A Regenerating Dip in Coldwater Lake

Three years after bacteria and microorganisms naturally colonized the lake and fed on organic matter, Coldwater Lake was as clear as it is today.

Coldwater Lake

In the midst of Washington’s record-breaking hot summer, we found the perfect solution while camping near Mount St. Helen. Just before you reach the Johnstone Ridge Observatory, there’s a sign denoting Coldwater Lake. As we passed it many times without paying much attention, we decided to grab our hiking boots and packs and take a look at the lake. We arrived early which turned out to be fortunate as it turns out to be a very popular place during the summer.

The Coldwater Lake was created during the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, which blocked its natural outlet, Coldwater Creek, with volcanic debris. Over the next few months, almost 100,000 acre-feet of water collected to form a lake 5 miles in length. At the rate the lake was filling, it was anticipated to overtop the landslide dam by late 1981 or 1982. If the natural dam had been breached it would have been yet another catastrophe for the communities downstream. A spillway was constructed to stabilize the lake and it was this effort that allowed us to hike its shoreline in the summer heat.

coldwater lake
On the nearly five miles of trails in Lewis and Clark State Park, Theresa stands in front of an old-growth Douglas Fir..

It was while we were at the far end of the lake that we came across a nice little cove shielded from the trail by vegetation. Several logs from the 1980 eruption line the slopes surrounding the lake, and some of these make for perfect picnic spots. It was while having lunch that we started to eye the cool waters and abrupt drop-off leading to deeper water just in front of us. It wasn’t long before we were in the refreshing waters swimming and diving.

Support

Our mission is a labor of love, but it does come with overhead. If you’d like to support our efforts we’d certainly appreciate it. Currently, we’re actively participating in the following field research:

  • COASST Beached Bird Surveys
  • Wild and Scenic River Project

Thank you.

advertisement

Three years after bacteria and microorganisms naturally colonized the lake and fed on organic matter, Coldwater Lake was as clear as it is today.

Affiliates

We are the learned society for geography and geographers.
as-seal-gr
Working to provide opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts to make a difference as they play in the outdoors.
coasst-logo
Working to translate long-term monitoring into effective marine conservation solutions.
Sea Grant Washington
Provide integrated research, communication, and education to coastal communities that lead to the responsible use of the nation’s oceans.

Latest Instagram

Theresa is gazing at sunset while beachcombing. The clouds added a wonderful touch of drama to the scene. ...

Theresa is looking downstream at Murhat Falls. This waterfall is easy to drive to and an easy hike in the Olympic National Forest. ...

Skate Creek runs alongside Forest Road 52 in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This was just one of the many photographic sites that can be accessed from the road. ...

Murhut Falls and its pool are nestled in the Olympic National Forest, not far from Dosewallips State Park. ...

Winter storm making landfall just south of Cape Flattery. This part of the Pacific Northwest can see some powerful storms. ...

An unnamed creek and a small waterfall that you can find along the Steam Donkey Loop trail, which starts within the Dosewallips State Park of Washington ...

Footsteps and a sunset over the Pacific Ocean. ...

Early morning sunshine filtered through the trees and reflected off the upper portion of Murhut waterfall ...

Theresa sitting under Murhut Falls, enjoying the beauty of the forest. ...

Found this small dam in the hills behind our camp on Hood Canal. At one time, it appears to have been used by a homestead to hold water during the summer months. #washingtonstateparks ...

A photographer takes a photo and becomes the subject himself. ...

“How We Survived a Slight Derailment on Tower Rock” was published on our website. You'll find a gallery of all photographs in the article towards the bottom of the page. I'd love to hear your thoughts or comments. You can find our URL in the bio. ...

Lewis and Clark State Park

We found ourselves in a new campground for this outing; the  Lewis and Clark State Park. Despite its close proximity to Interstate 5, I was pleasantly surprised by the old-growth and ‘wild’ feeling of the park. If fact it was established in 1922 for just that reason, containing one of the last intact stands of old-growth forest remaining in the Cowlitz Valley.

Before its membership into the State Park system, it was actually part of the old north spur of the Oregon Trail, which extended from the Cowlitz River landing to the city of Tumwater. When pioneers used this road, ramps had to be built over some of the downed logs (six to nine feet in diameter), since they had no saws capable of cutting the giants.

advertisement

Please share this:

More to explore

Dosewallips Fall
Journal

Incredible Waterfall Hidden Right Under My Nose

I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve driven past this unassuming trail-head. Nothing outstanding or unusual about it; identical to the hundreds, if not thousands, I’ve gone by every weekend here in the Pacific Northwest. But this one had a secret, a spectacular secret; Rocky Brook Falls.

Read More »

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.