Sometimes, life throws you curve balls. When curve balls come flying my way, I look to the mountains. There is something elusive yet incredibly therapeutic about just walking for hours, about giving it all back to the earth, letting that which is so much bigger than you absorb it all back. (Too hippie? Ah, well, I’m waxing poetic tonight).
I won’t try to explain what I mean, not in too many words. It’s kind of one of those things that either does or doesn't work for you (fellowTrail Snail blogger describes the therapeutic power of endorphins the backcountry offers far better than I ever could, so check her out if you want a detailed and beautiful journey of what the wide-open world can bring).
Lately, I’ve been working out a few curve balls, and life recently took a stab at a friend, so an early week hike found us both hightailing it to the high country for some mountain therapy.
Originally from Colorado, J.B. is adjusting to “Pac Northwest” weather (aka rain and clouds vs. perma-sunny skies). Our recent, surprise burst of sunshine and warm temps was too good not to take advantage of so we headed to Mount Saint Helens for some alpine, blast-zone therapy.
|Helens from the Devil's Elbow|
New to the area, I warned J.B. that some people don’t particularly care for Helens. She’s a stark, decimated landscape… my experience is that people either find the area to be beautiful and intriguing or dirty and boring. Obviously, Helens is one of my favorite areas, and I love finding the beauty in that raw, devastated landscape through the changing of the seasons.
After a rough start to the morning that included lots of coffee and cinnamon rolls, we hit the trail from Johnston Ridge Observatory with no particular plan beyond walking and enjoying the views. Originally thinking to head up to Harry’s Saddle, instead we jumped down the Truman Trail and headed into the heart of the blast zone/north face landslide. It was a great decision- slightly warmer than higher up, we shed some layers and caught stellar views of Spirit Lake from the trail and surprise stalked a few elk herds along the way.
|Adams peeks over the Mount Margaret backcounty & Spirit Lake|
|J.B. takes it all in|
Everything this day was beautiful- the air was that perfect fall blend between cool-yet-warm-in-the-sun, the elk were out, the mountain had a new coat of white which contrasted nicely with the fall color and light on the barren landscape. Thanks to the government shutdown, we were the only people on the trail beyond the observatory (still technically open but no services in sight).
|Shadow shenanigans, Coldwater Peak in the background|
|the mountain's devastated, but beautiful, north face|