Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lakes Trail Along Coldwater Lake Provides Gentle Topography

There are times, and hopefully many when you have to adjust your hikes to your partner. It is nearly impossible to find a hiking partner with your same physical condition and trail values. Hikes generally fit into three categories for me. There are the short, boring ones, the moderate with modest interest and those that climb to the highest levels with the greatest views. Unfortunately, few of my potential hiking partners have my physical condition and or share my interest of alpine settings.

Geology and Minnie Peak combine for a great landscape diversity along the shores of Coldwater lake.

My dear wife shares my values , but not my physical condition or my longing to reach the highest elevations. To share any trail time with her, I must find trails in either category 1 or 2. There is also the factor of making one feel good about their accomplishments, therefore I chose the higher level.

In my data bas of trails, I found one that fit our mutual needs. The first 5 miles of the “Lakes Trail” is flat, and relatively gentle. It has spectacular scenery and is only about an hour away from the area.

Alders along South Coldwater Ridge provide a nice reflection in the quiet lake water.

The Lakes Trail is actually Trail #211 which ventures into the Mt. Margaret Backcountry of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. It refers to the eastern high lakes of Snow, Shovel and Obscurity, but for our purposes, it may as well mean Coldwater Lake itself.

Spud Mountain rises on the west side of the Toutle River Valley with Coldwater Lake in the foreground.

The trail leaves from near the Coldwater Lake boat dock and follows the shore to the east side of the lake where it continues to follow Coldwater Creek into the high country. As you leave what few visitors there are on the developed side of the lake, plan on experiencing the quiet side of wild this fall. While is has been a poor year for huckleberries, the Evergreen genre supplied many moments of natural refreshment with some berries larger than any in my recent memory. Second, the next few weeks will supply natural drama as the area elk populations communicate with bugles that seem so sink into the soul.

Evergreen Huckleberries were both plenty and large along the trail.

Laurie partaking of tasty natural bounty.

One note of caution for any that hike this trail in the next few weeks, is that hunters sometimes use the area for their sport as well. Dressing accordingly is advised. On our recent hike, we saw one hiker and two boats on the lake where it was quiet enough to hold a conversation from shore to boat in a normal tone of voice.

What people need to understand is the concept of perspective. Most have observed Coldwater Lake from the viewpoints, boat docks or the decks of the former Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center but as you head east and view the lake looking west, entire new scenes of Washington scenery present themselves. Spud Mountain looms west of the alder groves, and South Coldwater Ridge seems to grow as the lake shrinks. The water in the fall is clear which is often no the case in the spring or summer.

Laurie crosses one of the most rugged portions of the trail at the base of a massive natural landslide.

At the end of the lake, we came to the junction of the South Coldwater Trail (#230) and followed it 30 yards to a bridge over Coldwater Creek where we appropriately ate lunch.

While this portion of the Lakes Trail is long, there are few opportunities to beat the scenery with a tail that gains little elevation.

1 comment:

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