St Helens: June Gully (most direct rim route on MSH?)

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Chip Down
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St Helens: June Gully (most direct rim route on MSH?)

Post by Chip Down » June 15th, 2019, 9:10 pm

Well, I made an exciting discovery today. Exciting to me, anyway. YMMV.

Looking for something new to do on MSH, I noticed the gully west of June Lake holds snow a little lower than surrounding terrain (per Google Earth image). I was enticed. I followed the gully up, taking a GE tour up from June Lake. Up past the Loowit Trail crossing, up to the snow, up the winding gully to a very short bare spot which I assumed was a waterfall. Hey, wait, is that the waterfall I investigated a summer or two ago from Worm Flows? I pulled back to I could see an overview. No other waterfalls spotted, so that's probably the one.

Here's where it gets really fun: On my previous trip, I was amazed to discover the gully above the waterfall winds all the way up to the rim. But I didn't realize that below the waterfall, it's also miraculously continuous all the way down to Road 83. So that means you can follow this gully continuously from Rd 83 all the way to the crater rim! (Except for the falls, of course.)Tell me that's not exciting! I'm embarrassed I never noticed this.

I had to go check it out. I didn't start at the road; I figured it would be drudgery down there. So I cheated, hiking the June Lake trail almost to the June Creek bridge (just before the lake). I followed June Creek to the gully and confirmed what I suspected: the gully is dry above the point where June Creek dumps in. I don't know why I suspected this. Maybe because it's just the way MSH is; you don't see creeks running down her dusty rubble slopes.

I followed the gully up, along the edge rather than down in it, because the scenery was too nice to miss out on. But eventually I dropped in, first to a sandy flat bottom, and eventually snow at 4550'. I somehow managed to miss the trail crossing. I'm sure I would have seen it if I was still following the rim, but down in the gully the wasn't much sign of it. I bet there were cairns, but I wasn't watching closely enough. Anyway, as I got higher up the gully, I got spooked by rockfall. The gully floor was littered with rocks on the snow, and I witnessed two events just 5 minutes apart. Although the west edge of the gully was easier and more scenic, I've been there, so I stuck to the dusty crumbly ugly east side.

At the top of the falls, I didn't continue up. Been there, done that. Went east in search of new adventures (towards shoestring). Initially it was fun, but as I got lower I ran out of luck, and snow, and travel became increasingly treacherous. Finally made it to Loowit trail. Too crowded; I saw three hikers in the time it took me to drop out of the lava flow into the forest as I headed towards the June Lake junction. So I bailed, and hit the sloppy confusing network of ski trails, did some bushwhacking, had no idea where I was, knew if I kept going down/south I was safe, startled a bear, it scampered off. Oh, that reminds me, no goats today. Probably because my route was so rocky, just an inhospitable wasteland.
Attachments
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1.jpg
Slightly above June Lake, the gully narrowed to a slot.
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An S turn allowed me to get this look straight up the gully.
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Briefly, gully bottom was the easiest option.
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Finally on snow, starting to get out of the cloud layer.
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A little higher, looking down on the cloud zone.
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Just slightly east of the top of the falls, looking down on my route. From here, it looks like the gully isn't very distinct, but it's generally pretty easy to follow.
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A little geological whimsy.
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That moonscape landing has been on my to-do list.
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Disappointed to discover partial proceeds go to the Mount $aint Helen$ In$titute.

Webfoot
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Location: Troutdale

Re: St Helens: June Gully (most direct rim route on MSH?)

Post by Webfoot » June 15th, 2019, 9:44 pm

Interesting place. Thanks as always for sharing the experience. Those rocks do seem concerning; glad you're safe.

Also: "Disappointed to discover partial proceeds go to the Mount $aint Helen$ In$titute." :lol:

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Chip Down
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Joined: November 8th, 2014, 8:41 pm

Re: St Helens: June Gully (most direct rim route on MSH?)

Post by Chip Down » June 15th, 2019, 10:12 pm

Oh, I guess I forgot that the Shoestring gully, a little CCW from June, sort of offers a similar experience. But it gets a little jumbled, and the gully above Loowit Trail really isn't safe to climb except maybe in early spring, and it leads to an unsatisfying unusually low point on the rim. Still, strictly from a geologist's perspective, it can be considered a continuous feature from road to rim.

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retired jerry
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Re: St Helens: June Gully (most direct rim route on MSH?)

Post by retired jerry » June 16th, 2019, 5:30 am

easier to walk up gully of snow rather than if it was loose rocks?

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