Mount Saint Helens Club Campout - July 9th - July 13th, 2013
Narration by Lois Soulia and Diane Rannow and pictures by Diane Rannow

On July 9, Susanne and Lois arrived in the Cougar RV Park and picked out the site for the club’s annual campout, Diane had already contacted the park and left the choice of site to the first to arrive. They picked the shadiest site closest to the restroom. Jennifer’s carload and Edwin’s arrived next followed by Diane and Nettie arriving later in the day.

Lois, Susanne, Edwin and Phil set out that afternoon to explore Ape Cave, which they did mostly from the outside as they took the wrong entrance. They decided a downhill climb in the dark was not safe so they explored just a small portion. Jennifer’s group went swimming at the Cougar Park about a mile from the campground.

The next day, Jennifer, Merle, Edwin and John summited Mt. St. Helens. They reported it was not an easy climb but all made it to the top where they could peer over the edge of the crater. It is a 9.4 mile climb with a 4500 foot elevation gain. They took the Ptarmigan Trail from Climbers Bivouac to the top! Congratulations to the fearless four.

Meanwhile Susanne, Lois and Phil hiked the Ptarmigan trail to where it crosses the Loowit trail, then took the Loowit to the west then to the east to where it heads down to June Lake (across many jumbled rocky fields.) After that they took the long road to Spirit Lake access where Phil got almost to the water, and then on to Windy Ridge with the wonderful view of the Mountain’s blasted side. During this time, Diane and Nettie and Janet explored the Lewis River Waterfalls.

The next day after a restless night for many of the campers, the group tackled Lava Canyon. It is an exciting hike with many outstanding features; the raging river as it bounces along the canyon in a string of colossal waterfalls, a suspension bridge, a steep narrow cliff walk with a steep ladder climb and a terrific geological feature known as the “ship”. Some members of the group with acrophobia turned around past the bridge but others earned the full experience. The road connecting the trailheads is un-navigable for a car and made a shuttle impossible so the intrepid hikers faced a hot uphill climb on the way back. Meanwhile Susanne and Lois had their own adventure exploring the Lewis river Falls. They were looking for shade and water, found those in the marvelous falls but lost each other for a time. (Old Hiker Rule: when separated, return to the place where you were last together.) 2nd Hiker rule: keep together or take the radios).

After exploring Lava Canyon, Diane, Nettie & Janet made a short foray into Lower Ape Cave. Then they enjoyed the Trail of Two Forests, a short interpretive trail through a section of lava tree casts.
Jennifer’s groups swam again.

On the third day, Diane and Nettie decided to seek the comforts of home in light of the information of an impending “church” group of campers heading in to an already crowded campground. It turned out that the church group wasn’t the noisy ones. Actually in view of the fact that there were only two showers and two sets of toilets, things did work out well with little or no waiting for showers or toilets. Although eventually heading home, Jennifer’s group first headed north to the Johnston Ridge Observatory. After watching a dramatic movie of the eruption, they did some hiking, had a tail gate lunch and then headed home.

That day, Friday, Edwin, Phil, Susanne and Lois went to June Lake and climbed on the Loowit trail below the mountain. It is a beautiful lake with two waterfalls supplying a deep green pool and a creek which has carved a canyon down from it. From there, they explored some of the Ape Canyon trail which provided magnificent views of the mountain and the Muddy River’s vast lahar. . They finished the day with a stop at Trail of Two Forests.

The next day, the “die hards” took off for the return to home feeling satisfied with their camping trip.

  • Lower Lewis River Waterfall
  • Nettie & Janet by the Upper Lewis River Waterfall
  • Mt St Helens near the Lava Canyon trailhead
  • Lava Canyon waterfalls
  • Cliff edge trail
  • Trail to The Ship, a 100 ft. lava plug in the middle of lava canyon
  • Lava Canyon by first bridge
  • Nettie in Ape Cave

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Roseburg Oregon Hiking Club
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