Several folks along the way have told us that Mt. St. Helens National Monument is a must see in Washington. Of course we should have know that, but it just never occurred to us and we might very well have missed it, so thanks to all those who mentioned it.
What do we do when we arrive at a major National Park on Saturday, knowing the campsites will be hard to find? We go dispersed…into the wilderness. Mt St Helens National Monument is, unlike most National Parks and Monuments, operated by the Forest Service. This anomaly usually happens when the need arises to create a National Monument, but time is of the essence and the National Park Service moves too slowly. Suddenly, Very Suddenly, in May of 1980 Mt St Helens became, if you will, a mountain of interest. The Forest Service stepped in and very quickly created the protections and restrictions that this unique and new environment required. They did a good job. Unfortunately there are no campgrounds in the Monument and we needed to look to the surrounding Gifford-Pinchot National Forest for camping.
Did I mention that FR 54 is a gravel road uphill all the way for 13 miles to our campsite, and that if you were to ride a bike another 5 miles, that would be all uphill also? It was fun ride back to the campsite, just in time for sunset.
While I was riding, Cheryl was taking pictures of flowers.
Almost every morning there is a thick mist in the valleys and it is likely that accounts for the proliferation of ferns.
There are no campgrounds, but there is some dispersed camping closer in to the National Monument and we were looking for some hiking on the, more or less intact, south side of Mt St Helens, saving the blast zone for later. The weekend is over and it’s time to move.