Hummocks Loop Trail - Loowit Overlook
JUNE 12, 2010 Summer made a brief appearance for this Mountaineers hike near the Johnston Ridge Observatory. Seventy-five degrees and sun--my idea of a perfect day. And likewise, the trail was my idea of a perfect, easy hike.
We hiked the Hummocks Loop trail counterclockwise, traveling through red alder groves, past beaver dams, ponds and lodges, and up and down, around and through the hummocks left behind in the May 18, 1980 eruption. The hummocks are huge mounds of multi-colored debris that comprised the once stately cone of Mt. St. Helens. In the 30 years since the eruption, wildflowers, grass and trees have grown and wildlife has returned. In addition to the beaver dams and lodges, we saw signs of other animals: elk tracks and the scat of elk, coyote and bear. The sound of a hawk pierced the air, and at one point on the ridge I thought I heard an eagle call. We turned onto the Boundary Trail and began switchbacking up through old clear cuts and the remains of standing timber brought down in the eruption. This trail is thin and stingy, but the views are generous, especially once the ridge is attained. A delightful traverse of the ridge took us to an overlook with wonderful views of Mt. St. Helens up front and in our faces and Mt. Adams lurking off in the distance. We hiked to the Loowit Overlook parking lot and stopped for lunch.
What is so rare as a day in June, having lunch with new friends in the sunshine with a show-stopping view? Soon it was time to return, where the hike down the stingy, eroded trail was a little daunting in a steep, exposed area. Once past that spot, however, the hike back to the Hummocks Trail and the leg of the loop back to our cars was a delightful hike. We stopped at nearby Coldwater Lake to share fresh fruit, decadent chocolate, and soft drinks that we had left chilling in a cooler while we hiked, and we walked to a viewpoint of the crystal clear lake created during the eruption.
Only the construction in Tacoma that snarled traffic was a blight on the day.