Day 3: Coldwater Lake & Hummocks Trail
After a really goodnight of sleep I was ready to conquer another day out exploring the Volcanic Monument.We all piled back into the van ready to head back up to Mt. St. Helen’s to explore the trails and new lakes that had formed after the eruption.
First stop was the side of the road near one of the turn offs towards Coldwater Creek where there was a herd of elk hanging out in the sun. At one point some one thought it would be a really great idea to make an elk mating call to get the elk’s attention. Oh boy did it get the whole herd to pay attention! I believe the elk thought what the heck are these humans making elk mating calls at us for! Elk mating calls done by a human is horrible yet humorous at the same time.
Around lunch time we all hiked the Hummock Trail to view the hummocks leftover from the eruption in 1980. The trail winds through ponds, wetlands, and alder forests towards the Toutle River valley where the hummocks from the former summit of Mt St. Helen’s were deposited during the eruption. I ended up eating my lunch near a small creek running through the alder trees with the rest of the crew. When we all finally looped back to the parking lot, we headed for Coldwater Lake Recreation Area for exploring.
Coldwater Lake was not formed until after Mt. St. Helen’s eruption of 1980. For some reason I had the urge of find out where a trail going around the lake would lead and discovered it is the Lake’s Trail which weaves around the edge of the lake. This trail I had discovered weaves in and out of forests recovering from the blast of the 1980’s eruption. The lake below sparkled with the clear blue color of an alpine lake and the small island in the middle of the lake resembled the Wizard Island of Crater Lake.
Since the weather had been sunny, we headed up to Johnson Ridge Observatory to see the mountain again up close and maybe personal. St Helen showed some of her crater, but still kept some cloud cover higher up. While out on the viewing platform the wildlife around the observatory decided to play cute with our cameras. The golden mantel squarls are very photogenic and will pose for you when they want some of your trail mix.
Spending a good hour up at Johnson Ridge, we headed back down towards Iron Creek campground going the way between Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mt. Rainer National Forest. Once at the campground we realized how primitive the surrounding in the old growth Douglas fir forest was going to be for the night. This campground has outhouse toilets, no showers, and at the time, no running water. This meant some of us had to siphon and purify the water from Iron Creek-Cispus River for water to cook and drink. The firewood bought ended up being crap wood since it did not burn well, and at one point Duralog had to be use to keep the fire burning. With our tent spots being further away from the toilet, and a cougar spotted close by, it made an uneasy night for a few of us.
Iron Creek Campground