Brian Mahon, Eric Loney, Al Hansen, Jeff Muldoon, Dara Muldoon, Paul Norris, and I headed out to do some recon on the south and west sides of St. Helens on July 3.
I’ve been trying to deny it, but the upper half of the Ape Canyon Trail needs to be brushed out. Right now, we are still planning to move forward with our big work party on Sunday, July 26th. Meet at the trailhead at 8:00 a.m. Bring loppers, rake or nippers. This is a great opportunity to lend a hand and also to get out on the side of the volcano.
We expect the usual strong Growlers Gulch showing for this work party. We currently have 12 people signed up and need to get that number to 15+. Let me know if you can make it.
There will be no pressure to maintain a pace. Brian Mahon and Paul Norris are both bringing weedeaters. Everyone else can bring loppers. The crew will move slowly towards the top with plenty of stops along the way. The goals are to clean the trail and to make sure everyone reaches the Ape Canyon viewpoint for photo opps and bragging rights.
Dave Anderson’s group has done a great job on the two washouts heading out toward the Plains of Abraham. In fact, Al cleaned the second one – although Al is not normal.
After we got out onto the Plains and took a few photos, we headed down to Red Rock Pass off the 81 Road. There has been a huge amount of damage to the road going to Blue Lake and the 81 is very sketchy as well.
We rode from Red Rock to the junction with the Butte Camp Trail, and then headed over to the big washout just prior to reaching Blue Lake. It isn’t impassable, but you could get skinned up really good if you tried to get your bike across it.
The topography in those few miles is remarkable and includes a lava field, plenty of rocky terrain, and old growth.
The trail had some debris but was rideable, and the bear grass was phenomenal near Red Rock.
There has been talk of working to re-open this area. The section we hit is certainly do-able as an out-and-back right now. Any chance for loops to Blue Lake and then up the Sheep Canyon and down Butte Camp remain iffy. More recon is needed. I know there is a washout on the Loowit Trail between Sheep Canyon and Butte Camp that would leave you shaking your head.
The trails on the west side of St. Helens don’t get nearly as much publicity or TLC as those on the south and east sides. In a perfect world, the west side will eventually be improved so that we can all get over there.
I will keep you in the loop.
WARNING: The bugs were bad at Ape and Red Rock. I recommend heavy coating before you leave the trailhead. And don’t leave the bug dope in your car. Put it in your pack.