Harry's Ridge -- Boundary Trail, Mt. St. Helen's National Monument,
September 4, 2011
My brother Den is a devoted trout fishing fan of a lake in the Mt. St. Helen's
National Monument of Washington State. He had planned on a day of fishing
and invited me to go along. I had the option of fishing or hiking and
I picked the second. I've gone with him on some other trips to his
lake and have done a couple of other hikes in the area. It's about
a 100 mile drive from his house to the lake, so it provides us with a lot
of time to visit and catch up on things. We took Den's pickup
rig, for he had to haul his pontoon boat. Some sort of boat is necessary
at this lake, for virtually no shore fishing is allowed. But no gasoline
motors are allowed on the lake. The fishing is restricted to
"catch and release" with artificial lures or flies with single barbless hooks.
We arrived at the lake at around 10 AM. and quickly got Den's boat
in the lake. It's shown below with him ready to start rowing.
Den carries two fly rods on his boat. One has a floating line
for dry flies while the other is set up with a weighted line for wet flies.
A set of flippers on his feet provide additional propulsion.
After we got his boat launched, I took his truck and drove another 7 miles
to the Johnston Ridge observatory. (Their formal presentation
is outstanding and I highly recommend it.) The parking lot serves
as the trailhead for numerous hikes in the area. The walk I picked
was the Boundary Trail with a walk up Harry's Ridge. Boundary here
refers to the border of the restricted zone that has been under detailed
study following the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helen's. I was
hiking by 11:30 AM.
Views of Mt. St. Helen's started to appear almost immediately. Here
is an early sign, one of many, that warned hikers to stay on the trail.
This is by far the most restricted area I've ever hiked. The views
of the mountains were severely compromised by a couple of large wildfires
in Oregon that were contributing smoke to the north.
The trail looped around a knob with quite a bit of exposure in some places.
This was not a good place for little kids unless they were under tight
After 2.5 miles, I encountered a major trail junction. The
so called Truman trail intersects the Boundary trail at this point.
Eventually I reached the base of Harry's Ridge. The red marking
roughly shows the route of the hike. The beginning is near the peak
of Johnston Ridge. Harry's Ridge was a short walk and only a
couple of hundred feet of additional elevation gain. The place was
named for Harry Truman, the proprietor of the Spirit Lake Lodge, who was
interviewed in depth on local TV prior to the eruption. Alas, Harry
did not survive the 1980 blast.
An unusual structure is found on top of Harry's Ridge. It
was originally an observation tower used to study Mt. St. Helen's prior to
the blast. The present equipment was installed at a later date.
The disc that looks like a Frisbee at the top is probably a GPS patch antenna.
I speculate that the small box near the top is a high performance
GPS receiver. The large solar panel is available for power.
The rusty metal box probably contains a storage battery and perhaps
some seismic instrumentation.
The view of the mountain was unobstructed from Harry's Ridge.
The best view was of Spirit Lake with Mt. Adams in the distance.
The smoke can be seen on the horizon. Much of Spirit Lake is
covered with floating logs, deposited there by the blast of May 1980.
Spirit Lake is now restricted from any public entry because of the dangers
imposed by the floating, but often moving logs. There is, however,
at least one trail that provides a closer view than this one. After
going to the top of Harry's Ridge, I returned to the Boundary trail.
I continued for just a short distance and then headed back, for it was becoming