A Rainy Alpine Hike on Mt. St. Helens


Due to large floods and rock slides a few years ago, the six-mile road to the Sheep Canyon Trailhead on Mt. St. Helens is impassable beyond about 1.5 miles.

On the last weekend of spring, I parked alongside the road not far from the 3,200-foot Blue Lake Trailhead. Instead of heading north and hiking the 11-mile Sheep Canyon Loop, I turned east for two miles.

Turning uphill, I hiked by Butte Camp Dome to the Loowit Trail (the round-the-mountain trail that stays mostly at the alpine level.) The meadows along the middle section of the 2 1/2 mile Butte Camp Trail were lush with grasses and false hellebore. Several horse camps were in the area.

At the Loowit Trail intersection I should have had full and unobstructed views of the volcano’s summit. But not this day. Although I was treated to a few sun breaks after a while.

Soon I began heading north along the flanks of the mountain. In several places the Loowit Trail had been washed out causing me to scramble down and up the crumbly walls of ravines. There was a cold wind coming out of the north but at least it had quit raining.

After 1 1/2 miles I found a sheltered spot and ate a small lunch. Even with the clouds, the views were spectacular.

After a long break I hiked the six miles back to the trailhead, enjoying the nice variety of colorful wildflowers along the trail.

Loowit Trail

Loowit Trail heading south

A wet Cat's-ear Lily

A wet Cat’s-ear Lily

Upper flanks of Mt. St. Helens

Upper flanks of Mt. St. Helens

Wet Penstemon

Wet Penstemon

It used to be the parking area for the Blue Lake Trailhead

It used to be the parking area for the Blue Lake Trailhead (since the eruption the area sees lots of significant erosion)

Deep gully in the Toutle Trail

Deep gully in the Toutle Trail (the trail has not been rebuilt)

Plush meadows near Butte Camp

Plush meadows near Butte Camp

Paintbrush

Paintbrush

Pinesap

Pinesap

A glimpse of the summit of Mt. St. Helens

A glimpse of the summit of Mt. St. Helens

Natural arch along the trail

Natural arch along the trail

Alpine

Silverback Luina

Alpine

?

 

 

Categories: Washington Cascades HikesTags: , , ,

4 comments

  1. John,
    This was the first time I ever saw a question mark for the name of a flower. You have amazing knowledge of the great outdoors. To think I once wanted to be a ranger naturalist at Sequoia, I did get my Boy Scout Merit Badge for Bird watching and ID’ing.
    God Bless

    Ed Lyon
    Community Director, FCA Ventura County
    P.O. Box 6033, Ventura, CA 93006
    805-746-4725
    elyon@fca.org

    See our Vision
    http://www.venturacountyfca.org

    FCA UCLA Sports Camp
    http://www.vimeo.com/35350998

    For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” Mathew 6:21
    Please Donate: http://www.venturacountyfca.org/Ed

    Like

    • Actually, I think the wildflower is a member of the Phlox family. But, I never could locate it.

      Thanks for the kind words Ed. Just remember, it’s never too late to get into the outdoors. You have some beautiful areas near you.

      Like

  2. Outstanding John

    Like

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