Mount St Helens

A beautiful beginning awaited me Friday morning. Sunrise across the prairie just past Toledo was spectacular and I was joined by that rangale of deer. A lovely start.

Below are several trail shots of both West Boundary trail as it connects past the Observatory, the Observatory itself and the Hummocks trail that begins seven miles below the ridge.

Mount St Helens was gorgeous as she sat quietly in the clear blue of morning. A few different shots with a little filter play on a couple of them.

I went in search of mountain goats and I was not disappointed! Here are a few of the baker’s dozen that I was fortunate enough to see. My trip report for the day is at the end of these picture galleries.

The Hummocks Trail was quiet and free of people until I was nearly finished with my walk. I saw more snakes than birds! The sooty grouse was hanging around near the goats up off the Boundary Trail, but the white-crowned sparrow was really the only good shot I got from the Hummocks Trail. There were lots of yellow-rumped warblers and a black-throated gray warbler that I could hear but never saw.

On my way home I stopped at Nisqually to stretch my legs and check on the two nests I know of on the back side of the boardwalk. The mama rufous has two babies in the nest and spends more and more time away. I waited nearly thirty minutes for her return. The tree swallows are nesting in a snag just off of the gravel road. Mama is waiting patiently inside. I haven’t seen any babies yet. The barn swallow was hanging out near the visitor center and gave me a lovely view of her tail feathers.

I spent the day at Mount St Helens Friday ahead of Monday’s opening of Johnston Ridge Observatory. I knew the road to the ridge was cleared earlier this month and I hoped to hike out to Devil’s Point. I parked in the large parking area and took a walk to the Observatory in search of goats, and I was not disappointed. From the platforms I could see a handful off to the left. I re-parked at the back of the lot and headed out towards the Boundary Trail.

Snow is sloppy and still fairly deep on the back side of this ridge. I had microspikes but I’m not sure they did much good. Easy to posthole in this melting snow so take it easy on this stretch. Once I came up on the mountain side, the trail was clear with only intermittent areas of snow. From here I could see a herd of ten goats below the mountain. I watched them climb up the ridge toward the observatory. 

As I headed further down the trail I encountered another goat, this time just off the trail. I was about a mile in and this goat was not going anywhere. I’m never sure how these goats will behave so I give them a wide berth. As I was standing there, watching it watching me, I heard a grouse “thumping”. I spied it right on the ridge and watched as the mountain goat inched closer. I sat and watched them both for awhile before returning to the parking lot and heading over to capture the large herd of goats climbing the ridge. Awesome sight. 

The Hummocks Trail was mostly free of people and was a beautiful walk. Such great diversity here. On the back side there were a few downed trees, but I encountered a group of three workers armed with a chainsaw to clear them as I neared the the last part of my short hike. 

All bathrooms were closed (and there are no services at all at Hummocks trailhead). Locked up tight. There are portable bathrooms at both the Coldwater Lake picnic area and boat launch areas. Boat launch potties stocked and fairly clean. I heard from a friend the previous day that the picnic area was not so great. 

13 Comments on “Mount St Helens

  1. Just divine. You know you way around filters. Those black and white shots of Helen are gorgeous. The goats seem the most satisfied and relaxed beings I have seen in a while. And most of all, I’m so happy that you don’t mention your knee. It clearly got better if not all the way back. I had something happen to mine at the same time when you mentioned it on FB. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t go up there with you (that is, if you’d take me).

  2. Also, waiting a half hour for mama rufous to return. I love going out with Nancy, but some photos are only there for you when you’re on your own timeline. (Or, when you can put yourself on the world’s timeline.)

    • Oh yes, so true! We are kindred spirits in that way for sure. Waiting to bear witness to something amazing is always worth every minute I spend. It’s how I’ve learned to be patient and attentive. Such a gift!

  3. Wonderful wonderful wonderful. Just wonderful!

    • Thanks, Jocelyn! I got a little bit of everything on this adventure. I may play around with more filters on the mountain shots and I’m really excited for my trip to Playa next week for more creative opportunities.

  4. Wow, quite a day! And I learned a new word, rangale. Thanks for that. I loved hiking along from my chair. Those goats! Those babies! That snow juxtaposed with moonscape-like terrain! Wonderful.

    • Thanks, Nancy. That Hummocks trail is a really wonderful hike. Lots of diversity in a fairly short distance. It’s part of the Southwest Birding Trail but not a ton of birds. The goats up near the snow made up for it!

  5. So envious of your goat spotting. They were missing from my view the day before your visit! And love the deer on the prairie, watching for . . . something. Rising sun?

    • I’m so sorry you missed them! And those deer on the prairie were so cool. Not sure I’ve ever seen them there before, but they picked a lovely place to view the sunrise.

  6. This is just all kinds of wondrous and spectacular… the goats are like something out of The Sound of Music!!! (lonely goatherd…*) ABONDANZA, Bon!!!!

    • It was another great day. I know I always say that, but I have to say nature never disappoints! The goats were such a serendipitous thing!

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