In the morning, we woke up to the chirps of mountain chickadees and the musky smell of juniper. The sun was already warm at 6am and we knew there was a long day ahead of us. By 7 the oatmeal was finished, camp was broke down and we were ready to hike.
The trail was fascinatingly desolate. Dried mud and ash made the landscape resemble the moon, with boulders scattered about and deep canyons formed by only a few decades of erosion. It felt as though we were hiking in a desert, void of life for thousands of years. Thankfully there was a creek large enough to drink and bathe.
When we reached the trail marker the incredible view of blast zone lay before us. We were struck with awe and excitement as we dropped our packs and climbed higher up the mountain to get a better view. We could see three other volcanoes in the area (Hood, Adams, & Rainier), Spirit Lake still littered with dead logs, and 10+ miles of destructed forest.
The sun was getting high as we made our way into the blast zone. The brilliance of the wildflowers became a second thought as the the new lava dome came into sight. This dome is the beginnings of a new mountain forming from the crater of St Helens.
This was our biggest day on this adventure. We hiked 24 miles. The highest point was at 4,885 ft and camp was at 2,050 ft. It was a long, hot day and after a bath and dinner we went right to sleep.