On the morning of the last day of 2014, we put on our hiking boots and headed out as the sun cast a pink hue across Portland. We were aimed for Mt. St. Helens, the volcano in Washington that erupted in 1980. Just 50 miles northeast of Portland, I had never been and we wanted to end the year with an adventure. And snow. Elena had never seen snow, so we threw her nap schedule to the wind and headed east through the Columbia Gorge then north at the Bridge of the Gods.
It was a beautiful, sunny day and, as we drove towards the mountain, the temperature dropped until we eventually hit snow. I love living close enough to snow to be able to enjoy it during the winter, while not having to deal with it on a daily basis. Infrequent encounters have left me with a sense of awe and respect, especially when it comes to driving in the snow. The moment tires transition from pavement to ice and the trees around weigh heavy with snow, I am filled with a sense of calm - and apprehension.
We drove through several snow parks until we came to the first lookout point with a clear view of the peak. Many of the roads on the north side of the mountain were closed and we missed the view of the crater going in from the south. We drove past lakes and reservoirs and people sledding down large hills. We eventually made our way to the side of the mountain and found a trailhead. Preparing to hike with a baby is something we still have to fine-tune and, by the time we had prepared ourselves and fed, changed, and bundled Elena, there wasn't time for an extensive hike before we needed to head back. Still, we enjoyed the time out, hiking among the snowy trees and watching a red-nosed Elena gaze at the white world around her on the last day of the year.