Initially, we made a stop at the Mt. St. Helens Visitors Center, which was still almost 50 miles away from our next stop, much closer to the (what used to be a) peak, at Johnston Ridge Observatory. The touristy vibes were present at the trailhead and info center, but a short walk onto the trails immediately offered a bit more solitude and space for our own adventure. At this point, the buds had taken a good effect. The Washingtonian cannabis candies were just as pleasant as the weather. Some of the group needed to head to the car for other supplies, and so Chloe and I branched off on our own walk. The deceiving view of Mt. St. Helens made the mountain seem so close to us, but after some time moving on our feet, we began to realize the distance on the range, the sheer size of the mountain and how quickly the views changed for us.
The trail(s) slowly morphed from easy walking on paths long, wide & flat to a mountainside cliff strip with no protection from an easy fatal fall straight down into deep canyons and rocky spires. At certain points of the trail, it was necessary to keep handholds with each step, which was surprising after seeing the amount of people on these trails (who seemed like casual hikers). I was in my (very) skated etnies and had a good bit of adrenaline activated in me by the apparent risk at hand. And then… The path widened and turned around the sharp ridge to reveal an astounding view of Spirit Lake and Mt. Adams in the distance. The view of Mt. St. Helens from the very same spot was the best it had been yet. It was the place we decided to stop to relax and admire this nature.
The feeling of being a this place, physically, was exactly what I had been needing (over the last 6 weeks or so) to release any anxiety, pressures of work or social life and simply any questions I’d been avoiding internally. A moment to reflect, without a reason to do anything, a need to do anything or mobile reception to share any of it (at that time). Just some conversation with my girlfriend (mainly to express our amazement) followed by silence. Moments like these are the ones I read about in novels and dream about at home in the city. It’s pleasant to reflect on them (as I’m doing now), but to truly know and appreciate them is to fully and purely appreciate the moments as they unfold in those pockets of time. The ones we can’t recreate in totality. I can see Virtual Reality, as a whole and industrial sector, recreating many experiences for human beings in positive ways, but I truly can’t imagine a piece of technology reforming the feeling we shared together on that mountain ridge at Mt. St. Helens, that day, the last day of July in 2016. No words can describe that emotion, hence the only people full understanding these words are the ones who have experienced such.
At first, I was scrambling for water to avoid dehydration but then immediately was drawn into his talk. I learned that Spirit Lake had been completely moved and transformed from one of the slabs of mountain crashing into it back in 1980, sending huge volumes of water uphill and into a separate reservoir, completely changing the natural landscape of the area. I learned just how destructive the natural disaster, and most sadly, how the vast majority of those killed that day were visiting outdoorsmen and women enjoying their hiking, climbing, canoeing, etc. It was blowing my mind how something so sad could create something so impressive and majestic as what I was deeply and happily admiring just 30 minutes prior. The weed candies helped with these face-melting realizations, and just as those thoughts entered my head, I looked back to discover that our entire group’s jaws were dropping just as far as mine was. The area around Mt. St. Helens truly inspired me and made me even more grateful for our planet (and aware of its capabilities). And I didn’t even experience SO much of what the area has to offer.
I will need to make a return sometime in the next decade, if it IS in its current state. The mountain is still an active volcano, and although FEMA has correctly predicted over a dozen earthquakes since 1980, there has not yet been a prediction of or an actual volcanic eruption. A reminder that, simply, anything is possible and that another sad sad thing could happen again, even when the risk is public information.
The drive home was comical, mostly because of the pleasant high. I don’t know how else to say it but Hell Yeah. It was a great day. Probably the longest one of the trip. But more than worth it. Getting to know my girlfriend’s family a bit better, taking the time for some road trip book reading and witnessing the raw beauty of nature I’d yet to see. All things add up to a wonderful experience and another chapter of
- 7Ply Epic