Thursday, June 17, 2021
We were on our way to Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument by 7:00 AM. As we left the campground and got on the highway below is the view we saw of the sky!
On our way, we stopped at Coldwater Lake. The lake was created from the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980. It is located in the heart of the blast zone in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. We parked and walked the Birth of a Lake Interpretive Trail. The path has interpretive signs that explain how the eruption of Mt. St. Helens debris avalanche dammed the Coldwater Creek that created the lake! The lake was very clear and we noticed beautiful flora!
We arrived at the Johnston Ridge Observatory but it was closed so we walked around the area and the trails nearby. It was an eerie feeling when you know that it is still active. If the Visitor center had been opened we would have been able to see the functioning seismograph and the live feed of current activity of Mt. St. Helens.
Below is a picture of what was left of an ancient forest that was filled with 150 foot tall trees. The blast was so powerful and filled with debris that it struck this hillside traveling at 500 mph and stripped the trees of their limbs, bark and snapped the trunks so only these stumps were left!
The Mt. St. Helens Eruption Memorial is made of granite and lists the names of those killed on May 18, 1980 by the eruption of Mt. St. Helens.
After our visit to Mt. St. Helens, we headed to Mt. Rainier National Park. On our way we stopped at the overlook for Riffe Lake. The lake is a reservoir that was formed by Mossyrock Dam in 1968. The towns of Riffe and Kosmos no longer exist and their residents were relocated because the towns would be submerged by the lake.
We spent the afternoon and early evening at Mt. Rainier National Park!
Mt. Rainier is the tallest volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range and rises 14,410 feet and 25 glaciers extend down the mountainside. A lot of snow was still present.
There was still a lot of snow along the road and some trails. The snow was about 8 feet along the side of some roads.
The Kautz Creek Trail gave us more views of Mt. Rainier and the surrounding area.
A waterfall we passed in the park was Christine Falls. It was on the Van Trump Creek and was 69 feet tall. The higher tier had a 32 feet drop and the lower tier dropped 37 feet.
The Nisqually Glacier was located on the southwestern face of Mt. Rainier and because it was one of the larger glaciers it can easily be seen! With climate change, the glaciers are shrinking dramatically. One study stated that from 1971 to 2006 the Mt. Rainier lost 14% of its glacier cover. We have to wonder what the percentage of loss is today, fifteen years later.
Narada Falls has two tiers and its total height is 188 feet and its width is 50 feet. The trail down to the falls has a steep 200-foot descent. The path was narrow due to the snow and ice and it was extremely slippery. We needed our hiking poles which we didn’t have with us for traction! Of course the best viewing is from the bottom. It was too dangerous for us to make it all the way down so our pictures are from the top. We read online that later in the summer the snow and ice will be gone.
Our next stop was the Paradise Inn and Visitor Center. It was busy at this stop. The Park Rangers were stationed outside the Visitor Center which was closed due to Covid-19 but the restrooms were available. It was fun to watch people throwing snowballs in shorts and t-shirts, we saw people sledding down small hills while using their jackets as sleds, and hikers carrying their skis and snowboards to hike and ski!
The Reflection Lakes were still snow and ice covered. We could see a little of the water as we walked around the area. It is a popular area for photographers because of Mt. Rainier’s reflection in the water. There wasn’t any reflection happening when we were there! LOL
There was snow drifts that had trees bent over and buried and you could see how the wind and snow stripped trees and bent them so that the trees are at a slant.
We drove the Stevens Canyon Road which is 19 miles long and it is only open seasonally. It was a beautiful drive and we saw more waterfalls in the canyon.
Along Stevens Canyon Road there is Box Canyon. There is a short trail that we did. Box Canyon is a 180-foot deep, 13-foot wide chasm in the rock that the Cowlitz River flows.
Falls Creek Falls was also along the Stevens Canyon Road.
It was a long day with visiting Mt. St. Helens National Monument and Mt. Rainier National Park but we enjoyed every minute!