Mt. St. Helens & Mt. Rainier

Sunday–Friday, August 14–19, 2011
Leader: Jim Duncan
Ext Trp: (Moderate)

Concerns about the possibility of rain proved completely unfounded, as 20 Obsidians enjoyed a week of glorious weather for our extended camping and hiking trip to the Mt St Helens - Mt Rainier area. Our camp was in the North Fork Group campground, near Randle, WA. It’s a beautiful site, flat and shaded, and right next to the rushing waters of the North Fork of the Cispus River, which lulled us to sleep each night.

The best hiking proved to be on the NE side of Mt St Helens, and hikes to Loowit Falls, Norway Pass, Mt Margaret, the Plains of Abraham, and to Spirit Lake provided magnificent vistas of St Helens, Rainier, Adams, and Hood on most days. The variety and abundance of wildflowers in bloom on all these hikes was incredible. Most of us had never seen so much Indian paintbrush as well as broadleaf and dwarf lupines in bloom. The dwarf lupines dominate the sandy, ashy soil on the mostly barren shoulders of Mt St Helens, providing fields of purple to a desolate landscape. Flower identification was the order of the day, on the trails and back in camp.

We also planned to take on several hikes leaving from the Paradise area on Mt Rainier, but even in the third week of August, there was simply too much snow on the trails for good (safe) hiking there. Mt Rainier received over 900 inches of snow this year (several hundred inches above average, but not a record), and a lot of it remains. So, several hikes went at lower elevations on the mountain, including Snow Lake (where several of us ate lunch, and in turn, were eaten for lunch by the abundant mosquitoes), Grove of the Patriarchs, and Indian Falls. One hike into the Goat Rocks Wilderness area also ran into snow without reaching its ultimate destination. Several individuals took advantage of hikes leaving from, or close to, our campsite. As an added bonus, Effie Neth, who was not part of the extended trip, but who was camping on her own in the adjacent campground, joined us for three of our hikes.

As usual when Obsidians go camping, the food was delicious and abundant, thanks to the efforts of the crew chiefs who organized our five evening meals: Bea, Lana, Peter, Helen, and Nancy. They helped make the camp a success, and certainly no one went hungry. Sharon provided snacks for the happy hour that preceded dinner each night. Special thanks to Jim W for loading and hauling the propane, stove, and other kitchen essentials to camp in his truck – we truly couldn’t have done it without him. Thanks also to Judy T, Guy, Bea, Sharon, Lana and Richard for helping Jim W load and unload the truck at the lodge. Many people stepped up to lead hikes including Lana, Chris, Peter, Guy, Jim W, Joanne, and Jim D; a total of 11 organized hikes took place over the four hiking days, and several people went exploring on their own as well. Thanks also to the drivers who navigated interesting roads to get to the trailheads. Finally the success of any Obsidian trip depends on the personality of the group, and this was an amazingly congenial group. Everyone pitched in and helped around camp, and we all seemed to enjoy each other’s company, had lots of laughs, good food, great hikes, and loads of fun.

Members: Jim Duncan, Sharon Duncan, Chris Stockdale, Nola Nelson, Lana Lindstrom, Richard Hughes, Joanne Ledet, Bea Fontana, Lynn Meacham, Peter Graham, Jim Whitfield, Helen Martz, Judy Ness, Judy Terry, Guy Strahon, Daphne James, Kitson Graham, Nancy Whitfield, Marian West, Martha Welches.

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