September 20: Coldwater Peak and Mount Margaret at Mount Saint Helens

The west coast has been blanketed in smoke for over two weeks. We are thankful for a standing home and a healthy family, but unable to leave the house, the stifling smoke dampened our spirits.

To keep up with the ever-changing air quality, we check the WA Smoke Blog and the Washington Air Quality Advisory page. As a part of my regular routine, I always check weather and webcams for several mountainous regions in the state. With good air quality coming after heavy rain, and dry weather forecasted for the south cascades, we decided to spend Sunday at Mount Saint Helens.

After waking up at 4:30 and booking it out of the house, we made it to the Johnson Observatory at 8:20am. We started running the Boundary Trail at 8:38 am. As soon as we rounded the corner from the lot, we both gasped at the beauty of Mount Saint Helens.

Vivid green, clouds, and MSH. Looking down at the Loowit Trail which we ran in July

As we went further into the Mount Margaret Backcountry, fall colors deepened. At mile 5, we took a 1.5-mile spur trail up Coldwater Peak, which towers over Spirit Lake (interesting history!) and Saint Helens Lake.

We didn’t stay long at the top of Coldwater Peak- it was cold & misty (but beautiful)!

We descended down to the main trail and continued on towards Mount Margaret. We kept looking back towards Saint Helens, Coldwater Peak, and the lakes.

At mile 8, Mount Margaret and the Dome said hi 👋

Making our way. Can you see the goats at the beginning of the video? 🤩

At mile 10, we took the small spur up to the summit of Mount Margaret. The craggy top looks steep and exposed, but it is an easy walk-up. We had a selfie party up there!

Tippy Top

We didn’t stay long at the top because it was cold, Andrew started to feel tight in the knee, and I could feel my IT band acting up. Uh-oh! We ran/walked the entire way back, both experiencing on-and-off IT band pain, especially on down-hill sections. Our pace was slow, but honestly, we were just happy to be… OUTSIDE. In the FRESH AIR. I was so happy to have smoke-free air, I cried several times (yes, I am sappy like that).

I figure our pains were due to not trail running for two weeks, and then jumping into it with an 18-miler. During the smoke, I did a lot of yoga, weight training, and HIIT workouts, probably going too heavy on the lower body. Additionally, I did a quick pavement run, in celebration of joy of fresh air, on Saturday. My legs are very sensitive to pavement runs- I should have known better! 🙄

At mile 14, we crossed the arch. There was a big group of people on the way in, so we didn’t stop earlier for pictures. It was empty now- our time to shine!

We hobbled back to the car, talking about life, reflecting on my most recently finished book on tape (highly recommend!), and laughing at our stiff legs.

Back by popular demand, the FOOD JOURNAL! I hate to disappoint but we didn’t eat much out there.

When we got to the car, we ate an apple and a big bag of homemade popcorn, covered with my dear friend’s amazing homemade dip.

We stopped halfway home for Starbucks (Andrew: Frappuccino, Angie: Coldbrew), and TacoBell bean tacos. (Hey, we were REALLY hungry!)

When we got home, we ate amazing kimchi fried rice from my dear student’s family (Burt’s second family). They got a puppy, BTW, which means Burt has a new girlfriend.

Burt and Kona

Total Moving Time: 5:24

Total Distance: 18.6 miles

Total Gain: 4,613 feet

2 thoughts on “September 20: Coldwater Peak and Mount Margaret at Mount Saint Helens

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