2019.06.29-30 Loowit Trail

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2019.06.29-30 Loowit Trail

Post by mrblisterdundee » July 2nd, 2019, 8:26 am

After doing most of it in sections as part of other hikes, I decided it was time to complete the Loowit Trail around Mount St. Helens. My buddy Matt, itching to backpack, joined me at the last minute and made the experience all the more enjoyable.
We started at June Lake and headed counter-clockwise. The plan was to do nearly the first two-thirds in the first day and camp south of the S. Toutle River.
June Lake.jpg
The weather was perfect, partially sunny with the orb hidden behind some clouds. A visit to the Plains of Abraham a couple of weeks ago left me wanting for wildflowers. They popped early and often this time around.
Helens on flowers.jpg
Lupine bee.jpg
We hiked up Windy Pass — totally free of snow — took a brief wrong turn about 500 feet higher in elevation and got a pretty good view of the plains and Mt. Adams to the east.
Abraham and Adams.jpg
We followed the tracks of an ATV that had gone to check a seismographic tool back to Windy Pass. A little later, a small heard of mountain goats appeared on St. Helens, munching away on the turf.
Goats on a hill.jpg
We descended into the Blast Zone and were treated to peak wildflowers.
Hogsback flowers.jpg
Windy Ridge flowers.jpg
We took a side-jaunt up to Loowit Falls before crossing the blast zone to some amazing views of the crater.
Cloudy crater online.jpg
The sun started to set as we made our way into the canyon of the Toutle River.
Toutle Canyon online.jpg
Water sources included a spring just south of the Plains of Abraham, along with a couple of creeks in the blast zone. I waited until the Toutle to refill. We set our hammocks up in some trees just south to the river, drank some beer and ate some couscous. A spongy moss covered the ground, providing a soft carpet we could gratefully walk around on in socks.
With detours, we ended up hiking about 21 to 22 miles Saturday, with another 11 to 12 to finish Sunday. My cheapo Stansport backpack sat improperly and strained my shoulders, while my Hi-Tec trail-running shoes messed my toes up and left me with some seriously sore feet. Still enjoying the hike, I was too in the zone of finishing to take more than one photo once Mt. Hood came into view.
Magical trail.jpg
After that, we cross several boulder fields before dropping down to June Lake. All in all, we started at 9:30 a.m. and finished about 32 to 34 miles by 1 p.m. Sunday. Then it was a Muchas Gracias burrito in Longvgiew, Washington, and a drive back to Astoria. All in all, it was a good trip. Next circumnavigation is the Three Sisters Loop in mid-July after Oregon Country Fair.

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Re: 2019.06.29-30 Loowit Trail

Post by teachpdx » July 2nd, 2019, 9:19 am

Thanks for the TR!
Glad to see that the Loowit is in pretty great shape right now. It's definitely one of my favorite round-the-mountain trips in the PNW.

I'm well aware how tough a 2-day trip around MSH can be, and props to you for doing it.

My last 2-day was clockwise starting at Blue Lake... we took the Toutle Trail north and caught the Loowit, spent night 1 back around near Ape Canyon, and then came back down the Butte Camp Trail to Blue Lake. We were planning to go all the way to that big wash on the west side and then off-trail back to Blue Lake, but weather forced us down below timberline earlier than intended. Not technically all on the Loowit, but still a circumnavigation nonetheless.
instagram: @robo_remy

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