Summers in the Pacific Northwest are simply magical and it's easy to take it for granted. Back in July Daniel Sharp posted on Instagram that he wanted to ride Mt St Helens under the full moon. I've ridden Mt St Helens the previous summer and there was no way I was going to miss out on riding it at night under a full moon!
"Mount St. Helens or Louwala-Clough (known as Lawetlat'la to the indigenous Cowlitz people, and Loowit to the Klickitat) is an active stratovolcano located in Skamania County, Washington, in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is 96 miles south of Seattle, Washington, and 50 miles northeast of Portland, Oregon."
We arrived at the trailhead around 7pm and the parking lot was packed. I told you PNW summers are magical right? The ride begins on the Ape Canyon trail which is mostly shaded with the occasional jaw dropping view of St Helens.
After an hour or so the tree coverage gives way to stunning views of St Helens and Mt Adams. The sun is setting and their is a golden glow casting as far as the eye can see.
"Mount St. Helens takes its English name from the British diplomat Lord St Helens, a friend of explorer George Vancouver who made a survey of the area in the late 18th century. The volcano is located in the Cascade Range and is part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc, a segment of the Pacific Ring of Fire that includes over 160 active volcanoes. This volcano is well known for its ash explosions and pyroclastic flows."
After crossing a minefield of volcanic rock and late summer snow pack we find ourselves on Plains of Abraham. Check out the gallery below to see how fucking rad it is!
"The early eruptive stages of Mount St. Helens are known as the "Ape Canyon Stage" (around 40,000–35,000 years ago), the "Cougar Stage" (ca. 20,000–18,000 years ago), and the "Swift Creek Stage" (roughly 13,000–8,000 years ago). The modern period, since about 2500 BCE, is called the "Spirit Lake Stage". Collectively, the pre–Spirit Lake stages are known as the "ancestral stages". The ancestral and modern stages differ primarily in the composition of the erupted lavas; ancestral lavas consisted of a characteristic mixture of dacite and andesite, while modern lava is very diverse (ranging from olivine basalt to andesite and dacite).
St. Helens started its growth in the Pleistocene 37,600 years ago, during the Ape Canyon stage, with dacite and andesite eruptions of hot pumice and ash. 36,000 years ago a large mudflow cascaded down the volcano; mudflows were significant forces in all of St. Helens' eruptive cycles. The Ape Canyon eruptive period ended around 35,000 years ago and was followed by 17,000 years of relative quiet. Parts of this ancestral cone were fragmented and transported by glaciers 14,000 to 18,000 years ago during the last glacial period of the current ice age.
The second eruptive period, the Cougar Stage, started 20,000 years ago and lasted for 2,000 years. Pyroclastic flows of hot pumice and ash along with dome growth occurred during this period. Another 5,000 years of dormancy followed, only to be upset by the beginning of the Swift Creek eruptive period, typified by pyroclastic flows, dome growth and blanketing of the countryside with tephra. Swift Creek ended 8,000 years ago."
The moon rose and the sky filled with stars. It was pretty fucking magical. Hopefully the photos speak for themselves because I am lost for words.