Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mt Margaret Backcountry

Just got back this afternoon from a fantastic long weekend in the wilderness with Zach. We backpacked into the Mt Margaret backcountry near Mt St Helens in Washington. Our trip was very challenging but I was super tough and brave and we made it out in one piece.

Saturday we hiked into our camp at a high lake called Shovel Lake. It was just over 10 miles with about 5,000 feet of climbing total. The lake actually only sat at about 4,700 feet elevation, but the trails in went up and down a few mountains. Sunday we mostly stuck around the lake, although we did hike up to the ridge about 750 feet above camp. That was scary as there was no real trail and it was super steep! Today (Monday) we hiked out taking a different route that didn’t have any climbs. However, descending 3,000 feet is pretty hard on tired legs too, so it wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped! The hike out was also about 10 miles.

I carried about 30 lbs and Zach carried 40 (including full waters). At the end of the hike we were both several pounds lighter of food and water and we could tell the difference. Zach has some really good equipment which is nice and light, but it less is always better!

Both days included very challenging sections where the trail was heavily overgrown and I got scratched up pretty bad (I wore long pants on the way out to avoid that, but it was way too hot the first day). Other sections of the trail were along a steep mountain face where a wrong step could have resulted in a verrrry long fall. The post-eruption landscape was very cool but also resulted in tough footing in a lot of places because of the deep volcanic ash, dead/rotten fallen trees, and soft crumbly rock. Another big challenge was a problem with the water filter the first day- after much troubleshooting Zach got it working and we continued along the way.

The views were amazing though and made the journey very worthwhile. From the highest points we could see both Mt Adams and Mt Rainier. The best part of the whole trip for me was the utter isolation- besides a volunteer ranger we saw a few miles in on Saturday, we didn’t see a single human being until we returned to the trailhead. Isolation is such a luxury and something I deeply enjoy. 

We saw a lot of wildlife- deer, elk, marmots, a snake, a frog, and a bald eagle. We also saw a ton of beautiful wildflowers which I love! Lots of pics of those below.

Some of the fun things we did besides hiking were swimming in the freezing cold lake, glissading down snow fields, tracking and watching wildlife, taking pictures, stargazing, and talking. We ate really basic food but after pushing yourself all day any nourishment tastes amazing.

I had such a great time, and I can’t wait to go again. Being from Montana, we’ve always had a love of the outdoors, but it has taken a backseat to running and triathlon for a few years. I’m so excited to get back into it. We have big plans for more backcountry trips and climbing mountains and stuff. Spending time in nature, away from all the pressures and stress of daily life, is such a great feeling. It really renews and revives the spirit I think. It is something I can see myself getting really into in this next phase of my life. :)

We took our old camera since the new one is really big, but we got a lot of great pictures. Here are a few, and then there is a full album linked below. Enjoy!!


 IMG_3081 IMG_3094  IMG_3121 IMG_3179



Thanks for stopping by! Have a great week.


Amy said...

That looks like an amazing weekend! I'm a bit jealous. I don't think I'm getting a backpack trip this year. I'll definitely have to get the route info from you though, so I can add it to my list of places to go!

Alisa said...

Wow, you guys look great. I love that I can view all the photos at the end. Sounds like a challenging but fun hike. I've only been packing twice but I'd love to try it again sometime.

Awesome pictures...can't wait to hear all about it!

Beth said...

Beautiful! We have been talking about doing more of that as well. We do backcountry in the winter, but haven't done any summer stuff.

Anonymous said...

What a great weekend! I've never been backpacking before...sounds tough, but also amazing!

KK said...

Those pictures were taken with the "old camera?" sheesh, I'd love to see what the new one does...

I loved reading this. It sounds like just the perefect trip to begin your new journey. And carrying a 30 pound pack is no small feat. Are you guys considering doing that in the winter? I bet there's some great backcountry skiing/snowshoeing up there!

And yes, I heard about the Tempe "lake." I'm hoping it buys me a one way ticket to easy street :). At least the new water should be clean????

Marathon Maritza said...

I just read through your last 4 posts that I had missed (because I'm a sucktastic blog reader) and I have to say, I'm loving the awesome and yet, relaxing mix of stuff you are doing. Sure long bike rides and big hikes are hard work, but they are also very zen and I think being out in nature always has a certain peacefulness to it... Awesome, friend!!!

This camping trip looks amazing! Take me with you next time!!!

Marya said...

That trip looks AMAZING! How much fun to be out there, just the two of you! Love the pics! J and I'll have to plan a trip like that sometime! :)

Ewen said...

That was a great escape. The landscape around Mt St Helens is amazing. Very cool you were able to do so much hiking without bumping into the Griswolds ;)

Petraruns said...

Gorgeous! Absolutely lovely and what a great thing to do together.