Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Mt. St. Helens Circumnavigation

Mt. St. Helens Circumnavigation

On approximately Wednesday October 12th my buddy Trevor Hostetlor texted me, "Hey- weather is lookin' good next week- wanna run around Mt. St. Helens?" It didn't take me long to check w/ Erica and my other responsibilities and answer, "I'M IN!!!"
While going for a walk on Monday with my daughter Farah over the Vista Ave. bridge up the street from our home I looked over to see this view pictured above. The weather was clear, crisp, and sunny and it was supposed to be similar on our "run day".  I gave a nod and half smile to the majestic volcano knowing that I'll be getting up close and personal in less than 24 hours. This run had been on my "to do" list for some time now, and this was the perfect time to explore the spectacular national monument- "Mt. St. Helens".

Trev picked me up on Tuesday 10/18/11 at 5:30 a.m. and we high-tailed it to the June Lake Trail head and got a 7:20 a.m. start. On the way up, to my amazement, Trevor told me that this was like his 12th career circumnavigation of the mountain. In all of those times his fastest was 6 hours and 15 minutes. We thought that this would be the ideal time to get after that time and lay down a possible sub 6 hour effort.

Trevor leading the way on some technical rocky sections. Even though I accidentally left my little video camera at home I couldn't resist periodically taking out my phone from my bag and snapping some photos. This definitely slowed us down.

A couple hours in we saw two hikers that were on their second day of a wrap-around loop and we stopped to talk with them for about five minutes.  After that we made a nice descent down to some water to re-fill our bottles. Trevor let me know that we were significantly behind where we need to be in order to break 6 hours 15 minutes....but we were just really enjoying the beautiful day and route.

We came around one corner and saw a huge elk w/ an equally huge rack. Here is the rest of the herd with Spirit Lake in the background.  Running through the blast zone from the eruption in the early 1980's was quite an experience too.

We ended up slowing down a bit as we got blasted by 30 mph winds on the back side of the mountain, but we really were just taking in the scenery and enjoying the day.  Trevor assured me that he was never too attached to beating the time so we just really had a perfect day of trail running together.  We ended up finishing in 6 hours 52 minutes and according to Trevor....anything under 7 hours on this route is pretty solid.  I have to say that this run is a classic. A fair amount of climbing...I would say at least 6,000 feet over the course of 50k and some other really rocky sections that slow you down a bit. On a clear day the views really don't get much better, and Trev and I were blessed w/ arguably the most ideal autumn day in the Pacific Northwest.   

There is something really special about a circumnavigation....Thanks Trevor...that is up there w/ one of the most memorable runs I've ever done! I'll surely be back to Helens and I couldn't have had a better tour guide.

Now I'm off to the Grand Canyon w/ some friends ... the adventures continue!

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