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.
Active Mins: 147
This was my 3rd hike for WTA's Hike-a-Thon and my 2nd visit here in '22. Last time I did the hike, I didn't quite make it to the top due to mountain goats and quite a bit of snow. I'd also gotten a late start and was pushing my limit on return time.
The Sunday weather was warm but virtually clear. I'd originally planned to hike to Loowit Falls but just before crossing under Harry's Ridge, I took a detour to Devil's Elbow to get a final look before I had to decide. I could see the waterfall or at least where it should be. I got a good look at the terrain and considered the temperatures, and opted to take a run at Coldwater Peak and get some elevation instead.
My previous visit was on July 2, 2022 and there were still large patches of snow. I wore microspikes from the Coldwater Lake Trail junction and beyond. Nearly two months later, I had dirt the entire way. I looked for the place where I met the mountain goats but it looked different without the snow and all the new vegetation.
At the summit, another hiker was having a snack so waved and kept going to the north end of top. I took off my pack for a bit and took some photos.
When I did the hike on July 8, 2021, a thick cloud bank had rolled in and enveloped the peak and valley below MSH. The weather had been clear on the hike out there. I waited up there for 10-15mins but it didn't budge. About 1/2 way down to the Boundary trail, the fog rolled out. I considered going back up but I needed to start heading back.
This time the weather was amazing. I could see all the Cascade Peaks: Mt Rainier, Mt Adams, Mt Hood, of course Mt St Helens.
On my descent I passed a couple that were heading to the top but looked tired. I tried to be encouraging and cheerful and mentioned that "the Man of the Mountain will keep them company". If they didn't know I was referring the hundreds of white pasqueflowers that were growing on the mountainside, it might have sounded like a creepy thing to hear from a rando hiker. LOL.
My visit wouldn't have been complete without a stop at Harry's Ridge. There was a couple top of the ridge, the woman taking photos. I meandered around for a bit and they eventually started on their way. I had the place to myself for awhile. A group of four were winding their way up the ridge but not quickly. I was so quiet and peaceful. Just the buzzing of a few flies, the blowing of the wind but nothing else.
|Selfie w/ Loowit|
|St Helens Lake & Mt Adams|