FKT: Max Ferguson - Loowit Trail (WA) - 2012-09-16

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Finish date
Total time
5h 59m 58s

On September 16th I ran the Loowit Trail circumnavigating Mt St. Helens. I left at 9:22am from the climber's bivouac parking lot taking the Ptarmigan trail to Loowit Trail 216 and running counter-clockwise. Upon reaching the NE section of the trail prior to the blast zone I continued on 216 through Windy Pass, this is the shortest, most obvious route, and keeps you on the same trail number, however when running it the trail is fairly ambiguous so I prefer to clarify. There are numerous washouts along several creek crossings, so the trail is a little different shape in places than the Green Trails map 364S shows. These additions only add to the total running distance, technicality, and elevation gain in the entire loop.

I ran the entire loop completely unassisted and timed my running from parking lot to parking lot in 5:59:58. Obviously running up and down the Ptarmigan trail factors into this total. I tried to the best of my ability to stay faithful to the trail while running across the multiple scrambles that appear on the route, my .gpx data shows no major deviations from the Green Trails labeled trail except in the case of one very severe wash out at mile

Gear used was one pair of compression socks, one pair of road racing flats, 7 gels, a brim hat, one 16oz bottle, and a dapper synthetic collared shirt. I originally believed I would run under 5 hours using multiple streams from glaciers as my primary water source. Water was plentiful enough along the East side, however a complete lack of water after Toutle River meant that I was stumbling dehydrated for a full 2 hours until I got back to my car. It would not surprise me to hear of anyone else running this faster seeing as a "race" was run the day before around the loop and the winner finished in 6:03 with the use of aid stations.

I tried snapping splits along the way, however my lack of trail knowledge had me worried I was off course several times so the splits listed are taken from an estimation on my garmin data

0:00:00 Climbers Bivouac TH
0:17:16 Loowit Trail / Ptarmigan Trail intersection
0:50:58 Loowit Trail / June Lake Trail intersection
1:41:39 Ape Canyon intersection
2:07:28 Windy Pass
3:40:xx Toutle River
5:05:xx Butte Camp Trail intersection (things get a bit dicey here on account of washouts and boulder navigation this split is to the best of my ability to discern.
5:44:11 Loowit Trail / Ptarmigan Trail intersection
5:59:58 Climbers Bivouac TH (yes I sprinted like a madman to go under 6 hours)

I expect to return sometime next summer under better conditions for a much faster time, preferably in the very low 5 hour or high 4 hour range. I feel even with the severe damage done to the trail in sections it is still possible to go at least an hour faster than I have done it.