Saturday, February 16, 2019

Wildflowers at Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens above meadows of lupine in Pumice Plain, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Washington, USA.
Lupine in bloom in Pumice Plain below Mount St. Helens.
When most people think wildflowers in Washington state, they immediately think of Mount Rainier.  And why not?  The area is spectacular!  But further to the south, more people are starting to discover colorful flower displays scattered around Mount St. Helens.

Johnston Ridge is the most obvious and easiest to get to.  Wildflowers can be viewed by the parking lot or on short paved path to an amphitheater behind the visitor center.  For more easy views, the Boundary Trail can be walked below the visitor center from a pullout before the Visitors Center.  For the more ambitious, hike the Boundary Trail east from the Visitor's Center towards the Truman Trail.  All excellent choices, and typically prime in early to mid-July.

If you want to escape the crowds a bit, head to Windy Ridge on the NE side of the mountain.  Again, roadside displays are readily available.  But even better displays await those willing to stretch their legs.  Norway Pass is a famous viewpoint overlooking St. Helens above Spirit Lake.  An eruption of colors can be found along this section of the Boundary Trail, as well as the Independence Ridge Trail.  For the best experience, make this a loop trip, hiking counterclockwise!

From the south side of the Windy Ridge parking lot, walk around the locked gate and walk the former logging road south to the Truman-Abraham Saddle.  Here there are choice to be had (and you can't go wrong with either!).  For flowers, continue walking the road downhill, now known as the Truman Trail, to hook up with the Windy Trail.  Turn right.  In early to mid-June, lavender colored slopes will greet you on Pumice Plain, and if arriving at peak, the aroma of lupine may overtake your senses.

The above image was taken along the Windy Trail along Pumice Plain, after shooting sunrise from the Truman-Abraham Saddle.  A prominent lenticular cloud had been present off the top of the mountain at sunset, but had mostly dissipated by mid morning, when this shot was taken.

This image is currently being used in a keynote presentation by a prominent local technology corporation here in Washington.