As advertised, this past weekend was spend making a jaunt into Seattle for a visit to REI on Saturday followed by a journey South and a bit East to Mt St. Helens for a mountain bike ride.
I believe I'd mentioned this coming weekend is a three-day weekend for me. My intent is to walk into the woods early Friday morning and not walk out until Sunday evening. I'll be headed to the Staircase area of Olympic National Park for some back country backpacking.
I needed a few odds and ends before this trip so Saturday I made way East via ferry to Seattle. For those not in the know, REI is not the only cool outdoor gear store. First I stopped at Outdoor Research. I'd been meaning to stop there for some time. I'd found my 25% off coupon from the Gear Up Expo in Everett and wanted to put it to use. If you've not been, go. It doesn't have a huge retail store (in Seattle at least), but, trust me - the trip will be worth it. You'll see.
Post Outdoor Research I did make it to REI and laid down triple digits $$$ on stuff I didn't even intend to buy. That store has that effect on me. Poorer, I now have everything I could ask for, for the backpacking trip this coming weekend.
Sunday I was up early to drive the 3.667 hours (three hours, forty minutes) to Mt St. Helens to meet Portlanders for a mountain bike ride. See, it was Uma's birthday, it was a mountain bike ride, and in a place I'd not been......how could I not go?
After the meet and greet we were off. And by off, I should explain. It's been a bit since I've been biking with much regularity. And, the bike with gears - the Ellsworth - is in the shop with a brake issue. I was riding the too-high-geared-for-this-ride Surly Karate Monkey single speed. Let's just say I was not going to be in contention for fastest biker.
This ride started as many rides do in the Pacific Northwest, in the woods and with a climb. The trail was in excellent condition.
After a bit the trees started to break and I was given my first look at Mt St. Helens proper.
Other great views included, but were not limited to Mt Hood.....
.... and Mt Adams.
But, the focal point keeping my mind off my heavy breathing and high heart rate was St. Helens.
As we climbed the harder packed dirt trail in the woods gave way to gravelly "cat litter (as described by Uma)" pumice volcanic rock stuff. More than 30 year after the eruption and there's vegetation but not much in the form of trees growing.
We started sort of in the opposite side of the mountain that the main blast direction was. We climbed up going around the mountain in a counter-clockwise direction. We ended up in the main blast area. Given the scenery and lack of vegetation, it's hard to wrap your mind around how powerful the eruption was - not too mention the sound it must have made. Wow.
I can only assume the rock cairns were exposed from eruption apparently left by aliens.
It was sort of like riding on the moon. Lunar thoughts brought on looney behavior. It was not long after we stopped when a juggling contest broke out.
The picture above of the juggling by me. But, the video below by Uma.
There are even remnants of trees indicating the blast path.
If you're ever in the neighbourhood, I highly recommend riding the trails at Mt St. Helens. Yes, there's climbing. But, the views will take your mind off that. I know I'll be back. But, I'll be back in better condition and with a bike with gears.
A huge thanks to riders Michael, Sam, Andrew, and Pace. A huger thanks to Uma for the invitation on her birthday ride.