WA – North Cascades National Park, Hannegan/Copper Ridge Trails

After completing my trip to Sahale Glacier (link), I found myself once again at the Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount. I arrived at 6am and had the place to myself. It was sprinkling so I was happy to wait in my car. When the next car arrived they did the same. By the time the third arrived I checked in with them to see if they’d honor the line so we could all wait in our cars out of the rain. The answer was a resounding YES and in fact by the time the office opened there were 5-6 vehicles. A ranger put out a “take a number” box 5-10 minutes before opening. It would be helpful to do this much earlier, maybe even the evening prior. But alas, I was first in line and got the permit I wanted. Tip: The office in Marblemount opens at 7am whereas the one in Glacier, nearer this trailhead, doesn’t open until 8am. Both are open 7 days a week.

My fingers were crossed I’d get this permit as I needed to drive the 40 miles to Sedro Wooley to retrieve my replacement credit card, and it was conveniently on my way to the trailhead.

Initially the forecast indicated a clear day starting Monday but reality was a bit different.

I dilly dallied and made a second pot of coffee waiting to see if the storm would blow over.

I drove up Mt Baker and finally got enough signal to check the radar. I drove back to the Glacier Public Service Center to see if I could delay my permit by a day. Success!

So back up the Mt Baker Highway I went and caught a teaser of the mountain.

It was so beautiful on the mountain, I was looking forward to exploring further when I returned from my latest outing.

The next day the skies were looking much improved.

Bleeding hearts.


Not sure on the ID of this one.


I hadn’t seen this plant previously and have since learned it’s a dwarf fireweed.

Aster with morning dew.

Monkey flower.

First sighting of a black slug. Ewwwww, right?

It was nice to see evidence of recent trail maintenance.

Survey marker at Hannegan Pass.

Views from Hannegan Pass.

I couldn’t help but admire the texture and colors of this mountain. I learned later that this is Hannegan Peak. My plan was to summit on the day of my exit.

New wilderness for me.

Looking down at Hannegan Pass. To the left is Ruth Mountain, with Mount Shuksan in the middle and Hannegan Peak to the right.

I was so happy berries were finally ripening. In fact I believe berry picking saved me from a collision with a bear.

Insulator from old telephone lines.

Silesia Camp is on the top of this hill and would be my home for a couple nights.

There are two campsites at Silesia Camp. My first night I had the protected site without a view. The bonus was no condensation.

The second night I switched sites for this one with a view of Mineral and Whatcom Mountains. Initially I had the tent set up front and center but after the wind started gusting I relocated to the side. I was surprised by the amount of condensation I experienced.

It’s such a convenience having a bear box in camp.

Toilet with a view.

From camp I had great views of these mountains.

Morning light.

This helicopter made a few stops at Copper Ridge Lookout with parts for repairs.

The lookout is barely visible on the distant peak.

The trail to the lookout.

Copper Ridge Lookout

The butterflies liked my gaiters, I’m guessing they thought they were flowers.

Egg Lake is just below Silesia Camp. It’s the nearest water and is quite a descent followed by a stiff ascent. The lookout is on the ridge behind the lake. When I returned from the lookout I couldn’t resist stopping by for a swim. I was thrilled I had the lake to myself. It was deep, clean and a decent temperature.

Looking toward Hannegan Pass; Hannegan Peak is to the right.

Photo bombed by this beautiful creature. 

Going up Hannegan Peak

The amount of snow, ice and glaciers is quite amazing.

The ridges had open invites for further exploration.

So much eye candy.

Looking back up at Hannegan Pass as I’m returning to the trailhead.

You can see the transition up to Ruth Mountain.

I believe this was my first visit to the Mt Baker Wilderness. 

It was cool to find out part of the trail was shared with the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT). I met a few thru hikers. I wouldn’t want to hike the next section which includes 5 miles on the dirt trailhead road and 10 miles of paved Mt Baker Highway.

Adventure Date(s):

  • August 13-15, 2019

Hike Details:


  • Permits are required and can only be obtained either in advance from the recreation.gov site or from a wilderness office for same day or next day camping. Rangers are out and about checking permits.
  • This intimated me and as a result I chose not to hike the Copper Ridge Loop. I later found out the cart was broken and you can walk through the creek. I’m sure it could be challenging based on snowmelt.
  • Be prepared for biting flies and mosquitoes. I’d sprayed my outerwear, pack and screen on tent in advance with Sawyer’s Permethrin (Amazon link), and applied Picardin (Amazon link) to my skin when needed.
  • Dispersed camping is available on nearby USFS lands.
  • Set mouse traps in your car.



WA – North Cascades National Park, Sahale Glacier

OPEN OPEN OPEN. When I arrived at the Marblemount Wilderness Information Office at 6:30am I found about 10 others in line ahead of me awaiting the 7am opening. We were all hoping to secure a walk-up permit for North Cascades National Park where this is the game you must play for backcountry camping if you don’t want to reserve six months in advance.

Finally the doors opened. First up was a group of guys who’d been waiting since 5am. Soon enough two groups in front of me secured the spots I wanted. However, one benefit of living this flexible lifestyle was that I was able to delay my start by a day and thus was still rewarded with a permit to Sahale Glacier Camp. I spent the day taking care of chores and of course eating, including dealing with a fraud alert on my primary credit card. The fun of traveling was figuring out where and when to receive a replacement. This ended up being my best option, 40 miles away from Marblemount.

Finally it was time. When the trail looks like this, you know it’s gonna be a slow slog.

I got an early start and was welcomed by this friend.

These were so tiny and delicate. I’m guessing a type of penstemon.

Monkey Flowers

Looking back down from where I’d come.

I have a love/hate relationship with backcountry toilets like this one at Cascade Pass, especially when they involve more ascending. With the amount of traffic this trail sees I’m grateful to not see white butterflies and piles of human excrement.

Cascade Pass survey/benchmark post.

I was excited about this next section as I’d heard as it attracts much wildlife.

As if on cue, just 10 minutes later we spy this black fuzzy guy on the hillside. Of course, he’s decided to hang out between the switchbacks.

I think he was intoxicated from the flowers and berries he was happily consuming and had no interest in leaving his paradise.

We grouped up, encouraged him to leave but after a long wait we walked by on the high trail without incident.

I continued hiking but several others hung back wanting to savor this close encounter with nature. When I looked back I was surprised to see these guys with their backs to the bear. I think they were so wrapped up in the moment they didn’t realize what they’d done. We met one of these hikers later and found out the situation turned violent when the bear spied a marmot, pursued, killed and devoured his prey. Now that was a wild kingdom experience!

Back to nature’s beauty as the climbing toward Sahale Glacier continued.

Doubtful Lake, which I planned to visit as part of my exit hike the following day, plus a glimpse of Sahale Glacier, my destination for the night.

I didn’t take as many photos as I should have on the hike up to Sahale. After this section, the trail worked it’s way through scree and boulders at a much steeper grade.

Photography breathing breaks are essential.

The marmots weren’t very photo friendly on this trip.

There are only a couple places where you can see Mt Baker.

And finally, I arrived at Sahale Glacier Camp. From the trailhead, it took me a little less than 6 hours to hike these 6 miles with 4000′ of ascending.

Mike was planning on ascending the Glacier. I was his accountability buddy and enjoyed watching his progress.

The glacier is much larger than it appears. Mike is nothing but a tiny speck the lip of the snowfield and false summit.

I watched another person hike up with skis and make a couple runs.

This is from PeakFinder app.

Pooper with a view, no privacy and a trek requiring planning; wouldn’t want to wait until the last minute as it’s a bit of a rocky jaunt.

This photo shows the location of some of the premier campsites. Each of the three gray snow-free mounds just below the glacier hold single campsites.

I chose a campsite nearer the glacier and snowmelt. All the sites have nice rock walls as wind barriers.

With no shade around I was thankful for my umbrella. The sun was intense.

Water water everywhere but thankfully there was a breeze and bugs were pretty much non existent.

I spent way too many hours in camp. I regretted not bringing my microspikes so I could walk the glacier.

Sunset was incredible as the weather was a changing and the valley canyons filled with rolling fog.

First light from my tent.

Early morning visitors, only a pair and not even a little pesky.

First light on Johannesburg Mountain. Little did I know this would be the only sun I’d see all day. This was at 6am. My tent is in the middle and on each of the peaks to the left and right are occupied campsites.

PeakFinder app is so helpful.

I checked weather on my InReach to see if rain was headed my way. I wanted to know if the fog/clouds would burn off or if I best get off this exposed location. I’ve found the forecasts somewhat unreliable but with heavy rain predicted by 1pm, I decided I best heed the warning.

It was looking doubtful that I would visit Doubtful Lake on this gray chilly day.

This is the sketchy part of the trail with mixed slippery dirt, scree and boulders. Not my favorite type of terrain. If you look carefully toward the top of the photo you’ll see a couple just beginning their descent.

I didn’t want to drop into the cloud.

Looking back from where I’d come. You might be able to spy the couple descending behind me as colorful tiny dots.

Run marmot run, don’t let that bear get you.

Sahale Mountain to the left, with Doubtful Lake in the lower middle.

Oh Doubtful Lake how I wanted to visit you but you’ll have to wait for a nicer day.

Down down down I go, descending into the swirling clouds.

Finally I was back into the forested switchbacks where I was hoping for some ripe berries.

It seems I finally found worked my way out of prime wildflower season. There were still some around but not in the quantities I’d experienced a few weeks earlier.

Adventure Date(s):

  • August 8-9, 2019

Hike Details:


  • Permits are required and can only be obtained either in advance from the recreation.gov site or from a wilderness office for same day or next day camping. Rangers are out and about checking permits. Mine was checked twice. If you are planning on being an early arrival, check at the door for a number system. The first day the numbers weren’t out. The second day it was raining and we were waiting in our cars. About 15 minutes before opening they put out a box with numbers. It was much more efficient but they should put them out much earlier.
  • This was a great option for WiFi, as was The Eatery.
  • Lots of options can be found in Sedro Wooley; Lorenzo’s was recommended by a friend.



WA – PCT Section L . . . as in Lots to Love (Harts Pass to Rock Pass)

Piece by piece maybe someday I’ll complete Section L. In 2016, I only made it 8 miles north of Rainy Pass before I had to turnaround due to tendonitis in my shin (link). I landed in Mazama after completing a hike in Glacier Peak Wilderness, including a small piece of Section K (link), in need of a weekend adventure that wasn’t overcrowded.

Wildflower happiness.

Ptarmigan or grouse.

Long traverses.

Hello mountains, what beautiful texture you wear.

I couldn’t help but reminisce about a previous trip into the Pasayten Wilderness (link).

The trail was in good shape following fires the previous year. Thankfully it was a fairly short stretch.

Rock Pass campsite.

First light.

As I hiked through the area, I couldn’t help but visualize the terrain covered in snow as the southbounders experience it during their 30-mile hike to the border and back from Harts Pass. These photos illustrate the dangers and severe consequences. Definitely adds an element of eh gads to the beginning of their journey.

Slate Peak Lookout.

Just a short drive from Harts Pass is Slate Peak Lookout. Upon my return to the trailhead, I drove to the lookout parking area and then hiked up to the Lookout. This is the view of the lookout from the PCT.

There were a couple of nearby ridges worthy of a hike. I would have loved to explore this one but alas I had places to go.

The interpretive signage was helpful, especially showing peak names. I was surprised to learn the peak on the right was Jack Mountain. I hiked around that mountain a couple years previous (link). That’s snow-covered Mt Baker between the Jack and Crater Mountains.

Adventure Date(s):

  • August 3-5, 2019

Hike Details:


  • Register just past the trailhead for wilderness overnight stays.
  • There are three places to park for Hart’s Pass Trailhead access. I recommend passing the ranger station, and the restroom only parking area to the trailehad only area.
  • Mice seem to be a problem everywhere in Washington, and they seem to like to break into my car.
  • There were lots of bees out enjoying the flowers also. I tend to have quite the reactions. I think this was Day 2 and it stung through my shirt. It kept growing for a couple more days.
  • Be prepared for biting flies and mosquitoes. I’d sprayed my outerwear, pack and screen on tent in advance with Sawyer’s Permethrin (Amazon link), and applied Picardin (Amazon link) to my skin when needed.
  • Mazama, Twisp and Winthrop are good resupply locations
  • Dispersed camping is available on nearby USFS lands.



WA – Glacier Peak Wilderness, Spider Gap / Buck Pass Loop (Part 2 of 2)

I ended Part 1 (link) at the Cloudy Pass PCT junction.

I was tired and still had some miles to hike before I’d reach my evening destination. I must have still had a bit of energy though as I took a few photos.

A friend recommended I spend the night at Image Lake so I could experience the Glacier Peak sunset.

What a traversing trail. There were lots of flowers mixed in with what looks like grasses.

Image Lake

The camping is far from what I’d choose. No view of the lake and instead campsites hidden in the trees to protect this fragile area that has been over loved. It took everything I had to hike from camp to the far end of the lake to watch sunset. I joined a couple of other motivated photographers. The skeeters were horrendous making it hard to capture a mosquito-free photo. I knew I should wait longer to catch best color but when the others grew tired, I joined them on hike back to camp.

At least I had a view of Glacier Peak from my campsite. The designated areas where overflowing and I grabbed this space on the perimeter. As expected I was drowning in condensation by morning.

The next morning I hiked to Miner’s Ridge Lookout.

This is year #5 for Russ volunteering as caretaker of the Lookout. He’s been spending much of his time restoring the lookout. What he’s accomplished is impressive. He lives here about two months each summer, joined occasionally by his wife, Kelly, and other family members. I heard his grandkids were helping out a couple weeks ago. If you hike in from the Suiattle Trailhead, you’ll find a bucket asking if you would help shuttle supplies such as nails or screws. Also consider bringing him a gift of fresh vegetables or fruit.

Views were very hazy and I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a new fire start or if this was the smoke blowing in from the fires in Alaska and Canada. Russ was on the radio when I arrived. There was a fire in the Devore Creek drainage between Stehekein and Holden; it was 100 acres as of that morning.

I decided to hike the loop. Not the brightest decision as it included bonus descending and ascending miles, in less than beautiful conditions. I would have enjoyed repeating the green traverse instead. I should have hiked the higher trail around Image Lake.

This waterfall was especially refreshing. I met Russ and Kelly again here where we both took a break and enjoyed more chatting. Russ also manages Image Lake, including the backcountry toilets. On this day, after their duties they were out for a hike to an area new to Kelly.

Finally I was back on the PCT. Loved meeting thru hikers who were happy to celebrate “PCT grade.” The loop I was hiking was definitely NOT PCT grade.

As they say all good things must end. Sadly within an hour, it was time to exit the PCT for the steeper terrain of the Buck Creek Pass Trail.

I was glad I’d taken this photo the previous night as on this day the image was filled with smoke haze. I believe the chute to the left leads up to Spider Gap and Lyman Lakes. My Peakfinder App wasn’t working so I’m guessing here based on my topo map. I think the mountain to the left is Dumbell Mountain and the one to the right is Fortress Mountain, which the trail skirts around the front.

I always say things happen for a reason. This trail is very populated, with many more hikers than I like, especially at camps. I happened upon this solo campsite at just the right moment. I had a fantastic view of Fortress Mountain, a nearby creek, and the best sleep of the trip.

The skies cleared and from my campsite I had this nice view of the Miners Ridge Trail I’d hiked on my way to Image Lake. I think it would be fun to hike the actual ridge.

The next morning I was entertained by these clouds. Did they foretell a change of weather?

As I hiked toward Buck Creek Pass, I was reminded of how lucky I was to have gotten a clear view of Glacier Peak the previous day.

Monkey Flower

A little different perspective of lupine.

My goal was to claim one of the three campsites at Buck Pass before spending a few hours hiking up Liberty Cap Mountain. If you look closely you’ll see the switchback trail going up the open green area. The areas appearing brown are really lupine and other wildflowers.

The lupine meadows were overwhelming. That’s Helmet Butte in the background.

I was in my element! Plentiful flowers mixed with mountains galore. I enjoyed seeing another side of Glacier Peak.


I forget what these are called. They are one of my favorites with their intense color.

Learning there was water not far from the pass, in fact on the way to the Liberty Cap trail, made it possible for me to spend the day exploring the area. This spring is probably the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. The overflow creek was edged with this greener than green turf.

It was so soft.

There were a few of these tiny flowers interspersed.

Pretty sweet view.

Watching sunrise is my favorite time of day. I sure felt lucky getting to experience the mountain minus clouds.

This was my least favorite part of the loop. I’m still not sure whether I would have preferred to have gotten this section out of the way in the beginning and ended with my favorite parts. I wouldn’t have wanted to climb through the hot overgrowth area so I guess in that way I’m glad I completed as a counterclockwise loop. As they say, pick your poison.

Although few of the berries were ripe, it was surprising to see fall color in a few places.

There was a sign at the trailhead indicating the bridge was out. It was very functional and thankfully not flagged closed. The stream crossing would have been easy; getting up the bank might have been challenging.

Much of the trail below the burn area was extremely overgrown with berry bushes.

The umbrella made getting through the burn and berry areas much more tolerable. It was humid and hot.

I was also glad my car was parked at the trailhead. I wouldn’t have wanted to tackle the 3-mile road walk after already being overheated. However, there is a creek near the Buck Creek Trailhead where you can clean up and/or cool off. Highly recommend!

Adventure Date(s):

  • July 27-31, 2019

Hike Details:


  • Register at the trailhead so the trails continue to get funds allocated for maintenance, etc.
  • Be prepared for biting flies and mosquitoes. I’d sprayed my outerwear, pack and screen on tent in advance with Sawyer’s Permethrin (Amazon link), and applied Picardin (Amazon link) to my skin when needed.
  • Leavenworth is a decent resupply and WiFi location. Can you tell I was craving vegetables?
  • There is dispersed camping opportunities available near Leavenworth in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
  • I found a $3 shower at a local fitness center.
  • When there isn’t a nearby laundromat or you don’t have enough to justify a load, shower laundry is great and the dashboard works as a drying rack.
  • Set mouse traps in your car at the trailhead!  Mouse 1, Jan 1.
  • Squirrel Tree Restaurants at Coles Corner was a worthy stop that filled my belly and made me happy.



WA – Glacier Peak Wilderness, Spider Gap / Buck Pass Loop (Part 1 of 2)

Following the map north after my jaunt through Goat Rocks (link), I stopped at Mt Rainier hoping for a walk-up permit to spend some more time near or around the Wonderland Trail, which I hiked in 2014 (link). Well luck was not with me on this day. The ranger talked me into a Plan B but when I saw the sign warning against car vandalism, I thought better. Next in line was Glacier Peak Wilderness. I hiked through this area on the PCT in 2016 (link) but sadly Mother Nature kept me from seeing much of the mountain. So maybe just maybe this would be my opportunity.

A friend recommended I park at the Trinity Trailhead and hike the 3-3.5 miles to the Phelps Creek Trailhead. Thankfully I was offered a ride for the last couple miles.

Flowers kept me entertained as I began my climb.

Soon enough I was in Spider Meadow surrounded by granite walls and wildflower-filled meadows.

Oh the sound of waterfalls racing off the granite walls.

My destination for my first night was just below Spider Gap.

Can you imagine the glacier that raced through here carving these great walls?

Fireweed left as evidence of a past fire.


Thistle and Indian Paintbrush.

Looking back at Spider Meadow and first larch trees. I’m sure this would be just as beautiful in the fall.

First view of Spider Glacier, my challenge for the next day. Look at the bottom and you’ll see the tiny person.

Can you find my tent?

I found these tiny flowers near my campsite.

The view of Spider Glacier from my tent. Would I have sweet dreams or nightmares about the next day’s climb?

I found a comfy slab of granite to snuggle in my sleeping bag and watch sunrise. According to Wikipedia, “Spider Glacier is .50 mi (0.80 km) long but very narrow at only 50 ft (15 m) in width.”

Before ascending, I stopped to check out the crack from which water was flowing.

I watched many hikers ascend the glacier the previous day, most without any traction devices. I knew I’d conserve more energy by wearing the microspikes I’d brought along. I can say, I had no regrets about lugging that extra weight as I climbed in the early morning hours on frozen sun cups.

Waterfalls decorated the walls.

And then I was nearly at the false summit. I’d been alerted the previous night by a group who’d climbed to gap and glissaded back down to camp.

The final push after the false summit.

I was proud of myself of making it up the climb.

Now to get down the other side, to Lyman Lakes. You can see the path on the right bank. I was told, just say NO! It’s really an animal track and ends on an abrupt cliff. Once again I was happy to have my microspikes. I just descended through the snowfield. What a beautiful basin.

The next important navigation tip was to stay to the right as you exit the snowfields, otherwise you’ll find yourself cliffed out.

Looking back up at the snowfield I’d descended.

I found some new flowers in the basin. These may be the dying phase of elephant heads?

Elephant Head Orchid.

Three mop heads standing in a row, E I E I E I O.

Upper Lyman Lake

Lower Lyman Lake. In retrospect I should have ended my day early and camped near the outlet of Lower Lyman.

These are shallow lakes with significant glacial flour.

Beautiful new bridge at Lower Lyman. I for one was grateful I didn’t have to ford the raging creek.

I stopped at the outlet for a dip, but since it was only 12:30pm, I wasn’t ready to call it a day.

So instead of relaxing and enjoying sunset on these beautiful lakes, I continued onward to Cloudy Pass.

Looking back at Lyman Lakes and Spider Gap.

Lupine love.

First view of Glacier Peak.

Working my way through the boulder field. This was part of the PCT fire closure in 2018.

WooHoo, I found the PCT! Since this post is getting long, I’ll continue the loop in anther post (link to Part 2).

Adventure Date(s):

  • July 27-31, 2019

Hike Details:


  • Register at the trailhead so the trails continue to get funds allocated for maintenance, etc.
  • Be prepared for biting flies and mosquitoes. I’d sprayed my outerwear, pack and screen on tent in advance with Sawyer’s Permethrin (Amazon link), and applied Picardin (Amazon link) to my skin when needed.
  • Leavenworth is a decent resupply and WiFi location. Can you tell I was craving vegetables?
  • There is dispersed camping opportunities available near Leavenworth in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
  • I found a $3 shower at a local fitness center.
  • When there isn’t a nearby laundromat or you don’t have enough to justify a load, shower laundry is great and the dashboard works as a drying rack.
  • Set mouse traps in your car at the trailhead!  Mouse 1, Jan 1.
  • Squirrel Tree Restaurants at Coles Corner was a worthy stop that filled my belly and made me happy.



WA – Goat Rocks Wilderness, Goat Ridge / Snowgrass Flats Loop (Part 2 of 2)

After a phenomenal day of reversing the regret of not visiting Goat Lake during my 2013 jaunt, I was excited to reunite with my old friend the Knife’s Edge (Continued from Part 1)

Not a bad morning view, well except for the fact I was a bit worried about the weather given the day I had planned.

Good morning Mt Adams.

Goat Lake and Mt Rainier.

First light on Goat Lake.

Knife’s Edge on the PCT

This section lives high on my list of favorite memories. I was looking forward to hiking it as an out and back, double-dose happiness.

Memory is a funny thing. I don’t remember this rock field.

Ah, there’s that beautiful ridge, but I seemed to have forgotten all the up and down and up and down and various trail surfaces.


Looking back at where I’d come and where I’ll get to go again. Hello Old Snowy, I’ll skip the summit but shall never forget witnessing a proposal during my last visit. 

The views were as incredible as I remembered.

And then I found the goats.

It was great to experience the views with snow as my previous visit was in September.

This rock was my favorite to walk on. It sounds like wind chimes or broken china. I took a video during my first hike. Of course in my mind the whole section was made of this material and it was just a flat ridge. Oh memory oh memory, you are not my strength.

There is always a question of taking the high or low route. The low, or official PCT and stock rock across Packwood Glacier, comes with it’s own challenges. The high, Old Snowy route, provides views but is exposed and can be sketchy in bad weather. Of course on my way out I took the high route for the views. On the way back I really wanted to take the shorter low route but had heard mixed opinions with the majority saying they thought they might die and don’t recommend. So I elected to put forth more energy by climbing back up and over. The low route takes you across three snowfields and through several scree fields. If you look closely at the photo you can see where the path’s diverge.

My evening was spent watching fog envelop Goat Lake. It was a constantly moving ghostly figure covering and exposing only to change shape once again.

The clouds surrounding Mt Adams were putting on quite a different show.

Hello Mt Adams, where did you go? Will it rain? Nope! Just free entertainment, so much better than television.

I decided I best check the weather forecast on my InReach, such a great feature. Thankfully the precipitation/snow prediction did not come true. Temperature dropped to 34 in my tent, quite a contrast to 49 the previous night.

But this was my 6:30am view.

Would it burn off? How long might that take? I didn’t wait around to find out. It was time to get off this ridge.

The low visibility really made the flowers pop.

The Dr. Seuss-ish flowers looked like mop heads.

Soon enough it was time to descend on the Snowgrass Trail. It is touted as wildflower heaven. Will it surpass what I’d already experienced?


Adventure Date(s):

  • July 22-24, 2019

Hike Details:


  • Mt Adams Cafe in Randall had great food, customer service and WiFi. Showers and laundry were available at Packwood RV Park.
  • I highly recommend treating your outerwear including hat, shoes, pack and tent screen with Sawyer Permethrin, and then using Sawyer Picaridin as needed. The combination really keeps the mosquitoes and biting flies at bay.
  • I got another mouse in my house at the trailhead. I recommend setting traps with peanut butter.




WA – Goat Rocks Wilderness, Goat Ridge / Snowgrass Flats Loop (Part 1 of 2)

In 2013 I hiked through Goat Rocks as part of my first solo PCT jaunt (link). I left with the regret of not taking time to visit Goat Lake. I was excited to find myself in the vicinity to make this wrong right. This trip started at the Berry Patch trailhead.

I hiked the loop clockwise starting with the Goat Ridge Trail.

The first stretch wasn’t photo worthy except for these frogs. I love frogs, so no complaints from me.

As I climbed higher, I found some blooms.

Dr. Seuss flowers gone wild.

And then I found the reason I returned.

Hawkeye Point

I decided to add in a little extra credit climb. The bonus was getting to see how Goat Rocks use to be one mountain. Hard to imagine it as an extinct volcano, once part of the Cascade chain.

Goat Peak and Mt Adams

Mt Rainier was visible also.

I turned around at the saddle, not wanting to descend just to ascend for a tiny bit better view. Regret? Nope!

Loved these tiny belly flowers I found at the saddle.

Goat Lake

The namesake goats were high above the lake.

The melt was just beginning and oh that glacial blue.

The outlet of the lake creates a beautiful waterfall.

Pacific Crest Trail

The next section was transitioning from Goat Lake to the PCT. 

And then I made it to the PCT and got to camp at nirvana, the spot I’d wished for on my previous trek but my timing wasn’t right as I’d spent the previous night at Cispus Pass. On this night, I could say goodnight to Goat Lake and Mt Rainier.

Evening alpenglow.

Goodnight Mt Adams.

Far in the distance is Mount St Helens I’d visited just a week previous (link).

With the Knife’s Edge on the agenda for the next day, it warranted a separate post (Part 2). Here’s a teaser photo.

Adventure Date(s):

  • July 22-24, 2019

Hike Details:


  • Mt Adams Cafe in Randall had great food, customer service and WiFi. Showers and laundry were available at Packwood RV Park.
  • I highly recommend treating your outerwear including hat, shoes, pack and tent screen with Sawyer Permethrin, and then using Sawyer Picaridin as needed. The combination really keeps the mosquitoes and biting flies at bay.
  • I got another mouse in my house at the trailhead. I recommend setting traps with peanut butter.




WA – Mount St Helens, Mount Margaret

After a couple days along State Route 504 which led to the Johnson Ridge Observatory and hiking to Loowit Falls (link), I headed to the Forest Road 99 on the east side. I stopped at all the interpretative pullouts, taking short walkabouts to learn more about the eruption of 1980. Seeing the physical remains of this car was a visual reality, even more amazing was the condition of the tires and vehicle given both the event and the elapsed 39 years. I don’t think a car of 2019 would be this recognizable.

Meta Lake

Windy Ridge

It’s hard to resist the temptation to climb the 368 steps for the 360-degree views.

Looking down at Spirit Lake.

The mountain still didn’t want to give me a clear view.

I enjoyed listening to the ranger talks.

Norway Pass Trailhead

As the trail climbs to Norway Pass, you get a nice glance back at Meta Lake.

The log mat on Spirit Lake becomes more obvious as you continue to climb.

This is the Crater Glacier which changed significantly after the 1980 eruption. According to a USGS publication, “October 1980 to 1986— Over the course of 17 episodes, lava eruptions began filling the crater, building a lava dome that reached 876 feet above the crater floor. Since 1986, snow and rock accumulating in the deep, shaded crater formed Crater Glacier, the youngest glacier on Earth. October 2004 to January 2008—Growing lava domes displaced and then divided Crater Glacier into east and west lobes. The ice lobes moved downslope as fast as 6 feet per day, converging below the lava dome a little more than three years later.”

I believe this is Mount Margaret, but it’s such an indistinct peak, it was hard to discern. One of the interesting things about this photo also is that it shows the number of trees still standing after nearly 40 years. Plus look at all the new trees!

Although it’s a low snow year, it was great to see remaining snow patches. I wasn’t able to secure a backcountry camping permit which would have had me camping on the other side of the ridge. I liked this view of Mt Rainier, Boot Lake and the Lakes Basin. If you look closely you can see the pick-up-stick trees still lying helter skelter from the blast.

I continued a bit past the Mt Margaret trail junction to see Saint Helens Lake.

My curiosity led me to find some goats.

There was one quite sketchy section of trail. This would have been a turnaround for many hikers. I met a WTA trail crew who’d been working on another section and said they fixed this up a bit when they came through and hoped to do a bit more on their exit. The section not quite visible between the dirt and granite was the worse.

It was great to be able to say thank you personally to each of the crew working hard to improve trail conditions.

I was glad to see the many wildflowers.

Before and after of the Dr. Seuss flower (aka Western pasqueflower).

I also had views of Mount Adams, which a friend just happened to be climbing the same day.

With smoke from fires in Alaska and Canada making the skies hazy, distant views were somewhat limited but I found Mt Hood.

Adventure Date(s):

  • July 20, 2019

Hike Details:Tips:

  • Dispersed camping on the east side is easier as most of Road 26 is in the Gifford Pinchot Forest rather than the park.
  • If heading north, Mt Adams Cafe in Randall had great food, customer service and WiFi. Showers and laundry were available at Packwood RV Park.
  • Love their reminders.
  • Nice to have water at the trailhead, but eh gads it was hard to turn, more so in the afternoon than morning.



WA – Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument, Loowit Falls

May 18, 1980 What do you remember about this event? Honestly my memory banks couldn’t recall many of the details. For those with a memory like mine, here’s a quick link from USGS, 30 Cool Facts about Mount St Helens. The Monument was established in 1982 to provide for scientific research, education and recreation. It’s another managed by the USFS.

Mount St Helens last erupted 123 years ago. It’s the most active volcano in the Cascade Range.

There are three areas to visit, westside (State Route 504), southside (Forest Road 83) and eastside (Forest Road 99). My initiation was along State Route 504 where the Johnson Ridge Observatory is located, named after a scientist who perished in the blast. I arrived on a typical drizzly Pacific Northwest Day, more common in June than in mid July.

The mountain said, nope not today. Factoid: “Within 3 minutes, the lateral blast, traveling at more than 300 miles per hour, blew down and scorched 230 square miles of forest.” Source: USGS 

Okay maybe a peek at my peak. Factoid: “The largest terrestrial landslide in recorded history reduced the summit by 1,300 feet and triggered a lateral blast.”  Source: USGS 

I took a short hike on the Boundary trail focusing on the flowers.

Loowit Falls

The next day with much improved weather, I was off to find Loowit Falls.

Dropping down from the ridge into the blast zone reminded me of my Grand Canyon experiences. You have to drop into the belly to experience the hidden gems. It’s hard to imagine this area now known as Pumice Plain once a thick forest.

Loowit Falls are ON the mountain so I’d be crossing the Pumice Plain.

What looks like dried grass is actually a mossy wildflower carpet.


Just think, it took nearly 40 years to achieve this much growth. Reminds me of how slowly forests regenerate after extremely hot forest fires. Factoid: “Small plants and trees beneath winter snow, and roots protected by soil, survived the May 18, 1980 eruption and now thrive. Thousands of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and millions of hatchery fingerlings perished in the eruption. Late May 1980—Wind-dispersed spiders and scavenging beetles were among the first animals to return to the Mount St. Helens area. The landscape devastated by the eruption has evolved into a rich and diverse habitat for plants and animals.”

In fact some areas included thick bushes, predominantly Sitka Alder, streams, trees and more water loving flowers.

There were large tent caterpillar nests, in fact the largest I’ve ever seen.

Who was Harry Truman? I was hiking toward Harry’s Ridge and descending in the canyon on the Truman trail.

I assumed there must have been a President Harry Truman connection, but no, this was a very different Harry Truman.

This is Harry’s Ridge, which is said to offer the best views of Spirit Lake. I didn’t hike the ridge during this trip.

It was interesting to see newly formed ponds and water channel changes. The mounds are known as hummocks, created by earth blasted from the mountain. 

Geology was everywhere. I’m guessing this is a lava bomb.

You’ll find Loowit Falls in the middle of this photo. Factoid: “March 20, 1980—A magnitude 4.2 earthquake signaled the reawakening of the volcano after 123 years.”




When I started seeing white fur, my mind went to mountain goats. I couldn’t help but wonder.

As I neared the falls, why yes, I spied a goat.

Soon enough I found the herd.

Spirit Lake

When I saw the white on the lake, my first thought was ice. Given temperatures and snow levels, I was confused. Well sure enough it was floating logs, a so called log mat covering 40% of the surface with about 350,000 acre-feet of pyrolized trees. There is now 200 feet of sediment in the lake increasing the diameter nearly three fold. Harry Truman and his lodge are buried beneath that sediment. Factoid: “Prior to 1980, there were six camps on the shore of Spirit Lake: a Boy Scout camp (Columbia Pacific Council), a Girl Scout camp, two YMCA camps (Longview YMCA camp Loowit, and Portland YMCA camp), Harmony Fall Lodge, and another for the general public. There were also a number of lodges catering to visitors, including Spirit Lake Lodge and Mt. St. Helens Lodge; the latter was inhabited by Harry R. Truman, who became one of the volcano’s victims.”

I was curious about the source of the lake and found this from USGS,

Research suggests that Spirit Lake is an intermittent lake: it has been repeatedly dammed by volcanic material, filled to capacity with water, and at least partially drained due to dam failures causing several major floods and lahars down the North Fork Toutle River. It is believed that pyroclastic flows around 3,350 years ago first dammed the river to form the lake, and then it overflowed and was likely dammed again by debris avalanches prior to the May 18, 1980 eruption.

In early 1980, Spirit Lake was the source of the North Fork Toutle River. However, this changed when the 18 May debris avalanche deposit blocked the outlet of Spirit Lake, and caused the volcano’s newly formed crater to become the source of the river. The debris avalanche raised the surface elevation of Spirit Lake 64 m (210 ft) and filled its natural outlet to a depth of 84 m (276 ft). Without an outlet, runoff from rain and snow caused the lake level to continue to rise, which threatened to breach the unstable blockage.

In November 1982 a pumping station and pipeline were installed to regulate the rising level of Spirit Lake, while a tunnel was bored through bedrock to provide a permanent, stable outlet. Water released from the pump outlet fed into the North Fork of the Toutle River. In May 1985, the tunnel connecting Spirit Lake and South Coldwater Creek was opened.

This photo I took from a hike up Mount Margaret does a better job showing the log mat. It’s hard to imagine the blast caused an 800 foot wave that pushed water and debris over Johnson Ridge. So many questions, did Johnson Ridge exist before the blast? Did the height change?

You can zoom this photo to see the location of Harry’s Lodge.

There were plenty of reminders that this is an active study area.

Adventure Date(s):

  • July 17-18, 2019

Hike Details: Tips:

  • This was one of those places where there aren’t public lands near the trailheads on the Johnson Ridge side. It makes for nearly impossible dispersed camping. Backcountry camping permits are tough to obtain. I stayed at Seaquest Campground. While spendy for my budget, at least they have forested semi-private campsites. The biggest issue is that you cannot get a walk-up permit until after 2:30pm. Sites are priced based on popularity. It’s a 50-mile drive from the campground to Johnson Ridge so not something I wanted to do daily. One b..onus however is that they do have showers.
  • I stopped at the Visitor Center in Castle Rock. The rangers were knowledgeable and helpful with getting basic maps and hiking trail info. The interpretative displays require a fee separate from your Park Pass. Save your money and time for Johnson Ridge.
  • It’s worthwhile spending time at the Johnson Ridge Observatory. I found the film very informative.
  • Loved their cartoon reminders.





WA – Columbia River Gorge, Cape Horn Trail

As I traveled north from Oregon, I was excited to reconnect with my friend Petra who was spending a few weeks in the Gorge. She’d been wanting to hike the Cape Horn Trail and I was happy to accompany her.

The trail was a variety of ecosystems. The wooded sections were my favorites.

There are several viewpoints to enjoy overlooks of the Columbia River including this one decided to long-time promoter Nancy Russell. According to the Washington Trail Association, “The top of Cape Horn was originally planned as a subdivision in the 1980s. As the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area was not in place, there was no legal way to stop the development. So in 1983, Friends’ Founder Nancy Russell and her husband Bruce Russell took out a loan from a bank and made a no-interest loan to the Trust for Public Land (TPL), enabling TPL to buy 12 of the 16 lots, effectively stopping the subdivision.”

Each year from February 1st to July 15th, the lower section of the Cape Horn trail has a seasonal closure for nesting peregrine falcons. It was July 16th, so we were some of the first to hike the lower trail this year. 

It was past peak for some wildflowers, but we found some beauties like this foxglove. With recent rains the area was quite humid.

Farewell to Spring (cool name)


There were lots of berries ripening including salmon and blackberries. There were also Oregon grapes.

There were a couple of very nice underpasses that have been built to avoid crossing over the busy road.

There were a couple waterfalls. Neither make the WOW list.

There I am tromping around looking for the right angle to photograph the falls while meanwhile finding some small blooming beauties. PC: Petra

There was obvious evidence of basalt both along the water and in the hills.

Adventure Date(s):

  • July 16, 2019

Hike Details: