Sunday, July 19, 2015
Flowers at Mount St. Helens
For me, St. Helens brings imagery of that fateful day in 1980 certainly, but also many more. I have triumphantly stared down into the crater from the summit rim, hiked and photographed my kids on its trails for publications, enjoyed its flower show in early July, and sadly, lost my dad in a tragic fall on a late October day. The emotions the mountain has brought me pretty much run the gamut.
While most of the crowds flock to its neighbor to the north for the supreme flower shows, St. Helens proudly shows off her own display for those willing to come calling. It's a further drive for most in the Puget Sound area, but well worth it.
This has been a very interesting year, with summer starting approximately Decemberish. I kid, of course, but there is an element of truth to it. We didn't have a winter. The ski areas only opened long enough to seemingly meet the minimum requirement of days that they would not have to offer refunds (sad and unethical, in my opinion), and we never really had any measurable snow at the low to mid elevations in our state.
So the flower came early, as did access to higher level hiking trails. Hikes that shouldn't be accessible until late July or early August were being done in early June! It was crazy.
While the flowers came early, the displays I witnessed personally at Mount St. Helens did not measure up to normal years. I spent time in both the Windy Ridge area and Johnston Ridge, and feel this statement is accurate for both areas.
Johnston Ridge offered a far better showing, whether descending the Boundary trail from near the Johnston Ridge Visitor Center, or hiking up the trail toward Harry's Ridge or Coldwater Peak (of which I did both). While there were some excellent displays along both areas, I've seen better showings in previous years. Variety was mostly missing.
Back to the flowers (sorry, morning and evening sky shows distract me!). What happened once the flowers emerged? A continued warm and dry spell, that has continued to the day I am writing this. This resulted in the flower display being very short lived due to lack of precipitation. If you blinked, you missed them.
I hope you are all out enjoying our beloved hiking trails and enjoying this rare opportunity of great hiking weather most each and every day. The latest forecast models for the Pacific Northwest show this pattern continuing through...wait for it....October 2016!
Hope to see you on the trail (eventually)!