#PNWonderland: A weekend among volcanoes and wildflowers - Mount Margaret Backcountry

Mount St. Helens fascinated me from the first moment I saw it and I found out its story: 36 years ago, Mount St. Helens erupted in a spectacular way. Many people and thousands of animals got killed, a massive landslide occurred and that landscape will never look the same as before.

A photo posted by Simina (@siminuk) on

So when this year, Le Boyfriend got us a Mount Margaret Backcountry Permit for overnight camping right across Mount St. Helens, I couldn’t be more excited.

We started the weekend at the Norway Pass Trailhead, and headed up for a few miles of uphill switchbacks, woohoo! Flowers make me happy, and at this time of the year the wildflowers were in full bloom. What a joy! After few miles, we got a gorgeous view to Mt. St Helens, Spirit Lake and many logs floating in the lake, reminiscent from the eruption that took place 36 years ago.

Spirit Lake
The white area on the lake is not snow - these are all floating logs!

The hike went up and after few hours, many picture breaks and pit stop we got to Mt. Margaret campground, which would be our “base” for the weekend. There was a single other tent there, and the advanced planning was totally worth it. (Here's a proper description of the hike with plenty of details.)

A photo posted by Simina (@siminuk) on

After a yummy lunch and a nap under the open sky, we got to explore the surroundings for a few more miles. The sky cleared up, so around us we could see Mt. Adams (we called it Mt. Rainier for the day), Mt. Hood and Mt. St Helens right there, in front of us.

St Helens
Hiking with no backpack, what a joy!

It was getting cold, the wind was getting stronger, so we came back to the tents for a warm dinner and a beautiful sunset. Despite the elk tracks all over the place, we couldn’t spot any… After 12 miles of hiking, 3,500 feet elevation gain, clouds and sun, sunset and wind, we called it a day.

sunset
Sunset colors

One reason I love overnight camping in the backcountry is waking up in the morning: everything is so quiet, so calm and no other hikers are around. If Saturday was a bit cloudy and sometimes foggy, on Sunday the sky completely cleared up. After breakfast we hiked up on Mt. Margaret and on the way there also spotted some mountain goats. When we got up on the top - surprise! There was a new Mt. Rainier. Turns out that the whole previous day we were looking at Mt. Adams and thinking it was Mt. Rainier. Noobs! :) The view from Mt. Margaret was amazing: Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens were all aligned at the horizon, and we were the only ones there to soak in the views. On the way back to the car, we took a detour and explored a few miles of the Lakes loop (Grizzly Lake, Obstruction Lake). On the way between Mt. Margaret and the parking lot, I started documenting all the wildflowers we’ve seen - counted at least 15 different types! (or as my boyfriend would put it, 4 types: white, yellow, lila and pink).

What a wonderful weekend! Volcanoes all around, no crowds, plenty of wildflowers and great weather. As a bonus, we got a good training for what the first weekend in August will bring: The Enchantments!

PS: Special thanks to my hiking buddy and awesome boyfriend for some of the pics!

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