On Friday evening 14 July, I noticed I had a test from my friends Linda and Roger – they were asking if I wanted to do the 28 Mile Loowit trail around Mount St Helens the following day. I’d need to arrive at there house about nine hours later. I decided, sure, why not. My wife Mary Ellen was fine with this, although it confirmed her suspicions that I’m slightly crazy. I signed up for my first UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge.
I have most gear ready to go… until I picked up my Salomon vest pack (about one year old) and had the shoulder strap fall apart. Well, time to dust off my old Gregory pack, 13 years old, but still functional. Carried my OR bivy sack on the bottom of the pack and hung a warmer jacket on the pack. Added a little extra food than I would normally carry on an all day run. Here’s my gear:
Our trip – Summary
Linda, Roger, and I started out from the June Lake trail head at 8:16 AM Saturday. We started counterclockwise on the Loowit trail about 9:09 AM Saturday and completed the Loowit about 7:07 PM Sunday, about 33:58. We were at the car about 7:54 PM. We went about 20 miles the first day, camped just after crossing the South Toutle river, and hiked 12 miles the second day. There were a few technical challenges, most interesting was entering, crossing and leaving the South Toutle river. I liked these challenges, Linda gave me a new name: Pumice Dancer. Here is our route, using a GPX file that Roger created:
Many thanks to my ultrarunning mentors Roger Johnson and Jeff Wright, along with fast packing mentoring from Linda. Really appreciate the UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge community for advice and encouragement.
Trip – Lessons Learned
What went well
- UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenges are fun and challenging
- Fast packing worked out pretty well
- Have gear ready to go is nice, including extra gear
- No stove was no problem for an overnight
Areas to improve
- Need to obtain and learn to use a GPS unit (in addition to map and compass)
- Should have worn running tights for evening and morning
- Didn’t need to have my bivy bag in its own zippered bag.
- Had enough food but could have worked in a better variety
Trip – Some Details and Photos
I’m adding some more photos with brief descriptions, these are sequential from start to finish.
Linda and Roger at our first major channel crossing, we did quite a few of these. I earned the name Pumice Dancer from Linda for my love of these…
Still some snow left on the Loowit Trail but nothing too bad.
Myself, Linda, and Roger on the dry east side of Mount St Helens. We had great weather as we circled the volcano.
Climbing up to Windy Pass, Mount Adams in the background. We had great views of Adams and Rainier throughout the day.
First view of Spirit Lake. On the left side of the lake is Harry’s Ridge, which I hiked two days before. I remember looking out from Harry’s Ridge thinking: “Boy, it would be fun to hike around Mount St Helens.” Here I was doing it two days later, thanks to Linda and Roger.
In the blast zone…
Ready to cross the South Fork Toutle river, near the end of a great day.
We had to use ropes that were installed four times, they were very useful.
No words required…
We ran into runners training for the Volcanic 50K race on 5 August. They are part of the Go Beyond Racing group and I managed to get some good photos to them. I volunteering to carry water up to the Ape canyon aid station with some of them on 29 July.
Rock hopping time… I liked this for some crazy reason.
Made lots of botanical observations (that will be a separate post). This is my favorite, bluebells (Campanula rotundifolia) which I observed only on these south side rocks.