Monday, July 7, 2014

Where did the trail go? Walking through the Lava Rock of Mt. St. Helens

This was our most adventurous adventure to date!  We started with an ambitious (for an almost 2 year old who must walk) backpacking trek to June Lake.
 Sarah carried a very tall backpack filled with a tent and three sleeping bags.  I carried a very precarious baby backpack filled with food, cook gear, one sleeping bag, and one sleeping pad.  Amy carried an adult backpacking backpack filled with two sleeping pads, her white bear, her clothes, and her reading books.
 Analise found a stick and hiked for awhile with several moments of melting down and wanting to be picked up.  Though we were carrying a lot of weight, Sarah and I both gave her some boosts up the hills to complete the 1.3 miles.
 We were rewarded with a beautiful views of Mt. St. Helens and huckleberries along the way.
 June Lake is a pretty little lake in the middle of a mud flow area where there are few trees.  It has a cool waterfall running into it.  We set up our home away from home for two nights.  Since there was no tree to hang our food, I made a "bear box" with lava rocks and wood to protect our food for the night.  Unfortunately, a critter did find it and bite through the bag, but not much food was lost.
 The next day started at 4:40am when Analise decided she was ready to be awake for the day and stuck her finger up Sarah's nose asking "What are you doing, Sarah?"  We set out close to Analise's nap time on one of of our most challenging adventures through a lava field in search of Chocolate Falls. 
 We started with a very steep climb through the woods and came out into a lava rock field.  The "trail" was a lot of rock hopping and picking our way across large boulders.We hiked about 3 miles through this lava rock field.  Amy commented partway through that she likes this sort of challenge and that this was her favorite hike, even better than huckleberry picking!
 It was hot exhausting work choosing each step and hoping the large lava rocks were stable.  I was carrying my 35 lb precious sleeping cargo plus her pack through the lava field.  Each of us got a few scrapes and Sarah and I both got sunburned from being so exposed to the sun.
 We continued to be amazed by the views of Mt. St. Helens and the thought that we were walking on the erupted top of a mountain.  It was certainly a walk of faith as we often asked each other "Where did the trail go?" when all we could see were more rocks and no footprints or markers.
 At times, but not as often as we hoped, we found Cairns to help guide us.  We made it out of the lava rock to find Chocolate Falls, not quite running brown as it does daily.  Then we found a ski trail that made us greatly question the sanity of skiers.  Finally, we picked our way back across a very poorly marked lava rock field.  At this point, our feet were aching but my courageous six year old wonder never complained and my early riser continued sleeping and cheering me on when she woke up from the backpack.
 We wondered whether we would make it back to June Lake but found a marker up hill from us and were able to continue picking our way across back to the lake.
 The girls put on swimsuits and enjoyed dabbling in a stream.  We made chocolate pudding and discovered another small hole in our food bag.  I took a much needed nap and Sarah did some work.
 We enjoyed the well earned restful afternoon.  Despite the sunburn and soreness, we all slept well.  We gave up on the "bear box" idea, and after another unsuccessful attempt to hang food on a too young tree, we slept with food in the tent.  We all woke up around 7:30 in the morning and took our time making breakfast and breaking camp.
 We were ready to head back down the trail with all our possessions on our back.  Unfortunately, before we even got to the trailhead we heard "Momma pick you up"!  I let my littlest hiker know she would have to hike the 1.3 miles down a gradual hill to our car.  She screamed for about the first quarter mile, "Momma pick you up!  Sarah pick you up!"  I tried to stay calm and held both of her hands whenever she protested until she said "walk on my own".  Then I let go until she demanded to be picked up again.  Fortunately she finally asked to hold hands with Sarah, and when Sarah would not pick her up and started singing to her she calmed down and was able to hike the rest of the way to the car.
 We drove to the beautiful Lava Canyon Trailhead for a final short hike before heading home.  This trailhead has "danger" in about six languages and warning signs with symbols of hikers falling off cliffs.  Parts of this hike are not very suitable to children or to dumb tourists who like to ignore signs and climb on slippery rocks to take pictures.  My oldest is very well safety trained, but I'm not sure there is hope of training of any kind for my very strong willed independent youngest child!  As we got out of the car and I offered to put her in the backpack after her loudly protested 1.3 mile hike she says, "Want to walk on my own".  I handed her a hiking stick and she and her sister quickly found huckleberries to pick on the safe part of the trail.
 Analise was fascinated by the rock wall as well and needed to touch each rock.
 We stopped at the rock bench and took a breather.
 Analise found a seat just her size next to the rock wall.  Then it was time to put her in the backpack.
 As Analise took a backpack nap, the rest of us enjoyed the amazing views into the gorge at Lava Canyon.
 The water was so blue and the views were spectacular.
 We stayed away from the edges and stayed close to my superstar hiking daughter.  We ignored the dumb tourists climbing the slippery rock over the canyon.
 Amy was a little afraid of the swaying suspension bridge but made her way across while her sister slept unaware on my back.
We headed home after our mandatory stop at Burgerville.  Sunburned with aching feet but full of a wonderful adventurous weekend.  Amy decided that walking through Lava Rock was not actually her favorite kind of hike and that she hopes she will forget about it by next weekend.  We thought this might be a "Don't tell Nana story" but since she is an avid Adventure Pants reader hopefully I'm not in trouble.  Sarah says I am still in her good graces.  Amy and Analise argued about who is more "articulate" on the way home, though Analise pronounces it "ticulate".  Wow!  Quite an adventure!

No comments:

Post a Comment