(Mount St Helens Photos) Loowit Trail

  The Mount St. Helens area has and always will draw me to her.  Who can't help being in complete awe of such destruction from the eruption.   She went off a few weeks after I was born.  The draw to my soul is so overwhelming with such spiritual power that words can't describe.

  This backpacking trip would all be a part in the growth of my minimalist journey.  What energy's would I feel putting my feet in her ash for so many miles?

dome camp
Mother Earth watches over our bodies.  Keep our dreams safe this night as we sleep.

  A friend asked me back in winter to join her for an adventure.  She had dreams about walking the Loowit Trail; which is a 32 mile loop around Mount St. Helens.  I of coarse accepted such awesome chance for an unique journey.

  Thinking about it in the weeks to follow.  I suggested an extension to that route; since feeling it wasn't enough distance for the days allotted.

  A double loop could be done with the Loowit Trail and in the 30 mile Mount Margaret Backcountry Area.  With these 2 loops an 'out and back' section in the 6 mile middle must be done to form sort of a 'figure 8' on the map.

  The Forest Service questionably does not set this up for you to easily be able to connect the two loops.  Since  the whole north end of the mountain is strictly prohibited camping.  This makes for a 14 hour day for us through desert like terrain, endless gullies to traverse, with limited  drinking water and no trees to shade the sun.

hike mount helens map
68 miles ( 20,000' + accent estimated - haven't added it up yet )

  This indeed would be an epic route and asked if she was up for the challenge.   She cautiously accepted; since this would be her first distance backpacking trip.

  If we would of known the ruggedness of the trail in the north end of the Mount Margaret Area.  Would have for sure planned a 'zero day' to give our bodies rest from the physical demand need to finish this route.

loowit trail
First steps on the Loowit Trail 

Loowit Trail
Representing the next few hours of  lava balancing act

Loowit Trail
The end is near for the night from the lava

backpacking mount st. helens Loowit Trail
One of the many gullies to cross for the evening

Loowit Trail
Gully scramble 

Loowit Trail sunset
Listening to Elk 'bark' as the sun resides

Loowit Trail footwear
Volcanic backpacking with my Luna Sandals

Loowit Trail
Enjoying the wildflowers 

Loowit Trail sunset
as time goes still 

Loowit Trail terrain
evening gully scramble 

Loowit Trail hiking
around the next ridge 

mount st. helens sunset
Sunset - the next 2 hours was all via headlamp until we hit the sleeping bags at Midnight. 

mount st. helens wildflowers
Early morning meadows

Loowit Trail
Saying hello to the Toutle River Crossing from high above.  Time for the long descent below

Loowit Trail
Toutle River scramble to get to the ford

toutle river ford
Toutle River Ford - water is actually warm compared to the Olympic Mountains

toutle river crossing
Toutle River crossing ascent.  Rocks toward the top are kind of sketchy if you dont like heights

Loowit Trail
Almost back to the rim of the Toutle 

toutle river landscape
Lots of earth flowed down the Toutle River from the eruption 

Loowit Trail footwear
Chameleon Vibram Fivefinger Seeya against the Ash 

Loowit Trail
Path next to all that destruction.  Powerful feelings

Loowit Trail
First views of the Mount Margaret Backcountry on the horizon 

Loowit Trail
crossing Pumice Plain

hiking mount st. helens
Looking for the best crossing - water was full of warm ash

hiking spirit lake
first steps off the Loowit Trail - Spirit Lake dead ahead

backpacking mount st. helens
Ascending toward the Boundary Trail - Its been hours without  much water

johnson ridge hiking
Walking into the mist

mount st. helens eruption damage
This piece of logging equipment didn't make it

mount st. helens bushwhacking
this picture represents the rest of the day on the 'trail'

hiking cold water creek
Cold Water Creek 

Lakes Trail #211
Up and up on a primitive route 

Lakes Trail #211
Game trail bushwhacking

Lakes Trail #211
Primitive Backpacking with the Luna Leadville

Lakes Trail #211
Lots of gullies to traverse in the jungle

Lakes Trail #211
Gully scrambling - don't look down

Lakes Trail #211
Ascending the jungle

Lakes Trail #211
Snow Lake - time for laundry, a bath and food

Snow Lake Campsite
Home - Gossamer Gear Squall (no longer available) - thanks to Nivaun for the borrow 

mount whitter trail
Attempting the Mount Whitter 'Trail' - turned around at a washed out gully - not worth risking serious injury - this would add 5 more miles to the day

Lakes Trail #211
Shovel Lake

Lakes Trail #211
Walking toward Panhandle Lake

Lakes Trail #211
Creek hopping

Lakes Trail #211

Lakes Trail #211
Descending toward Obscurity Lake 

Lakes Trail #211
Log filled Grizzly Lake

Lakes Trail #211
Ascending the Boundary Trail after climbing Bear Pass - Spirit Lake and St. Helens to the left

Boundary Trail #1
Many lingering snowfields 

Boundary Trail #1
Wildflower filled route with views of Spirit Lake and St. Helens 

Boundary Trail #1
Looking across to our route 2 days ago

Boundary Trail #1
Home at sunset with views of Meanie Peak

Mount Margaret sunset
Minnie Peak at sunset

Boundary Trail #1
Window views at sunset

mount margaret sunrise
Sunrise from bed

St. Helens Lake
St. Helens Lake with views of the mountain and Spirit Lake

Coldwater Peak
Into the pass - completing our Mount Margaret Backcountry Loop section - time to walk the few miles down to the Loowit Trail and finish that loop

Boundary Trail footwear
Miles and miles in ash - Luna Leadville ATS

Loowit Trail backpacking
Happy to see the Loowit Trail again after a few days away from her

Loowit Trail
Ascending the Loowit Trail again

Windy Pass Helens
Ascending Windy Pass - looking back at which we came

Plains of Abraham
Looking down at the Plains of Abraham from Windy Pass

Loowit Trail
Descending Windy Pass - this was fun for me in Huaraches 

plains of abraham backpacking
Easy going on the Plains of Abraham 

Loowit Trail ape
Mount St. Helens alpenglow from camp

Loowit Trail sunrise
Sunrise - just see Mount Adams above the clouds

Loowit Trail
finishing out the last 10 miles

Loowit Trail backpacking

Loowit Trail hiking
This represents the next few hours - sweet 'trail'

Loowit Trail hiking
Last section - little did she know that the finial section was all switchbacks - 1 miles straight up 

barefoot jake
Happy to finish the Loowit Trail Loop

Loowit Trail #216
2 loops completed - Loowit Trail & Mount Margaret backcounty - 6 days of non-stop walking

climbers bivouac trail
See ya later

food Cougar, Wa
A little lunch - best patty melt of my life in Cougar, Wa

food cougar, wa
I may have needed a straw for this

Overall it was a nice adventure. I would like to go back and walk the Loowit Trail again in the future. It was a fun experience.

Updated August 2016