Observation Pk (via Dry Ck / Big Hollow) 19-May-2012

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VanMarmot
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Observation Pk (via Dry Ck / Big Hollow) 19-May-2012

Post by VanMarmot » May 19th, 2012, 6:16 pm

As this week progressed, the weather report moved clouds and rain(?) closer and closer to the weekend, until only Saturday had any chance of being largely cloud free. Not wanting to miss out on sunshine and views, I decided to hike Observation Pk in the Trapper Ck Wilderness - going up via the Dry Creek and Big Hollow Trails and returning via the Observation Trail (132) to make a loop. The Dry Ck Tr is a nearly level 4 mi stroll along the creek,

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with no snow and no blowdowns, except for this whopper which I had to crawl under (my folded hiking pole (arrow) is 2' tall).

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The Big Hollow trail was snow-free until just before the creek crossing at 3200', when it disappeared under 5' or so of snow. Last year, the snow was this deep here in June, so this year's melt seems to be going faster.

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Fortunately, the snow was perfect for walking on - good foot steps and no post-holing. The 132/158 Tr junction (3750') was snowed-in,

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as was the wilderness sign.

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From the 132/158 junction to the summit was all on snow, with a lot of side-hilling. Although the trail up to the summit from the NW was snow-covered, the actual summit was not.

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It was sunny and warm on top, with the usual great views of St. Helens,

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Adams,

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Hood (H), and several less obvious summits (G: Greenleaf, T: Table, B: Birkenfeld, 3: Three Corner Rock) on the hazy horizon.

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There were even a few flowers showing.

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Rather than take the usual way down - which would have meant lots more walking and side-hilling on snow - I decided to head directly SE off the summit and meet Tr 132 where it crosses the ridge at 3600'. In one of his posts, Thum had mentioned having taken this route and a "trail" appears here on the old 100K scale topos, so the odds were in my favor. The SE side of the peak was entirely snow-free but still looked steep from above,

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and proved to be steep - but entirely manageable - on the way down.

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Going this way saved me at least an hour by not having to routefind and contour on snow. Right now, this is the only snow-free way to climb Observation. From 3600', the 132 was its usual gentle (and snow-free) self all the way back. There were little patches of orchids in a few places along the trail,

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and a couple of dogwood trees with just-past-their-prime flowers.

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On the way down, I was passed by two trail runners and a couple with a friendly dog. Although there were several cars at the TH, these were the only people I saw all day. The Trapper Creek Wilderness is a little gem in the wilderness system and this loop lets you experience it all - creeks, forests, summits, views, and even a waterfall. Great hike! 13.9 mi, 3300' EG.

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Peder
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Re: Observation Pk (via Dry Ck / Big Hollow) 19-May-2012

Post by Peder » May 19th, 2012, 8:31 pm

VanMarmot wrote:The Trapper Creek Wilderness is a little gem in the wilderness system and this loop lets you experience it all - creeks, forests, summits, views, and even a waterfall. Great hike!
Thanks for the report Bruce. It is on my list, but I have yet to visit the Trapper Creek area. Trapper Creek is moving up the priority rankings...
Some people are really fit at eighty; thankfully I still have many years to get into shape…

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pdxflowergirl
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Re: Observation Pk (via Dry Ck / Big Hollow) 19-May-2012

Post by pdxflowergirl » May 20th, 2012, 11:41 am

Fantastic report! I was thinking of heading up to OP for Memorial Day since TC tends to be less crowded. Wonder if the snow will have softened up by then, making for lots of post-holing?
Kam

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Eric Peterson
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Re: Observation Pk (via Dry Ck / Big Hollow) 19-May-2012

Post by Eric Peterson » May 20th, 2012, 12:20 pm

PDX, we are looking at cooler temps too this whole week so not sure what that will do
to the local snow! :)

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pdxflowergirl
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Re: Observation Pk (via Dry Ck / Big Hollow) 19-May-2012

Post by pdxflowergirl » May 20th, 2012, 3:01 pm

And rain! Maybe it'll all melt :lol:
Kam

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VanMarmot
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Re: Observation Pk (via Dry Ck / Big Hollow) 19-May-2012

Post by VanMarmot » May 21st, 2012, 6:30 am

pdxflowergirl wrote:Fantastic report! I was thinking of heading up to OP for Memorial Day since TC tends to be less crowded. Wonder if the snow will have softened up by then, making for lots of post-holing?
Thanks! The snow was well consolidated the whole way - my boots never went in more than 2-3". Only time I ever post-holed was either near a tree or where the snow was just a thin layer of over brush or a creek. Doubt it'll all melt off this week as the snow level is supposed to drop to 4000' on Tue.

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jaimito
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Re: Observation Pk (via Dry Ck / Big Hollow) 19-May-2012

Post by jaimito » May 21st, 2012, 8:44 am

Nice Job! You probably saw my tracks I was there on Friday and met 2 others a head of me on the summit, Bob "the beast" and Anna. Great day! I came back down on the Sunshine trail, I'll have to try the dry creek route soon.

Cheers / Jamie

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Sean Thomas
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Re: Observation Pk (via Dry Ck / Big Hollow) 19-May-2012

Post by Sean Thomas » May 21st, 2012, 1:23 pm

Excellent job on getting to the Peak and for a great report. It is a lot of fun to go up or down the ridge and I appreciate you letting us know its snow free. A poster here named scrambler said he thought it might have been the old sunshine route to the summit of OP as he remembered some sort of signage along this section many years ago.


Its a little under blazed ;) :


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These signs frequent the ridge route as well(no hang gliders people):


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airoff
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Re: Observation Pk (via Dry Ck / Big Hollow) 19-May-2012

Post by airoff » May 21st, 2012, 2:20 pm

[quote="Sean Thomas]



These signs frequent the ridge route as well(no hang gliders people):


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Those "no hang gliders" signs up around Sister Rocks and Observation Peak crack me up. Not simply because of how dated they are, but because I can't even imagine someone hang gliding into Trapper Creek Wilderness.

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romann
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Re: Observation Pk (via Dry Ck / Big Hollow) 19-May-2012

Post by romann » May 23rd, 2012, 6:20 pm

Great report and pictures as always, VanMarmot. It's good to know there's already a snow-free way up Observation Peak - I planned to visit the area for the first time coming summer, but it may happen sooner if snowmelt trend continues...

Since you started hiking on the weekends, our weekend weather have improved noticeably (as someone foresaw) - it's been several weeks when no matter how rainy, it always clears on Sat/Sun - or both days :) .

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