met people who were doing weekly adventures of climbing Mt. Hood, rock climbing at Smith Rock, backpacking in to camp at some remote lake, cycling down the 101, etc. etc. 

Being outside and having experiences and adventures in nature is what drives me and makes me most happy. I've realized that I haven't been in the physical or mental shape that I would prefer and it's been holding me back from accomplishing the more challenging outdoor adventures that I'd like to do. After all, they both go hand-in-hand.

I've been making major positive changes in my life over the last few months. HUGE revelations and HUGE changes. Everyone has their own idea of what is a happy, complete life. For me it's having a few lifetime's worth of experiences in my own lifetime. When I'm old I hope to be saying "I DID that!" instead of blowing out more candles and saying "I WISH I would have done that." 

While recently seeing photos from my friend Peter's countless trips up Mount St. Helens, I commented that climbing it was on my list. He said, "I'll take you! Let me know when and I'll get the permit!" Suddenly I felt overwhelmed with a nauseating feeling of "Holy shit! I am in no shape to climb an 8,365ft mountain, but I REALLY REALLY want to!"

So screw it!...I made a promise to my friend Peter and myself to climb Mount St. Helens soon! There's no time like the present and the past sure sneaks up on us before we know it. No doubt that many of my friends have climbed it as no big deal. But it's a big deal for me because I haven't climbed a mountain this high. Having the goal to climb it also means that I need to get in shape to do so, which is long overdue for me. Two birds, one stone.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I plan to do weekly challenging/difficult hikes as well as smaller/easier hikes to better prepare myself for the climb up the big mama volcano. If anyone wants to join me on these adventures, get in touch. Here are some of the hikes on my list:
Dog Mountain
Saddle Mountain
Hamilton Mountain
Mirror Lake to Tom, Dick, and Harry
Burnt Lake
Ramona Falls

I'm writing about this on here so it's out there, I've committed to it, and now it needs to happen!

 

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Windy Ridge

Mount St. Helens is one of my favorite spots in the area...specifically the south side.  Today was my first visit to Windy Ridge, which is the closest you can get to the crater by road. 

The road is called Windy Ridge....like the weather, but the road also snaked along with many switchbacks so my friend and I debated where the name really originated.  In many spots, one side of the road was crumbling into nowhere, which forced us to drive on the other side of the road.  I've been on some snaking roads that left my stomach a bit weary in the past, but this was another experience.  The trip to get there and back from Portland was quite long (3 hours each way) for a day trip.

There were many sights that I had not yet seen on Mount St. Helens including this stand of "ghost trees" that still remain standing from the 1980 eruption. It was an eerie, beautiful sight!

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