After berry picking, I got on I-5 and headed home. The great thing about having a free day is the ability to be spontaneous. On a whim I decided to stop at the Mount Saint Helen’s visitor center, a five-mile detour east off I-5. When I got there, I found a wonderful view of the mountain over Silver Lake. Despite the light haze from distant forest fires, the view was beautiful. Since I had some time leeway, I decided to take the Silver Lake Wetland Haven Trail, an easy one mile loop, and stretch my legs. The sign promised: “This loop trail guides you through an intriguing marsh wetland, home to creatures galore within one single sheltered cove of Silver Lake.” The easy hard packed gravel was a walk in the park, very easy, with a super accessible view of the mountain. With interpretive signs and benches along the trail, it was a very informative walk as well.
It is amazing to think that the mountain blew its top in 1980, 37 years ago. The area is beautiful now. It is hard to imagine that the area was covered with ash for miles around, and the destruction wrecked on the people and land is appalling to think about. 57 people died that day. However, it is also an encouraging thing to keep in mind as forest fires currently rage through Oregon, Washington and along the entire West Coast. There is hope that the land can heal and the forage can grow back again after a major disaster.
Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center
Exit 49 off I-5
As this summer has been busy, this adventure is from a few weeks back, but it started months ago with some planning this past spring. When my friend took me on the rails to trails trail back in May she mentioned that the blackberries along the trail were amazing. Since I love the taste of fresh, sun warmed, wild blackberries, we planned a blackberry foraging adventure for when they got ripe, which ended up being about the middle of August.
This time on the trail, she took me to a different section, about mile post 1 1/5. We picked up the Willapa Hills Trail (I now know its name!) off Tune Road in Chehalis. Not walking too far, we crossed train tracks (which are currently in use) and found patches of blackberries full of wonderfully plump and sweet berries! It was a good thing we weren’t in competition because she beat me and picked at least double the berries I gathered! In my defense though, I spotted a plum tree nestled behind the berries. The purple fruit looked ripe and, if I could only get through the berry thorns, within arm’s reach. There in the farmlands of western Washington, we had a good time getting sweaty, scratched and eating delicious fruit.
When I got home, and with a little internet searching, I discovered that the Willapa Hills Trail starts in Chehalis and ends about 56 miles away west in South Bend at Highway 101 (the historic Coastal Highway connecting the West Coast from Los Angeles, CA to Port Angeles, WA). The trail is a mix of paved and gravel, but consistently easy the whole way. As I was told, it used to be a train track and is relatively flat the entire distance.
Btw – I blame White Collar TV show for my lack of a blog post in August. Thank you, my berry picking pal, for recommending! It’s hilarious!