Mount St. Helens from Coldwater Trail

Dispatches from the weekend: Waterfalls, hot springs, sunset views, and snowy summits on a no sleep, 3 tanks of gas kind of weekend.

Travel Talk

I’ve always struggled with posting stories here rather than more specific articles like trail guides and gear reviews. However, as my adventures have grown over the years, I’ve come to realize that without the regular updates you’re only getting a small part of my world. So, as we roll into summer, I’ve decided to take a page from a few of my friend’s blog and try my hand at sharing the journey… 

This weekend has had a little bit of everything. On one hand, it was all I could ask for in physical adventures with three active days on the trail and all I could ever want in views with so many different stops. It was also the weekend where I lost my phone for the first time (more on that later this week), drove enough to need a break from the car, and a couple naps to survive the week!

Mount St Helens Summit View, May 2017

It all started Friday with a late afternoon drive up to Mount St. Helens’ Marble Mountain Sno-park. Winter was so good to the west that the Helens climb is still running along the winter route with snow below 3,000’! Saturday started bright and early with an incredible climb up culminating in one of the best views I’ve had on Helens and without a doubt the best trek I mean slide back down. With all the snow out there, the mountain is currently offering something like 4,000 vertical-feet of glissading! Not only was the climb great but the other visitors out on the mountain were a blast with many people making their first summit to chat with on the way up, down and at the top. If you can find a permit in the next few weeks (check the weather of course), make it happen!

Mount Adams from the Helens Summit

Unfortunately, Saturday also ended with a bit of stupidity on my part as I left my iPhone in a parking lot restroom after changing. Still hopeful that it makes its way back to me (whoever found it, tweet, text or just drop it off at the forest service or at&t) but ugh! I may be use to going off the grid for a bit but talk about returning to the dark ages.

After a load of laundry and another trip for snacks (Banana Chips + M&Ms,+ PB&J = yes!), Saturday was over before the sun had set to get me ready for an even earlier Sunday start. 4 hours on the empty road with a printed map (seriously!) led me down to Umpqua National Forest and for some new sight exploring with a new adventure friend.

Toketee Falls from the Viewpoint

We started out with a stop at Toketee Falls which, despite its rather unassuming hike in, is simply incredible. There’s an unofficial / erosion prone but well beaten path to the bottom of the falls that many people go for as well to get a closer view. That trek is exposed, slick, and no place to take a fall (sharing things like this is always something I debate but we all pick our poison…) but certainly a big part of the draw.

Umpqua Hot Springs

After having the falls almost all to ourselves, we drove up the bumpy dirt road to Umpqua Hot Springs, made the short (but steep at points) hike up and wow! The place wasn’t empty but even with a few other groups out it easily put all the other hot springs either of us had seen to shame. Sure it’s man impacted and even has a shelter but it was done marvelously with over a half dozen pools at different temps to enjoy.

Silver Falls State Park - South Falls View

Sunday’s outdoor adventuring ended with a stop by Silver Falls State Park on the way back to Portland. With a completely packed parking lot and many hours already spent out hiking and driving, we didn’t stay long but even just a walk down to the South Falls (where you can experience the wonder of the backside of water!) was well worth the hour detour.

After two days of waking well before sunrise, sleeping until 9 on Monday was incredible but much as I tried to sit around and just work, the adventure itch would not stop calling! I did manage to sneak in several hours of productivity before jumping back in the car for the 2 hour ride up to the North side of Mount St. Helens so balance…. ya, that’s it!

Mount St. Helens from Coldwater Trail

Spring is rolling in nicely at Johnston Ridge and beyond though winter has not yet left completely. This made for a sharp contrast to the dry, barren landscape I experienced last time I drove up to the end of the road with so much green around the lower slopes and all the snow still lingering all around too! I originally planned for a hike out to Coldwater but a late start, basic gear, and plenty of snow kept me from getting quite up to the notch before I headed back down. Whatever, another incredible view and almost all to myself again!

Mount St Helens Sunset from Johnston Ridge

With moderate clouds and decent temps, I even stuck around until sunset which wasn’t all I had hoped for but gave me the chance for a different view. Also ran into a traveler in the midst of a 3-month road trip and got to dream about where to go next in my own world so double win.

Three tanks of gas and one very serious car wash later, just listing out the adventure has made for a far longer update than I had anticipated but how could I not share all of this with you!

Not only were the views great but it really was a weekend of fun people: meeting up with an Instagram friend, beers with new and old friends (forgot to mention Sunday night’s in town adventures I guess?!) and plenty of random conversations too… I’m not sure if the outdoors draw in great people or if leaving the hustle of the “real world” reveals the greatness of all of us but I’m sure glad I spent the weekend out and about.

And on a final note, a thanks to the Forest Service for powering just about every adventure here!

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