Loowit Trail July 4th backpack

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aircooled
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Loowit Trail July 4th backpack

Post by aircooled » July 7th, 2013, 12:22 pm

After reading awildman's great TR on the Loowit http://www.portlandhikers.org/forum/vie ... =8&t=15980 we decided to take the long weekend and do it. The weather was perfect and the scenery spectacular, and the trail definitely lives up to it's reputation for being difficult and, in places, dangerous. One of our party had to bail on day #2 after tearing a leg muscle and another had simply had enough. A third suffered from dehydration and sunburn.

If you are reading this now or someday in the distant future, my advice:

First, this is not a strenuous backpack if you're in shape. Don't make this your first hike of the year or you won't be having fun.

Second, take the warnings about sun exposure seriously. Bring sunscreen, lip balm with a decent SPF rating and a hat. A light, ventilated longsleeved shirt is worth bringing as well.

Third, make sure you have capacity to haul a decent amount of water and remember to stay hydrated.

I did all of the above, was in good shape, yada yada, but still managed to lose my footing in a drainage where the six-inch wide trail then disappeared on the ash slope. I've never been a mountain goat and am less nimble with age. I did a nice scree glissade into the drainage but injured nothing more than my pride.

So fourth, be prepared for loose rock, ash, scree and sand all on narrow steep trails with exposure. Be ready for missing chunks of trail on steep slopes, trails that disappear in boulder fields or on featureless flats. Negotiating trails with poor footing is a little harder with a backpack on. This is one of the best backpacks I've ever done, but it has interesting challenges. And if you don't like exposure (heights), you may find yourself tested. I'm putting this all in here because even though most people on here will love the Loowit, it's not good when a friend ends up in tears on the edge of a scary ledge.

TR notes: The Shoestring creek crossing on the southeast side is dicey. We opted to detour and find another way and we saw others doing the same.

There's a rope now to help you out of the Toutle River drainage - very nice to have!

There's a reroute between Butte Camp and Sheep Canyon that takes you down one side of a drainage, across and back up the other. It adds maybe a mile or more.

No bugs on this trip! Lots of wind at Windy Pass. Anchor those tent stakes well.

No water between the Toutle and about 1/2 mile west of Loowit Creek. After that, water was not scarce.

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Our last break at 7 pm.
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Lots of photos here. No time now to post more individual shots but here's a link to public photos.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... e527b00e1e
Last edited by aircooled on July 8th, 2013, 9:22 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Waffle Stomper
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Re: Loowit Trail July 4th backpack

Post by Waffle Stomper » July 7th, 2013, 8:38 pm

That looks like quite an adventure and some of those areas look dicey. Do they allow dogs in the Monument now?
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." - John Muir

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awildman
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Re: Loowit Trail July 4th backpack

Post by awildman » July 7th, 2013, 8:41 pm

Good notes and advice, Jeff! This was my third time around the Loowit in as many years, and I would only recommend the entire loop for experienced, fit hikers who are comfortable with very dynamic conditions.

Though your group had a dog, I don't think dogs are allowed on the north side of the mountain, between the Toutle and Windy Pass. I personally wouldn't bring my dog; I don't think there are enough water sources and shade, and the tread is too harsh for their paws. It's hard enough for the humans. :)
Rambling on at Allison Outside

aircooled
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Re: Loowit Trail July 4th backpack

Post by aircooled » July 7th, 2013, 10:30 pm

awildman wrote:I don't think dogs are allowed on the north side of the mountain[/url], between the Toutle and Windy Pass. I personally wouldn't bring my dog; I don't think there are enough water sources and shade, and the tread is too harsh for their paws. It's hard enough for the humans. :)
Interesting question. Jersey is a service dog (with photo ID) and he and his trainer (one of our group) go everywhere open to the public - airplanes, museums, restaurants, etc., and Jersey has encountered rangers in wilderness areas before who gave him a pass. However, the rough terrain and the heat were hard on him and he was clearly tired on the third day, taking advantage of shade, snowbanks and streams whenever possible. He may be one of the only dogs to circumnavigate St. Helens, but I think the only thing that really excited him was a chipmunk on the Plains of Abraham.

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kepPNW
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Location: Salmon Creek

Re: Loowit Trail July 4th backpack

Post by kepPNW » July 9th, 2013, 9:59 am

Absolutely fantastic photos, Jeff! Thanks for sharing this. I'd really like to try doing that loop "one of these days" (soon!). :)
Karl
Back on the trail, again...

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mayhem
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Re: Loowit Trail July 4th backpack

Post by mayhem » July 9th, 2013, 10:22 am

What an great adventure I'm glad you made it & with a great TR to Boot! I hope your hiking friends are well & will come back stronger than ever for another challenge! Some folks do not fare too well after harsh experiences.
Shoe Shine Boy Has Left The Building!

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