Observation Peak Loop (not the usual one): 12/24/13

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Born2BBrad
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Observation Peak Loop (not the usual one): 12/24/13

Post by Born2BBrad » December 24th, 2013, 7:02 pm

What: Observation Peak Loop
When: 12/24/13
Who: Me (Born2BBrad) and Buddy the Dog
Route: Started at the Trapper Creek Trailhead to Trapper Creek Trail to Observation Trail to Observation Peak back down to Big Hollow Trail to Dry Creek Trail and back to the trailhead
Mileage: 14.93 miles (GPS Fly)
Elevation Gain: 3362' (GPS Fly)

I'm too tired and lazy to write any narrative, so here's the pictures:

Opening picture:
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Tracks in NatGeo:
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Tracks in Google Earth (south side):
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Tracks in Google Earth (north side):
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Elevation Profile:
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Where the Dry Creek Trail splits from the Trapper Creek Trail:
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The beginning of the Trapper Creek Trail:
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Where the Observation Trail splits from the Trapper Creek Trail:
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The beginning of the Observation Trail:
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The Observation Trail crossing a creek:
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Picture of the creek. Isn't it pretty?
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Many old growth trees along the Observation Trail:
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Sheets of ice that had fallen from the rocks above:
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Where the Big Slide Trail meets the Observation Trail:
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Just how primitive is the Sunshine Trail?
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This was the most snow of all the trails, here around 3500':
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Turning off to head up to Observation Peak:
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Almost to the top of Observation Peak:
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Pano from the top:
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Video of Observation Peak 360:


Zoom on Mt. Adams:
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Zoom on Goat Rocks:
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Zoom on Mt. Rainier:
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Zoom on Mt. St. Helens:
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Me at the top:
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Buddy at the top:
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Turning off onto the Big Hollow Trail:
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Wire flagging on the Big Hollow Trail. Anyone know what these are for?
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For each "start" wire flagging there was an "end". 15-20 pairs in all:
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Running into Kam (PDX Flower Girl), her friend and their dogs:
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The crossing of Big Hollow Creek (I did not go that way):
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Buddy protesting crossing the log on a different trip 4 weeks ago:
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Turning off onto the Dry Creek Trail:
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Tricky crossing of Bourbon Creek on the Dry Creek Trail:
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Why couldn't this bridge over a dry ditch be over on Bourbon Creek?
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The Dry Creek Trail is very flat much of the way:
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These flags led to...
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... a side trail to what looked like a horse crossing of Dry Creek:
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The Dry Creek Trail is always in earshot of Dry Creek, many times within visual range, and a few times right next to it:
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Keep on hiking,
Brad
Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.
- Jean Luc Picard

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kepPNW
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Re: Observation Peak Loop (not the usual one): 12/24/13

Post by kepPNW » December 24th, 2013, 7:42 pm

Looks like a great trip! Bonus running into Kam, too. Crazy how that happens "way out there." I really need to get there, and it sure looks totally doable still. So what'd you do at Bourbon creek - just plunge in?
Karl
Back on the trail, again...

(Photos · PortlandHikers)

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-Q-
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Re: Observation Peak Loop (not the usual one): 12/24/13

Post by -Q- » December 24th, 2013, 8:41 pm

Great report Brad.
Love the Trapper Creek area.

The Sunshine Trail is a little tough to follow in some spots, but its super fun to hike. There is almost always a visible track to follow.
Its very similar to the Big Slide Trail.
Both have some pretty neat trail markers at various spots along the way. Sunshine trail markers are in the shape of a sun if I remember correctly.
I think both trails might be maintained by the Mazama's.

aircooled
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Re: Observation Peak Loop (not the usual one): 12/24/13

Post by aircooled » December 24th, 2013, 11:08 pm

Great TR Brad! I love the dog shot you lead off with!

I've done the Big Slide (better going up!) and the primitive trail loop just below Observation Peak. I believe it was 198 to 202 to 132B. Somewhere in there we lost any sign of trail due to heavy fir needle matting on the forest floor. We had to follow tags on trees which were spaced rather far apart, it was getting dark and I only had sunglasses on. And we had a heavily pregnant woman in the group who was not happy at the idea of having to bivvy overnight somewhere on the trail. One of my fonder Trapper Creek memories. With this sunny weekend coming, maybe need to get back up there for those spectacular views!

I recently did this as a shuttle. Up 132 from Govt. Mineral Springs and then down Big Hollow to where we left the cars.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/aircooled/ ... 989828915/

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drm
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Re: Observation Peak Loop (not the usual one): 12/24/13

Post by drm » December 25th, 2013, 8:41 am

That's a nice version of the loop.

Bridges over (now) dry creeks tend not to get washed away.

VanMarmot
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Re: Observation Peak Loop (not the usual one): 12/24/13

Post by VanMarmot » December 25th, 2013, 9:12 am

This is a great loop (good to see some snow on the summit). I usually do it counter-clockwise simply because the return on the Observation Trail is so gradual. The Sunshine Trail wasn't great when I did it three years ago – and ran into Kam on the summit! - and, judging from a recent TR thread (Sunshine 2010) it seems to have become almost impassable since then.

Adventurous alternatives include (apologies for borrowing your map) descending directly off the summit ("Thum's Cutoff") and reaching the summit ridge directly from Big Hollow Basin (steep but useful for avoiding deep snow in the basin).

Image

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Born2BBrad
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Re: Observation Peak Loop (not the usual one): 12/24/13

Post by Born2BBrad » December 26th, 2013, 8:41 am

kepPNW wrote:So what'd you do at Bourbon creek - just plunge in?
Fortunately, just upstream Bourbon Creek was not as wide. There I rock hopped over. A couple of the rocks were just below the water surface but my boots kept the water out. If the water level was any higher, I would have had to find a different crossing spot or deal with wet feet for a few miles. I imagine during the spring melt or after days of heavy rain, crossing the creek could prove to be difficult.
-Q- wrote:The Sunshine Trail is a little tough to follow in some spots, but its super fun to hike. There is almost always a visible track to follow.
Good to know in case I ever decide to do something different. I won’t bring a pregnant woman along, though :)
drm wrote:Bridges over (now) dry creeks tend not to get washed away.
Yeah, you’re right. I sometimes wonder about bridges that seem unnecessary. I’m sure they are helpful at some point.
VanMarmot wrote:Adventurous alternatives include (apologies for borrowing your map) descending directly off the summit ("Thum's Cutoff") and reaching the summit ridge directly from Big Hollow Basin (steep but useful for avoiding deep snow in the basin).
Interesting. I can see how that side gets more snow and avoiding it would be desirable. From the top of Observation Peak, I could see the slopes were steep, but not deadly steep in all directions.
Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.
- Jean Luc Picard

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cincodemayo
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Re: Observation Peak Loop (not the usual one): 12/24/13

Post by cincodemayo » December 26th, 2013, 9:19 am

It seems like you had a great hike!

I love pictures of Buddy :)


Chizuru

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miah66
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Re: Observation Peak Loop (not the usual one): 12/24/13

Post by miah66 » December 26th, 2013, 9:33 am

Man, I missed a good one! Last time (the only time) I went up there I couldn't 10 feet in front of my face.

I've heard horror stories about Sunshine Trail as well.

Hope to join you again on another in the future.
"The top...is not the top" - Mile...Mile & a Half

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-Q-
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Re: Observation Peak Loop (not the usual one): 12/24/13

Post by -Q- » December 26th, 2013, 10:14 am

Just checked my adventures log, and it looks like I last hiked the Sunshine Trail on 5/26/2012.

Based on the link VanMarmot has provided, it sounds like the trail might currently be in poor repair.

From what I remember, the tread was pretty good to follow back in 2012, but it was somewhat faint in certain places and difficult to find. Certainly had to sniff out the trail a bit.
With some blowdown, I could see how the track could disappear entirely.

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