Hiked last Sunday on Ape Canyon trail and through Plains of Abraham. One of my favorite trails on MSH and only 1.5 hours from home, but oddly I didn't visit it for a couple of years.
As an added bonus this time, volcano was visibly steaming (or dusting?) all day long. Plus, finally no haze & all the distant views were out
First 5 miles of the trail are in the woods with a welcome shade (it was 77F at trailhead), but it's never far from the edge of the plain swept by 1980 mudflows. The best view is about 3/4 of a mile from the trailhead.
In 2 miles, the trail enters old-growth forest, with some huge trees and lots of vine maple
Vanilla leaf "flowers"
Not sure what are these
It feels pretty strange walking in lush forest and seeing barren desert so close
Small rockslides were in action in these canyons
Lots of flowers just before you enter a desert
Looking across the narrow slot of Ape Canyon...
and right through it
Wild strawberries - just started on the hill above Ape Canyon, but already plentiful
I took many shots of Pumice Butte - interesting, colorful geology
And of Mt. Adams over Ape Canyon
The Plains' south part looks like a real desert; as you go north it becomes greener
At the lower slopes of MSH it looked like a small version of Adams' Devils Garden. (you can see some volcano monitor as a white dot on a hill)
If you're going to camp, the only clear & drinkable stream in the area, just past Pumice Butte, is all but dried up. Only a few potholes were still filled with water. Here I am looking down dry falls, it used to run good at least through mid-summer
I walked on, remembering the beds of lupine on the NE part of the Plains. Well, today lupine was a no show, but fields of blooming penstemon were a nice surprise
They came in different hues
Overlooking St Helens, with a different garden
I turned back shortly before Windy Ridge, figuring I had just enough time to come back before dark. Here, looking at barren Pumice Butte (L) and lush ridge where my return trail goes
Volcano was showing off in sunset light
Back in the forest, I surprised two grouse (or rather they surprised me by "exploding" almost from under my feet). The male landed right back and started making these quiet uh! uh! sounds, calling back his girlfriend. She didn't return, but I could slowly get within 3 yards of him, change camera settings and snap a few better pictures.
Hikers and bikers now gone, it was a quiet walk back
This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
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