Hummocks Trail to Johnston Ridge Observatory

In the winter when snow arrives, the State closes the Spirit Lake Highway that leads up to Johnson Ridge Observatory overlooking the blast zone of Mt St Helens just after Coldwater Lake.

The area is still accessible buy hiking (or if there is snow, snowshoe or skiing) the road, or the Hummocks/Boundary Trail that climbs the ridge up from just before the gate. My goal for the day was to find some mountain goats, and I started just before dawn and hiked into the hummocks. The 34 degrees felt warm and I was in shorts until I came around the ridge to have exposure from the east, when the winds started ripping through. After layering up, I proceeded up the ridge, and past the Observatory to where I found groups of goats hanging out on the ridges below. The landscape looking in the blast zone always mesmerizes me, and the scale of the canyons being cut into the volcanic layers of pumice and ash on the plain below is hard to process, but one of my favorite sights in the Northwest.