MSH west side, 8/23/11

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cfm
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MSH west side, 8/23/11

Post by cfm » August 24th, 2011, 7:32 pm

I had a wonderful hike Tuesday on the west side of MSH. I have never been on this side of the mountain, it seems quieter.

There is quite a network of trails here, offering multiple loop options. My loop was counter clockwise starting at the Blue Lake TH ( No Forest Pass required). All of the junctions were well signed and the stream crossings had cairns marking the best route.

Look at all the possibilities:

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The first leg was the Toutle Trail 238- I headed southeasterly towards the Butte Camp Trail 238 A. It rolls through a young forest which has some ripe huckleberries, then into some nice old growth.

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Most of the elevation gain was on the climb up the Butte Camp trail 238A, through the lovely.... Butte Camp, a big meadowy area with multiple idyllic campsites. This area has little streams running though it and could be boggy in the early season, but it is dried out now- I did not notice many bugs.

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I met a trail crew clearing logs, and headed up around the forested summit of Butte Camp Dome. You get to climb through a nice stand of big noble firs on the western slope of the dome . Then you pop out for the view portion of the hike, climbing another half mile to the Loowit Trail junction.
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New flower for me, I do believe it's a member of the Leptodactylon genus, possibly "granite gilia" , but there is no granite round here! Anyhow, it's certainly in the Polemoniaceae family and related to phlox:

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There were clouds to the south and west, but look at this view northeast:

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I turned north on the Loowit trail 216 and moved slowly through a stunning alpine wonderland.

Lots of rock gradens to consider:

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Hey, I think I see Bosterson!

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I found a perfect lunch spot and after eating, I took a refreshing 15 minute Shavasana. The temps were perfect- a light breeze, and no bugs. One of life's greatest pleasure is taking a relaxing meditation (you can call it a nap if you wish) on a mountain. Truly restorative. It’s interesting to note that only 5 days ago I was on Mt Hood in the same elevation range and the bugs were horrible. There were no mosquitos here today, and I was annoyed for about 30 minutes by a few black flies near the upper section of Sheep Canyon.

Look at this great view of Goat Mountain and Goat Marsh! Don, I’m going there soon.

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Another thing spotted from this trail to the northwest is Castle Ridge and Spud Mountain, which show that they were on the edge of the blast zone- unfortunately getting here is tricky. You need to start from 504, and I think they are on DNR land, but access is through Weyerhauser logging roads, so a key or a mountain bike might be required, or go during hunting season when they open the gates- yahoo-but don't forget your Discovery Pass!

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There is a big washout before Sheep Canyon- pretty impressive.
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Here's a view of Sheep Canyon:

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I turned westerly on the Sheep Canyon Trail 240 yes, I had a look into the canyon, but the indelible memory for me was the old growth forest here- it's BIG on so many ways that my camera just could not express. Mostly noble firs and hemlocks- big and going strong- with some giant Doug firs and cedars hanging around too. It was magical. One section had absolutely no shrubby undergrowth- just a few baby trees and a carpet of oxalis. This is where I would live if I were a sasquatch. Roman- it’s time to come back!!

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My gps said 14.2 miles, but I added a few side trips and backtracks, so my guess is the loop is about 13 miles with 2000 ft elevation gain.
Last edited by cfm on August 24th, 2011, 8:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Roy
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Re: MSH west side, 8/23/11

Post by Roy » August 24th, 2011, 7:43 pm

Nice did you find wild strawberries? Isn't it cool how when you that circumvent MSH how different it is after traveling just a couple miles. I know where my wife will be headed with berries coming on now.

Thanks for sharing always enjoy your trs you have steered me to couple new places.


Tom
The downhill of the mind is harder than the uphill of the body. - Yuichiro Miura

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Bosterson
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Re: MSH west side, 8/23/11

Post by Bosterson » August 24th, 2011, 8:46 pm

cfm wrote: Hey, I think I see Bosterson!

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:lol:

Looks like you got out there after the clouds broke, so if it's before 4pm, I'm probably up there somewhere.
#pnw #bestlife #bitingflies #favoriteyellowcap #neverdispleased

cfm
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Re: MSH west side, 8/23/11

Post by cfm » August 24th, 2011, 10:25 pm

Actually I have a really good zoom feature on my camera. This must be you.
Bosterson.jpg

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IDratherbehiking
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Re: MSH west side, 8/23/11

Post by IDratherbehiking » August 24th, 2011, 10:39 pm

Actually I have a really good zoom feature on my camera. This must be you.
^ ^ ^ Hahaha! :lol:

I love this trip report, thanks for sharing!

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bobcat
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Re: MSH west side, 8/23/11

Post by bobcat » August 25th, 2011, 8:31 am

Your report reminds I need to do this loop again - of course, that section of the Toutle Trail was closed for a couple years recently. Glad to see it's been repaired. It is one of those unheralded, but very rewarding hikes on this side of St. Helens. Great job of showcasing it!

The biggest noble firs in the world are in the Blue Lake/Goat Mountain Area. They are a treat in themselves.

Your flower? Nuttall's linanthus (Leptosiphon nuttallii).

John

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romann
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Re: MSH west side, 8/23/11

Post by romann » August 26th, 2011, 12:49 pm

Fun report and nice pictures! I agree CFM - it's the time for me to go back there (as well as 3-4 dozen of other nice hikes - now who wouldn't wish it was August all year long :) ). It was cool to be a little lost in snow among those giants, but having a clear trail and seeing all the variety of terrain is a different kind of fun. I'll definitely revisit the area in mid-October when all the vine maples near Sheep Canyon will turn red and orange.

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Crusak
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Re: MSH west side, 8/23/11

Post by Crusak » August 26th, 2011, 5:49 pm

IDratherbehiking wrote:
Actually I have a really good zoom feature on my camera. This must be you.
^ ^ ^ Hahaha! :lol:

I love this trip report, thanks for sharing!
Ditto! :) The MSH area looks so amazing. Great report.
Jim's Hikes

Solvitur Ambulando

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