Mount St. Helens

Easy mountain, hard hike, is the description given time and again of the route up this active volcano in southern Washington. We scooted up this boulder strewn, patchy snow covered living, breathing mountain in a little over four hours. Stellar for us. When I know a mountain is coming up, I gear up mentally by taking on a real “get er done” attitude (even though that expression makes my skin crawl). With me barging up the trail we knocked off the first 2 1/4 miles in 50 minutes with Steve reminding me save something for the end. We did slow considerably as the steepness increased.

The summit rim provides a fascinating view into the crater. So very strange to see a mountain with an entire side blown away. The only movement from within the crater was a little steam and a fair amount of rock fall. Great view of the lava dome that has built over the past few years. We lingered at the crater rim for some time before heading down.

We were almost slower doing down the mountain than up it. There are sections of loose dirt, and lots of boulder scrambling which all seem easier to negotiate going up than down. But the real reason we were slowed was the glisading. Glisading is sliding down the mountain over snow. Typically one has an ice axe to control speed and is dressed for true “mountain” conditions. Since much of the mountain is melted we didn’t take up axes but we still wanted to glisade. A Kentucky girl can’t resist snow in July. So a couple times we changed into rain pants and with a treking pole replacing ice axe headed down well worn glisade patches. Normally this makes a descent very fast but it was slowed us as we did it sporadically down the mountain due to snow conditions and our comfort level. Still is was fun to see Steve in front of me sun beaming down on his straw hat covered head cruising down a snow field.

A look inside the volcano crater at the lava dome.

A look inside the volcano crater at the lava dome.

The crater walls with steam rising in the background.

The crater walls with steam rising in the background.

Resting on the rim.

Resting on the rim.

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