Riding at Mt Saint Helens on the Ape Canyon Trail and Plains of Abraham is a pretty incredible experience. From old growth forest to riding across the destruction from its eruption there is something here that should move you as a human. I went out to Windy Gap onto the top of the Smith Creek trail before heading back. This video on the back portion of the ride. The views here absolutely amazing. Here is my blog post from that outing.
This video sit around for over a year as the audio was horrible. The Hero 5 did not have particularly good audio in the first place but my gimbal was having issues as well as it was starting to get noisy enough that the mics of the GoPro focused on that noise and it also managed to start picking up my heartbeat. The whole setup was aggravating. I thought about just covering it all up with music but I was able to get it mostly wrangled in with some filters in post. The video does not do this place justice. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend this place.
I had been out here the year before and the weather was not cooperating. I did shoot video on that trip and looked at incorporating some of it into this video but none of it made the cut. Here is my blog post from my 2018 visit to this area.
So I am working in the Puget Sound area of Washington for the next few weeks. This is a great time be up in this area of thr country. Last year I went out to Mt Saint Helens and rode the Ape Canyon and Plains of Abraham trails. It was a pretty incredible ride but the weather did not cooperate so my views were quite limited. Here is report from that day
On the top of my MTB list for this trip was a return outing to here when the weather was clear. My first weekend here and the weather report looked good so I pulled the trigger. Boy was I rewarded for it.
Along the Ape Canyon trail looking at the south fsce of the mountain.
I saw a lot more of the mountain than last year even before I got to the trailhead. The climb up Ape Canyon was fantastic and the further up I went the better things got. The tops of Mt Adams and Mt Rainier were even visible in spots.
The view from the top of Ape Canyon
The view when you reach the top of Ape Canyon is incredibly impressive. In the pan shot above you can see the Rainier, Adams and of course Mt Saint Helens.
The south-southeast slopes of the mountain.
It is crazy to think that much of the foreground was forest before the eruption in 1980. The mountain used to have a typical volcano shape to it but the eruption blasted off 1,300 feet off the top. This is just the non-blast side of the mountain.
From here I rode the Plains of Abraham trail over the eastern slope of pumice and lava rock. Riding through here I once again felt very small seeing what the power of Mama Earth can do. There were also lots of wildflowers and other low growing stuff.
The northestern slope as seen on the fireroad out Windy Gap.
The trail takes you around to the northeastern area of the mountain where you can get your first view of the side of the mountain that was blown off. In the picture above you can see the trail in the ridgeline.
Spirit Lake and the “log raft”
The singletrack dumps you off a ridgeline and onto a dirt forest service road. I took that out to Windy Gap and the onward to the Smith Creek trailhead. Here I was treated to a nice view of Spirit Lake and the “Log Raft”. The lake took the brunt of the blast and most of the water was thrown up into the higher elevations in the form of a wave estimated to be about 850 feet high. When the dust settled and water drained back into the lake it was a much larger and shallower lake that had 40% of it surface area covered in the floating trunks of the trees between it and the mountain. Check out this wikipedia article on it. Moat of those trunks are still floating on the lake.
I thought about dropping the Smith Creek trail to do a more epic loop, but I wanted to retrace my steps and descend Ape Canyon to finish the ride.
Retracing my steps was plenty of work but I was once again rewarded with killer views and the descent down Ape Canyon was the source of multiple joygasms. What an opener for this trip!
I got up at O-damm early this morning to knock off a long time on “The List” trails. The Mt Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument’s Ape Canyon and Plains of Abraham trails did not disappoint. Mother Nature only allowed partial views of the mountain today which clearly means she wants me to come back. The climb up through the old growth forest spared by the eruption was sublime. Climbing up onto the plains was a WOW moment. It was amazing to see what the mountain did when it decided to give its etch-a-sketch a little shake in 1980. It’s going to take me a few days to process all of the life enrichment I took in today.