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!!
Thanks for stopping by! Have a great week.