Carefree at Coldwater Lake   18 comments

A nature trail at Mount St. Helens' Coldwater Lake uses an elevated boardwalk to give visitors a great view.  There is also a hiking trail along one lake shore.

A nature trail at Mount St. Helens’ Coldwater Lake uses an elevated boardwalk to give visitors a great view. There is also a hiking trail along one lake shore.

Summer is going by as quick as it can, and carefree moments are precious now.  Last weekend on the way back from the Olympic Peninsula I made one of my patented “left turns” (why is always a left?) and on a whim headed up to Mount St. Helens.  The weather promised some nice light and I wanted to get some good shots of the mountain.  The following morning was beautifully misty, sunset was gorgeous, and the flowers were surprisingly still blooming fresh.  But the moment I will take from the trip was one that happened without a camera around my neck.

Coldwater Lake at Mount St. Helens, Washington.

Coldwater Lake at Mount St. Helens, Washington.

After hiking up near the crater mouth, I headed back down to Coldwater Lake.  This is a beautiful big lake that was formed during the famous eruption in 1980.  The massive landslide that triggered the eruption (that in turn destroyed much of the forest in these parts) also dammed Coldwater Creek.  And just like that nature’s fury left a jewel in its wake.  When I arrived after the hot, dry hike, I immediately thought SWIM!  I was in such a hurry that I left the camera behind and jogged partway up the sunny shore, looking for a likely spot.  I found a perfect spot where a large tree, weathered silver and smooth, lay partway out into the lake, forming a sort of natural dock.  These massive old-growth trees lay all about the area, testament to the eruption’s power.

The outlet of Coldwater Lake winds its beautiful way through the now-vegetated landslide debris from the 1980 eruption.

Some of the many logs scattered along the shores of Coldwater Lake, remnants of the once dense forest of tall evergreens that grew here before the 1980 eruption.

I couldn’t believe how perfect the water was when I dove in.  It was by no means warm, but it wasn’t too cold either.  Refreshing!  After the swim I just lay on the big log staring up into the sky.  All I could hear was a nearby kingfisher and without trying the clouds started making recognizable shapes.  How many summer days during childhood did I do this?  And why have I not done much of it since?  The sun dried me and I dozed in and out.  All my cares melted away.

The outlet of Coldwater Lake winds its beautiful way through the now-vegetated landslide debris from the 1980 eruption.

The outlet of Coldwater Lake winds its beautiful way through the now-vegetated landslide debris from the 1980 eruption.

After the swim I was ready to shoot some pictures.  I think the summery hour or so I had just spent made the picture-taking that much better.  I was refreshed and calm, the perfect way to be when doing anything, especially something creative.  It’s a reminder that those carefree summer moments (whether they are in summer or not) have a very useful purpose.  Without them we cannot do our best work.  To everyone out there, before summer ends: put your devices away, have nothing in your pockets, and just go be a kid again for awhile.  Have no real purpose.  Let the summer breezes and sounds clear your mind.  Be carefree for once.  You will thank yourself later, believe me.

For sunset I went to a nearby viewpoint that shows the huge area of landslide debris from the 1980 eruption that filled the North Fork Toutle River Valley.  This created Coldwater Lake, which is just out of view to the left.

For sunset I went to a nearby viewpoint that shows the huge area of landslide debris from the 1980 eruption that filled the North Fork Toutle River Valley. This created Coldwater Lake, which is just out of view to the left.

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18 responses to “Carefree at Coldwater Lake

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  1. It’s no small thing to have your cares melt away. Great photos.

  2. I can smell the fresh air all the way over here on the east coast. Lovely views.

  3. What a beautiful landscape created by a violent past. If you take another left turn into the Columbia River Gorge, I can show you other landscapes created in violence! I am Monica Joy Felt, MJF to you, and am a newly returning native of The Dalles Oregon after a 20 yr. hiatus. I would love to meet someone who is able to trot around and record beautiful images for a living. I would like to find a way to explore and share this landscape with the public as a guide service, and am working on being a painter.

    • Thanks so much Monica. I love the Gorge too. In fact I consider the western Gorge my backyard (I live in E. Port.). I was out your way (the Dalles) a lot this past spring. I too am thinking of taking the workshop plunge, but it would have to be a different take than all the other photo workshops.

  4. Sounds like a fantastic carefree moment, and that lake looks beautiful in your photos. I love the third shot with the scattered logs. Nice work and thanks for stopping by my blog.

  5. What a wonderful place! I like all the pics – the last one steals my breath away!

  6. breathtaking shots. Kept staring at them. Superb job !!!

  7. Stunning scenic captures.

  8. Wonderful shots!! I only live 3 hours to the north and have yet to visit. But I do remember the eruption well. I was a senior in high school getting ready to graduate.

    Where abouts do you hail from?

    Check out my submissions for “Carefree:” http://wp.me/pEP2O-Ux

  9. That last photo is magic, so much detail in a landscape shot – you even got the moon. Great composition too… I could go on.

  10. Your pictures perfectly matches your feelings!

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