Saturday, July 2, 2022

Hike: Coldwater Peak Trail via Boundary Trail, Johnson Ridge Observatory, MSH

AllTrails map
AllTrails map

Getting There

Take I-5 from Portland to Castle Rock. It's 55mi from Kenton to the exit 49.

There are a few gas stations to fill up here. 

It's 62 miles to the Johnston Ridge parking lot/trailhead and it takes about 1 hr (if you're going the speed limit ;). 

There's was dense fog in spots, so heavy that I put on my hazard lights to be more visible to cars coming up behind me.

This lot had quite a few cars compared to the last few visits. It was 4th of July weekend.

AllTrails map

The Hike

Length: 10.82 mi
Elevation gain: 2,365 ft
Moving time: 4:10:29
Total time: 4:43:00
Avg. pace: 23:09
Calories: 2,207

25,998 steps
42 zone mins
330 floors
3,758 calories

I really didn't plan on going up to Coldwater Peak. When I got junction for Harry's Ridge the fog was pretty thick.

I figured I'd see how far I could get. There are recent trail reports saying the snow was still making it difficult to follow the trail. I had microspikes and poles so I made a go of it. 

I passed a couple coming down the trail. Every time I see other hikes, it gives me confidence to keep going. The snow was minimal where I expected it. There were some patches but with good foot holes it wasn't any problem.

The only place I was nervous was near the Hole in the Rock. The foot holes weren't great and the slope was 40 degs and about a 50 foot slide into trees. I envisioned busted ankles or worse, esp. since there was a group of about 8 people on the lookout above.

I made it across safely and continued on my way. More hikers coming in the other direction.

I noticed virtually no one was were decent footwear. Mostly trail shoes. I kept my microspikes even on the dirt.

I keep an eye on the clock. I wanted to be heading back by 3pm. I was also weighing the fact that there were some challenges on the return trip, and my fitness level.

I reached the Coldwater Peak junction about like 3:10p. I rationalized that I could go until 3:30p. I started the final ascent. I passed a couple there were not prepared. No poles, or appropriate footwear. I made good progress until about a 1/3rd of the way up.

I saw a mountain goat in the bushes so stopped to look and assess my route. I was jumping switchbacks by climbing up the steep, muddy hillside. I noticed lots of poop and deep holes with vaguely recognizable hoof marks. 

Suddenly I caught a glimpse of a large buck in the direction I was heading. I instantly got a little spooked. I was definitely outmatched on this terrain, even with poles and microspikes. The buck looked imposing and glared in my direction.

As I retreated down the hill a bit, I realized the other goat I'd seen was trying to catch up with the buck. When I was far enough away, it ran to join the buck. There might have been others in the herd. The big buck keep an eye on me. 

It was now like 3:30p and I just didn't think it was worth reaching the summit. I started my descent. There was another solo hiker. I stopped to mention the buck. I reached the couple from earlier and told them as well and that it was long hike back.

My legs and knees were feeling good but I wanted the have plenty of sunlight. The fog was darkening up things quite a bit. I'm glad I had some extra layers.

By the time I reached the Harry's Ridge junction, it was pretty dark from the fog. To my surprise, there were still hikers heading out. It was about 4:45p.

The hills weren't bad, I made quick work of the first climb out and then the long series of hills back to the trailhead.

I made I back to the car at 6pm. I thought about the solo hiker and couple at Coldwater Peak. I hope their hikes back were okay.

Heavy fog to the south west

Saint Helens Lake

Mt St Helens

Saint Helens Lake

Mt Adams and corner of Spirit Lake

Mt St Helens

Hole in the Rock

Spirit Lake and Mt St Helens

Coldwater Peak and Saint Helens Lake

Saint Helens Lake

Mt St Helens, fog in the valley