When it comes time to plan the next outing, there is nothing better than getting an enticing invite for adventure.
Ben shows up in my inbox, "...interested in re-branding next Saturday or Sunday as Saint Helen's day and going for a 'you shouldn't be able to do this in February' run around the volcano on the Loowit Trail?"
What a silly question.
It was an amazing day with lots of solitude, elk and mountain goats.
Relevant trail conditions:
- Snow: patchy, maybe 1/2-mile total, mostly on the south, southwest and southeast sides; never needed the microspikes we carried all day, though.
- Blowdowns: maybe 10? Few new ones, no issues.
- Ravines: it appears that heavy rain runoff or ground saturation has caused real erosion and washout issues. Many of the descents and ascents into the valleys are more difficult than normal (according to Ben, his third loop 'round), with a couple being completely gone (and the ones that are OK are frozen dirt). The worst is the Shoestring Glacier valley which requires a long but straightforward detour (see GPS file at bottom).
|Trail up from Marble Mountain Sno Park to the Loowit|
|Looking south to Mt. Hood|
|One of the early, and easy, ravine crossings|
|Goats and Mt. Rainer, looking across the Toutle River drainage|
|Looking across the Toutle at the trail climbing out|
|Descending to the Toutle|
|The descent into the Toutle; Ben's photo|
|The benched trail is pretty much a slope now; climbing out of the Toutle|
|Some big bulls in there|
|Above the Toutle|
|Looking into the breach with a little steam coming out of the lava dome|
|Ben, Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier and Spirit Lake|
|Stayed dry; Ben's photo|
|Climbing to Windy Pass, center|
|Windy Pass; Ben's photo|
|At Windy Pass|
|"Action Ben" descending to the Plains of Abraham|
|Descending to the Plains of Abraham; Ben's photo|
|Enjoying the Plains of Abraham|
|Plains of Abraham; Ben's photo|
|Making up for the goats I didn't see in the Olympics|
|Just showing off...|
|Shoestring Glacier valley; regular trail on descent and far side ascent gone|
|Nope, high route not going to go|
|Dropping in ~.75m below the regular trail|
|Shoestring Glacier valley|
|Detouring through the valley bottom|
|Easy ascent out|
|Mt. Hood in the afternoon|
|Pretty cool huge ant hill|
|June Lake and waterfall|
|Nothing like sitting in a parking lot at the end of a long day (as long as it's followed with burgers and fries)|