Observation Pk/Dry Ck/Big Hollow Loop 03-May-2013

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VanMarmot
Posts: 1922
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Observation Pk/Dry Ck/Big Hollow Loop 03-May-2013

Post by VanMarmot » May 3rd, 2013, 6:08 pm

One of may favorite loop hikes - deep forests, vast views, good trails - particularly for this most bluebird of recent days. Left the Trapper Creek TH and almost immediately turned on to the Dry Creek (194) trail. This is a very gentle, well maintained trail, with occasional views of Dry Creek.

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After a little under 4 mi, I came to the Big Hollow (158) trail and took it toward Observation. This trail was in good shape except for a number of blow downs at about 3000' - nothing big, just nuisances. The trail was largely snow free until about 3200' - then everything was snow covered from then on. The snow was firm, very walkable, with no post holes.

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During past early season trips to Observation, I generally followed where the 158 trail was supposed to be, which took me to the ridge E of Observation and made me sidehill on snow to get over to the peak. This time, taking advantage of the snow covering all the underbrush, I went straight up to the ridge. Steep snow in places but it was ideal for kicking solid steps. Probably cut a mile off the climb and brought me to the snow covered summit just in time for an early lunch.

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After that it was all about the views. The entire Indian Heaven range was visible (R: Red Mtn, B: Berry, G: Gifford, E: East Crater, L: Lemei, S: Sawtooth). Still a lot of snow back in there.

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Hood,

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Adams,

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Rainier,

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St. Helens,

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with Rainier,

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and then Rainier with Adams.

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Last, but not least, the little lookout on top of Red Mtn at the S end of Indian Heaven.

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Then it was down the SE side of Observation - Thum's Cut-Off - to intersect the 132 trail where it crosses Howe Ridge. Mixed snow and fallen limbs on the 132 until about 3400', then just fallen limbs and small trees. Again, just a nuisance. About half way down I encountered a Skamania County Jail work crew clearing the trail (beats sitting in a cell) and, after that, the 132 was a freeway! At the waterfall, I put down my trekking pole to take a photo only to have it siezed by a butterfly.

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Further down, the 132 crosses some creeks, which were a welcome relief on what had become an actually hot (or "unseasonably warm") day.

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And then it was over. One of those days you dream about all winter. :D 13 mi RT, 3100' EG.

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