The view was pretty amazing. To see the direction of the explosion to the North and all that it took out—including what was left of Spirit Lake—was breathtaking. Looking back towards the south, it was very clear where the mud flow from the eruption ended and forest began. Standing on top of a volcano that erupted not too long ago was a certainly a privilege not to be taken for granted.
The descent down was twice as grueling. With no snow pack, there was no chance of glissading down. The sun was now up and scorching despite the early morning hours. Water breaks and hiding behind boulders for some shade came more often and left us silent from exhaustion. It nearly broke our spirits at one point thinking we were never going to make it down. When we finally reached the forest line, we thought the last two miles would be easier. But it wasn’t. It felt like the longest two miles of our lives. When we finally made it back to the trailhead, I dropped my pack and wanted to yell Andy Samberg style and walk away.
Looking back, it was a humbling experience. Whatever assumptions I had about my physical and mental abilities were tested to the max. I had been there before, but in a more controlled setting. Adding the beast that is nature was a whole new challenge. But I can thankfully cross this volcano off my list and look back, shake my fist at it, and say, “I walked on your face!”
This also marks just 7 days until STP. By the end of July I am pretty sure the reply I'll have to how I'm feeling will be this.