September 3rd, 2011
I headed south from Seattle, following a route suggested by my hosts through something called Chinook Pass. Mike had mentioned massive snow drifts, which I wasn’t really looking forward too, but also what he said were the best views of Mt Ranier.
I didn’t see massive snow drifts, for which I am thankful for my late start.
The road was not demanding, and had some interesting things along the side of it.
I headed further south for Mt St Helens, which I had vague memories of erupting when I was younger. It was someplace it seemed I always knew existed, and I was excited to actually see it.
I had a route set up to the Visitor Center, but it was long and looped all the way around the mountain. Out of curiosity I asked my GPS to make a route there for me instead. I haven’t been using my GPS for routing, only location and for it’s odometer function (the bike Curiosity doesn’t actually have a trip meter for fuel trackage). It showed a much shorter route, and I decided to follow it instead.
I don’t have many pictures of this road, which might have gone where I wanted but was closed. The road wasn’t that bad, but I was annoyed by it.
After going back to my original route I reached the volcano finally. The road to the visitor center was actually fun, despite the holiday traffic.
Most of the top of the mountain is gone now, but there is a smaller cone inside the crater. There were clouds (and smoke) so it was hard to get a good picture.
You can get good views of the volcano from the road, but the area of the visitor center, and a hiking trail that gives a closer view of the volcano, are fee areas (Clearly labeled as such in the parking lot, on the path from the parking lot, at the entry to the outdoor viewing area outside the visitor center (where you actually pay) and at the start of the hiking trail). A mother was standing at the start of the trail, calling to her husband (who was dragging along two young children) they needed to pay or face a fine, and he was continuing on, yelling back “Ain’t nobody gonna fine me, I’m American and those fees should only be for foreigners.” Given the number of foreigners around at the moment I felt like I should apologize, or hide. Maybe with my hat I looked Australian.
You can sort of see the hiking trail on the upper left. It was a long walk, and the picture wasn’t that much better.
Inside the visitor center was a cool topographic display showing the eruption with little LED lights built into it.
I made myself lunch and got back on the road, heading for hwy 101, but I made a small mistake and rode too late into the day on the holiday weekend. Campgrounds were full and I ended up in a trailer park (yeah), where the party had already started and lasted until 3am. At least dinner was provided (I didn’t eat the BBQ chicken, since it was pink inside and charred on the outside), but I passed on the vodka in a glass skull.