Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Seaquest State Park

Believe it or not, neither of us has ever been to Mount St. Helens, so this being the 35th anniversary of her last eruption, it was the perfect time to pay her a visit.

 Seaquest seems like a funny name for a park at Mount St. Helens. There is no sea nearby, so what gives? Turns out, it's named for the homesteader who willed the property to the state upon his death. I can only assume his ancestors were, at some point, seafaring folk, but the property Alfred L. Seaquest bequeathed to the state seems to indicate he was a landlubber. 

Although the abundant signs 

 at the entrance

 are all very welcoming, we drove past the park in order to head up to the end of the highway and the Johnston Ridge Observatory. 

It is a national monument named for David Johnston, a USGS volcanologist who perished in the 1980 eruption at his observation post, where the observatory now stands, six miles north of the volcano. His last known words were his broadcast, "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it! This is it!" less than a minute before the lateral blast reached this ridge. That haunts me. 

Because it is a national park, dogs aren't permitted, so the Forest Pig had to stay in the rig, where she enjoyed air conditioned, cushioned comfort, but didn't get to see this

Standing there, feeling like I could reach out and touch the mountain, I kept wondering why anyone thought this would be far enough away. Of course, I have the clarity and vanity of hindsight.

A look around inside and a walk on the short paved trail were all we had time for because of the pup

 but we will return someday to hike these beckoning trails.

Back to the park we went. Our spot was nothing to rave about, being in the "RV lot" of the park, but we were beneath this most unusual and beautiful tree with pink and green leaves. The interwebs tell me it's a tricolored beech tree. I need one in my own yard.

We got all hooked up and settled in, then took our customary exploratory walk. There were no doggie bags in the park, which made the Forest Pig feel most unwelcome.

There is a tunnel connecting the camping park to the Visitor Center park and trail.

There is a 1-mile trail around the marshland adjacent to Silver Lake. Well, the sign says it's one mile, but we dispute that, believing it's not quite that long.

You can see the mountain from it, although it is 50 miles away.

There are lots of critters in the marshland, like this Great Blue Heron. We saw approximately one zillion of them.

 Mama and ducklings cruising along.

Froggy trying to hide from the herons.

 As we were relaxing later that evening, a park employee came around to put up the little reservation tickets, and we noticed that she put one on our post but it did not have our name on it. Uh-oh!

As soon as the park opened in the morning, The Big Guy went to straighten out the confusion. Good thing the Martins weren't arriving the same day as us because we were in their spot! We pulled up stakes from T13, and motored over to our proper place of plain old 13. And kicked ourselves since, clearly, this was a much better location and we would have been completely alone that night.

It didn't take us long to re-establish our setup, and we were off to walk the trails in the park.

They were partly forest service road

 but mostly pretty wooded trail. We walked some each day until we had done all the trails in the park, as well as walking the marshland trail at least twice a day, morning and evening.

Back in the campground, and before all the new campers arrived -- the fluttering reservation tickets on all the posts told of an impending horde -- The Big Guy gathered up a couple pieces of charry, unused firewood and added it to the stuff left in our fire ring. We are not normally campfire people, but our grill malfunctioned the night before, and I had to cook the hotdogs inside. Inside! I did not want to have to repeat the horror with the burgers.

Man make fire!

 Next to the Visitor Center was a little drink stand advertising coffee drinks and Authentic Hawaiian Shave Ice! But it wasn't open our first two days. We thought it might be a weekend thing, and we were right, so on Saturday, I was looking forward to a treat. 

Yay, cherry-lime for me, but no delicious scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle. Authentic my eye!

Still, it was a refreshing treat, and a nice, relaxing getaway. If I had left a comment card for the park staff, it would have read, "Please install doggie bag dispensers, and OIL THE SWING SET!"