The Hills Are Alive

Silver Star Scenic Area, Washington
~5.5 miles, 1440 elevation gain 

Mount Saint Helens from the Chinook trail

Meadows as far as the eye can see and flowers galore, running rampant along the slopes. Sound of Music stuff. Butterflies. Indian paintbrush, lupine, beargrass, tiger lily, wild iris, spirea, wallflowers and countless others I cannot name. Sprawling views. A return to Silver Star.

Saturday morning. The last minute cancellation of previously scheduled family activities leaves the day wide open. Rather than un-cancel the previously cancelled plans with the other individuals I had already cancelled on, Andy and I decided to tackle the day together in exploration (my favorite hiking partner to enjoy the remains of summer with).

A few weeks ago, a new adventure buddy introduced me to the Silver Star scenic area in Washington. From atop Little Baldy’s crumbling summit and across a small valley, she pointed out the ridge top Ed’s trail, traversing its narrow, winding way towards Silver Star’s 4390 foot summit, amid lush green meadows and unique rock formations. 

We went there.

Road 4190 presented one interesting berm/wash to cross, and even my Subaru had mild issues with it. I am now well-acquainted with the smell of toasted rubber. Thank goodness the trail that is Ed's is in better shape than the road leading up to it. 

Ed's trail

Like the Bluff Mountain trail, Ed’s trail stays high among the countless flowers and tree-less ridge walks so characteristic of the Yacolt Burn area. About a half mile from the trailhead, the trail begins to traverse a steep hillside as it overlooks an open valley, and the expected eye-candy views abound. One portion of trail, just beyond the rock arch, requires the use of hands to scramble up the slope, including the use of a stout and well-positioned tree root, also known as "vegetable belay". 

rock arch on Ed's trail

trail? trail.

I do not particularly care for this kind of stuff. Sections of trail like this cause my vertigo to kick in with a vengeance, like a team of draft horses stomping on a whining puppy. Still, it's good to challenge oneself, and I’d rather climb up than down, so up it was. Prior to the rock arch, if one watches carefully, a side path jumps off from Ed's trail to join the Chinook Trail; an old jeep trail, the Chinook trail is much less narrow, and it parallels Ed’s trail on the opposite side of the ridge, eventually hooking up with the beginning of the hike. If conditions were wet or if one has small children, a better option might be to take the Chinook trail to Silver Star’s summit.

Silver Star from Ed's trail

Once atop our actual goal, we lingered, watching the clouds dance around in unseen wind patterns while Mount Hood played peek-a-boo with our cameras. Taking a relaxed pace out, we followed the Chinook trail through yet more meadows, Helens and Rainier as our constant companions. 

watching the clouds play

These are the reasons I live here.