Trip Report    

Backpack - Coldwater Peak

We hiked up the South Coldwater trail and camped two nights at Ridge Camp. On the in between day we had spectacular day hiking up to the Boundary trail, Coldwater saddle and partially up Coldwater Peak.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
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    We hiked up to Ridge Camp at 4,100 feet Tuesday in light intermittent rain and drizzle with only a very few snow patches to cross.  Then we barely got our tents pitched before a big downpour which pinned us down in our tents for considerable time. By mid-evening the drizzle stopped and after a cold night we awakened to beautiful sky’s on Wednesday morning. The timing was perfect because this was the day we had planned to day hike into the higher country with the hopes of reaching the top of Coldwater Peak.  As we gained elevation we were challenged with route finding issues due to the amount of remaining snow but we ultimately did find our way up to the Coldwater saddle and to the partially melted out trail leading up the peak.  The travel continued to be slow up the peak due to navigating through the many snowfields and at 500 feet below the summit we turned around primarily due to slow travel, still potentially difficult snow fields in front of us and the concern over the time of day.  But all efforts to get to this point were well worth it for the experience gained and the remarkable scenery looking at Mt St Helens, the enormous blast zone and all the tall rugged peaks in the Mt Margaret back country.  
    Back at camp we made the decision to break camp and return to the trailhead at first light in the morning of our third day instead of spending a leisurely morning around camp and then hiking out as originally planned.  This was because we thought we may have a chance of beating a storm front that was forecasted to come in overnight. It did not work because by 1:30am the wind gusts were howling and by 4:30am it was pouring down rain.  So our third day was packing up in the rain shortly after daybreak and quickly hiking back to the trailhead. 



Despite the inclement weather challenges and the sometimes difficult snow travel all participants contributed greatly to the trips success and fun.  It was a great group effort and it was the participants who really made the trip a success. 
Ridge Camp is a dry camp and we fully expected and were prepared to melt snow for our water source but we were lucky as there were some pools of water from the snowfields that provided an adequate source. This will be gone soon with a little warm weather. 
It was just a bit early in the season for this route which tops out at 5,700 feet at the summit. We turned around at 5,200 feet.  The whole trail should be melted out within another month. 
Again, a great trip despite being just a little early in the season for this particular route.  It still provided terrific scenery even without getting all the way up the trail to Coldwater Peak.