Forest Road Hike Near Mt. St. Helens National Monument

2020 Hike #: 157

Hike Distance: 7.7 miles Yearly Hike Distance: 1201.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 1230 feet Yearly Elevation Gain: 178141 feet

Today was forecast to have a temperature of about 100 degrees, where we live. We chose to flee the Wilamette Valley and hike in the higher elevations of the Washington Cascade Mountains. As a result, we found a network of forest roads that were adjacent to the Mt. St. Helens National Monument. It should be mentioned that we came well prepared to handle the heat, and stayed well hydrated during the hike. 🙂

To put it lightly, we hit pay dirt! We parked at an elevation of about 3200 feet, and quickly ascended to areas that were at or above 4000 feet. The beauty of the area we hiked is that there were expansive views of the Mt. St. Helens National monument, as well as north and south along the Cascade mountain range in Washington and Oregon!

Today was a four volcano day! Mt. St. Helens was in our face, with exceptional views of Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier. Mt. Hood was also visible but the atmospheric haze made it look like a phantom image. The rock outcropping (drop-off) we found gave us one of the best views we’ve ever seen of Mt. St. Helens and the Toutle River Valley. It turns out a road terminated at this rock outcropping, and a truck pulled up and spooked us, as the guys inside jumped out (sans masks) and climbed up the rocky area. They were too close for comfort and we quickly exited the area!

There are many other advantages of hiking at the higher elevations later in the summer. The flowers that have already bloomed and gone to seed, at lower elevations, are just starting to flower at the higher elevations. We received another flower show during this hike, with Lupine, Paintbrush and others reaching their peak blooms. It was a beautiful sight!

The biggest surprise we found at the high elevations were the availability of ripe Huckleberries!!! Oh how we love to see those ripe Huckleberries hanging from the bushes. We didn’t eat very many but it was a welcome addition to this fantastic hike! There were even ripe Salmonberries, although we aren’t as interested in them.

The temperatures at 4000 feet had to be in the high 70’s or low 80’s, but it felt much hotter in the direct sun. At the end of the hike we had much more shade, and it was quite pleasant while the trees protected us.

Now comes the only downside to our hike today, and it came in the form of flies! 😦 To say the flies were a nuisance would be putting it lightly. We were sweating quite a bit, and the flies never got tired of dive bombing us for the moisture and salt. I can take the flies that want moisture, but I have no tolerance for the horse flies, that crave human meat. These horse flies were like small birds, and they were relentless and fast. We were escorted by horse flies the entire hike, and toward the end of it I was done with them. My wife took the flies in stride, but they wouldn’t leave me alone, and tried landing to try and take a bite out of me every chance they got. We were almost entirely covered in light clothing, but that didn’t seem to deter them. It’s no wonder why I’m looking toward the colder temperatures; those damn bugs all die. haha

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