Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Maya and I camped with a friend and her daughter this weekend. We went to Mount Saint Helens, which is an amazing place to visit. Every time I've been there, always after the May 18, 1980 explosion, I am in awe of the force of nature and it's ability to rebuild itself.

We camped right on Yale Lake, and it was a more populated campground than I would have liked, but it had flush toilets, which is great if you're camping with kids.

The first night, we pretty much just set up camp, walked around the grounds and checked out the lake. Our site was right next to a massive group. More and more kept coming. It was a bit annoying. They all smoked and hacked constantly. It was pretty gross to wake up in the morning and hear the phlegm coming up. Ew. Smoking is so hot, I tell ya. They were fascinating to us. We watched one woman change her baby on the back of the pick-up with a ciggie hanging out of her mouth and talking to the kid at the same time. Major multi-tasking. I was just waiting for the kid to get burned.

Also at this campground, everyone had dogs. I'm not a big fan of dogs in my space, and I hate dog poop, which I was afraid I would step in. The owners seemed to be pretty good at picking up the poop,though, because I didn't see any.

Needless to say, I think that next time we will look for a dispersed site, wherever we choose to camp. Camping at Cougar Campground was like having all of my neighbors pitching a tent in the front yard.

Saturday we went to the Ape Cave, which was so fun when we went with Paige and Brittani in 1998 or 1999. This time, our guide sucked and it was way too crowded. And Maya was reluctant to venture too far. She was constantly on the look-out for creepy crawlies.

Then we went to the Trail of Two Forests, which was fun. Again, no one was adventurous enough to go in the crawl, like we did on our last trip, but it is such an interesting piece of...geology, I guess.

I was really bummed that Lava Canyon is closed due to damage from the storms and flooding we had this winter. Lava Canyon is an awesome hike with a lot to see-- and a suspension bridge. Maya would have hated that part.

We had lunch, stopped to look at more sights in the area; Shawn checked out a little "store food gas" that was straight out of Deliverance.

Sunday, we packed up camp and headed out to Windy Ridge, which is a must see for anyone going to Mount Saint Helens. Unfortunately, it was an overcast day, so St Helens was hiding from us.

The drive up USFS RD 99 was, well, twisty and narrow and steep. Driving up wasn't bad because that's not the cliff side. i dreaded the downward trip, though. Oh, but the trees on the way up. Wow. It still blows my mind. Snags standing bare and white. Trees laid like matchsticks on the hill. Vegetation is growing among the dead trees now, much more than when I was there before, but it is still breathtaking to see the blast area.

We climbed the 316 steps up the ridge to see Spirit Lake and view the lahar. Maya tackled the stairs very slowly and deliberately since she was afraid of falling-- even when standing still.

On the way home, I was telling my friend about a favorite show that Maya and I watch-- I Shouldn't Be Alive-- and she opined that that may be why Maya was so afraid of everything we did this weekend. Danger and potential death are lurking around every wooded corner. It makes total sense.

Of course I took a few pictures. Click here to view the album or you can always watch the slideshow (below).

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