We awoke thinking that we do an easier ride in the area and then a longer ride the following day that included Plains of Abraham and Ape Canyon Trails. We thought we do a little exploration of the area by truck, before we rode. We decided to drive around and get a good view of Mt. St. Helens. We went quite a ways while getting only fleeting glimpses of the mountain through the trees until we finally reached a point were we had a good view of the mountain. At this point, we were pretty close to the volcano overlooks so we decided to continue on and take a look. The sights were amazing. It is hard to fathom how much material was expelled in the blast until you see it in person. Signs of the massive destruction are evident miles from
the blast past multiple ridges. You can also see the smoke rising from the lava dome in the crater as the volcano continues to erupt and build. This makes for an ominous presence.
Nick got plenty of walks along the way, compensating in part for the extend journey in the truck on winding roads. Towards the end, we took a trail to a lake in the blast zone. Nick was off leash keeping well ahead but checking back to make sure we were still coming. I
got to the lake overlook just in time to see Nick jump clean over a two foot stone wall that dropped about four feet directly into the lake (about a foot deep at the this point). He was none the worst for the wear as he demonstrated once again that he was only part retriever by bringing the sticks I tossed into the lake only part of the way back. This comes from an eleven-year-old dog that groans when lies down or gets up and insists that it is too difficult to get into the truck. At least he had the good sense not to complain to hard about getting back in the truck at the end of his escapade.
We arrived back in Cougar around five, not leaving any time for a ride. Though it only around 50 miles from Cougar to the blast zone, the road, though wide and smooth, is very windy and slow. I had thought we had three days to ride in the area, not the two days that we actually had, so it looks like we will miss a ride day, which is unfortunate. Nevertheless, Mt. St. Helens was definitely worth the visit and we learned that the road to Ape Canyon Trail Trailhead is washed out leading to a 5-mile road ride prior to the already long out and return route that we had planned. Maybe it is a good thing that we had the day off.