Little ZigZag Canyon (Hidden Lake shortcut)

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Chip Down
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Little ZigZag Canyon (Hidden Lake shortcut)

Post by Chip Down » November 9th, 2019, 8:25 pm

MOTIVATION, AND THE PLAN
Many years ago, I hiked up the Hidden Lake trail in winter or late autumn. Don't recall how high I got. Maybe all the way to Timberline Trail. I wanted to go do it again, due to a strange combination of nostalgia and curiosity. But I noticed AllTrails rates the hike difficult. I don't like difficult. I'm getting too old and fat for that nonsense. But I cooked up a scheme: Keep driving past the Hidden Lake trailhead to the end of Kiwanis Road, which would put me higher and closer to Timberline Trail. From there I could hike the deadend Little Zigzag Falls trail, and then continue offtrail up to Timberline Trail. A short walk on TLT would take me to the top of Hidden Lake Trail. Easy peasy.

THE ASCENT: FOREST
From the end of Little Zigzag Falls trail, there was a faint social trail. No surprise. It gradually faded, as I knew it would. This part of Hood can be thick with rhododendrons, but mostly it was open forest. I did have to zig and zag a bit in search of the clearest route, and to avoid steep banks of Little Zigzag Creek, but it was a generally pleasant bushwhack. Crossed the creek a few times along the way, when it looked like the other side was easier.

THE ASCENT: CANYON
The forest ended abruptly, and I was on rock, with a bit of a mountain view. I was glad to be out of the brush, and the hat/gloves/sleeves came off. The mossy creek was fun to follow, lots of boulder hopping. I came to the head of Little Zigzag Creek, at a spring just slightly off the center/bottom of the canyon. I stopped for a longish break, knowing it would be a dry less-interesting dustbowl above. But I also looked forward to easier travel straight up the dry canyon bottom. There were a couple steps (dry falls), but it was easier than expected. Even if I had encountered insurmountable challenges, it would have been fairly easy to scale the canyon walls, so I was never in danger of having to retreat downstream. Just a little above the spring, the canyon shrank, becoming narrow and shallow. Uh oh. Drat, did I veer into Sand Canyon down there? I knew that was a risk. Thinking back, there was a fork I took to the right, even though I knew I generally needed to stay left. But the left fork of the creek was maybe a quarter of the right fork, so I went with the bigger creek. Maybe that's where I veered into Sand Canyon. Well, too late to go back. I continued up until I saw signs I was getting close to Timberline Trail: increasing snow, and anthropogenic detritus, including salt bags courtesy of Timberline Lodge. Jackasses.

TIMBERLINE TRAIL
I almost didn't notice the trail. I saw boot prints, but that wasn't surprising so close to the lodge. A moment later I realized it was a real trail. Had to be TLL. Turned out my shortcut worked as planned: there's no way my ascent could be considered "difficult", so surely it was easier than hiking up the Hidden Lake trail. A problem though: Now I had to hike TLL farther than planned, all the way to Little Zigzag Canyon, and to Hidden Lake junction. But as I surveyed the trail into and out of my canyon, I started to think it looked a lot like Little Zigzag. Is it possible I actually had been on route the whole time, in LZZ as intended? Yep, sure enough. Funny, part of me was disappointed, as I was already planning a return trip to LZZ. I followed TLT to the Hidden Lake junction, and discovered the top of Hidden Lake Trail was under snow. For just a moment, I was concerned, but I soon realized there was no risk. If I lost the trail, I could just veer east towards Little Zigzag Canyon until I was below snow line, and then cut back over to the Hidden Lake Trail.

THE UPPER INTER ZIGZAG ZONE
It was early, not even noon yet (yay shortcut!). I considered continuing to Paradise Park and down the PP trail. But no, just did that a few weeks ago. Decided to poke around in the wedge between ZZ Canyon and Little ZZ, up above treeline. It's a neat place, great for a random stroll with no particular goal. I reached a scenic high point with a view to Mississippi Head, and sat down for a relaxing break. I had just cracked a beer when it started raining, and the wind picked up. I quickly repacked, putting critical items in ziplock bags, then downed my beer and headed downslope. It soon stopped raining, so I explored a bit more, but I couldn't dawdle. This was surprising and disappointing. Forecast said 10% chance after 4pm, so rain at noon caught me off guard. I felt validated though: the weather was the reason I picked a can't-get-lost canyon hike, so in a sense it would have been annoying if it turned out to be a bluebird day.

DESCENDING HIDDEN LAKE TRAIL
As expected, the snow wasn't a problem on Hidden Lake Trail. When it faded just a little below Timberline Trail, I was disappointed more than relieved. The hike down was uneventful, except for an unmarked junction. I was near Hidden Lake, and the social trails caused a little confusion. The one that didn't dead end was, of course, the last one I tried. It rained just a little bit on my trail hike, but I didn't really care. It was remarkably warm (Sepvember), and I was too low for wind to be a concern. I was sure I'd get to the Hidden Lake trailhead mostly dry, and indeed the precip never amounted to much.

OTHER PARTIES
I think I saw 4 people and a dog on Timberline Trail. That's all.
Attachments
hoodgood_excerpt.jpeg
From TomDickHarryMtn, Little Zigzag Canyon is the most obvious feature below treeline. Sand Canyon is the smaller faint gully to the right of LZZ.
1.jpg
Out of the forest, the real fun begins.
2.jpg
Little Zigzag Creek
3.jpg
Source of LZZ creek.
4.jpg
Looking down the canyon. That must be TDH over there.
5.jpg
This is where I concluded I must have been in Sand Canyon.
6.jpg
With all the garbage in LZZ canyon, this amused me.
7.jpg
The maples are lovely this time of year in the UIZZZ.
8.jpg
In spite of the clouds, Jeff and Sisters were mostly visible.
9.jpg
Alongside the Hidden Lake Trail.

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teachpdx
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Re: Little ZigZag Canyon (Hidden Lake shortcut)

Post by teachpdx » November 9th, 2019, 8:34 pm

This seems like a pretty cool adventure, Chip!
I was up there in the area today. I stayed surprisingly dry higher up on the mountain (above Mississippi Head) but watched a couple squalls down lower. I was hoping that one of them didn’t close me in as I was trying to pass above Zigzag Canyon... it was close.

I didn’t see a soul today on the TT all the way to Paradise Park, and then obviously nobody else until I was back at Silcox Hut. So yeah, pretty much nobody.
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Chip Down
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Re: Little ZigZag Canyon (Hidden Lake shortcut)

Post by Chip Down » November 9th, 2019, 8:50 pm

teachpdx wrote:
November 9th, 2019, 8:34 pm
This seems like a pretty cool adventure, Chip!
I was up there in the area today. I stayed surprisingly dry higher up on the mountain (above Mississippi Head) but watched a couple squalls down lower. I was hoping that one of them didn’t close me in as I was trying to pass above Zigzag Canyon... it was close.

I didn’t see a soul today on the TT all the way to Paradise Park, and then obviously nobody else until I was back at Silcox Hut. So yeah, pretty much nobody.
That loop above Miss Head is awful without snow, isn't it? Hope you were able to link patches for a mostly fun descent to TLL.

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mjirving
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Re: Little ZigZag Canyon (Hidden Lake shortcut)

Post by mjirving » November 10th, 2019, 6:20 am

“Old and fat” haha. I guess the old comment could apply, yet we’re young at heart.

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retired jerry
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Re: Little ZigZag Canyon (Hidden Lake shortcut)

Post by retired jerry » November 10th, 2019, 6:49 am

" But I noticed AllTrails rates the hike difficult. I don't like difficult. I'm getting too old and fat for that nonsense. "

ha, ha, ha,...

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ghsmith76
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Re: Little ZigZag Canyon (Hidden Lake shortcut)

Post by ghsmith76 » November 10th, 2019, 8:52 am

Thanks for the post and identifying the canyon from TDH view.
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teachpdx
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Re: Little ZigZag Canyon (Hidden Lake shortcut)

Post by teachpdx » November 11th, 2019, 7:51 am

Chip Down wrote:
November 9th, 2019, 8:50 pm
That loop above Miss Head is awful without snow, isn't it? Hope you were able to link patches for a mostly fun descent to TLL.
It actually wasn't too bad... I was able to hit enough snow to keep the crampons on, at least, from the little canyon prior to Mississippi Head all the way back to Silcox. I just had a few locations where I had to find soft ground to connect them.
The little bit of drizzle made the snow very slick, so I was very happy that I had them!
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