We have five active Volcanos in Washington State. This week marks the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mount Saint Helens, and is a reminder of how powerful these giants can be; and she wasn't even the largest. At 12,281 feet, Mount Adams is the second highest peak in our state and has produced some very cool geologic features.
As with most of our adventures, we left Friday after work and drove until just before sunset. The first camp was at the southern end of St Helens, on the banks of the Swift River. This past winter was extremely mild for us, leaving all of the rivers and reservoirs well below normal levels. Swift River looks more like little Swift Creek! Continuing east the next morning, we had some bad luck with the snow on backcountry forest roads, forcing us to rethink the route to Mt Adams.
By mid afternoon we made it to the forests to the southwest of the mountain, and began to explore the many wonders in volcano country. First was the White Salmon Wild & Scenic River canyon. This area is used by kayakers because of its swift currents and challenging rapids. The vine maples and sward ferns were in full bloom, making the day feel like mid summer.
The Ice Caves were particularly cool. I mean caves are exciting to explore in general, but instead of stalactites made of minerals, they were made of ice. The footing was a bit treacherous inside and the air was shockingly frigid, but wandering though ancient lava tubes is always pretty amazing.
Using our trusty road atlas, we found a promising camp spot deep in the wilds of Gifford Pinchot National Forest. A reclaimed clear-cut area was our camp for the night, with a great view of Mt Adams and a variety of young, sub alpine trees. This was perfect for a private weekend get-away. After only a few minutes of exploring our vicinity we found a beautiful waterfall deep in a basalt canyon.
With careful feet and sturdy hands we climbed down a 150 foot rock wall to a large boulder in fount of the falls. It was obvious that not many people had ever been here, or even knew of this hidden beauty, and we felt very lucky to feel the mist on our naked skin.
Next weekend is Gay Spring Break at Vantage, WA. :) Looks like it's going to be an epic year! Hope you all are enjoying Springtime and the outdoors!