Mount St. Helens: When a Mountain Moves Into Your Heart
WTA staffer Layla Farahbakhsh has fallen in love with Mount St. Helens during her summer exploring it and working on trails. Read her story, and join her on an upcoming workparty.
Layla Farahbakhsh was hired through a partnership between Washington Trails Association and Mount St. Helens Institute (MSHI) to support WTA in the field as a crew leader and at outreach events in Southwest Washington.
A good friend of mine recently told me, “Trail people just want to be alone, together.”
As humans, we are always seeking connections. Connections to other people, to places and to history. Connections give us context, and a sense of security and belonging. One way we build connections is through stories. As someone who works on trails year round, stories are what can turn a hike into a memory.
A few weekends ago, I went on just one such memorable hike with the Mount St Helens Institute. MSHI is one of WTA’s newest partners, and I was able to join them on a guided hike. The mission of the Institute is to advance understanding and stewardship of the earth through science, education and exploration of volcanic landscapes. We build partnerships to build trails. We build these communities to feel grounded, and we can mobilize these networks in times of need.
My experience hiking to the Crater Glacial view climb was great. The guides were prepared, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. We started the day at Windy Ridge, then hiked down the Loowit trail and headed off trail. The hike was in line with the descriptions on the website.
As someone relatively new to the area, I really enjoyed the mix of physical science, personal experience, and cultural history that the guides and volunteers were able to provide about the mountain. As someone who is pretty much always hiking or eating, my favorite fact of the day was definitely that the glacier is shaped like a donut.
There are places that you visit that will stay with you forever. It happens when you least expect it, a creeping realization that a mountain has moved into your heart. Maybe this is one of the reasons why we seek wilderness. Mount St Helens is one of those places for me.
I hope you are able to join me on Mount Saint Helens. We have trips coming up on the mountain on the Ptarmigan Trail Aug 27-28 and the Devil’s Elbow for National Public Lands Day Sept 24-25.