Silver Star South Ridge Lollipop - Jan 23 2021

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TwoPaw
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Silver Star South Ridge Lollipop - Jan 23 2021

Post by TwoPaw » January 25th, 2021, 9:13 am

Looking to take in what may be the last sun for a bit I headed up the Silver Star South Ridge Hike.
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Given the total lack of signage for the TH or along the trail, the Field Guide description is a great help. A couple of things come to mind to note:

:arrow: Although the route is FG rated Moderate my sense is most hiking books would tag this Difficult not only for the actual gain, but also because this path is an old 4WD road that’s a bit rocky with grades that are sometimes gentle, but often steep. The offtrail downhill travel through scree - while posing no real exposure - is hardly a walk in the park either. (Cook Hill with similar gain/distance would be borderline moderate/difficult in my book, and this route is much more challenging).
:arrow: For the uninitiated, the area adjacent to trailhead parking is popular for target shooting with one site just down the road, and many others nearby. You’ll hear at least soft reports most of your hike. It’s part of the area’s mixed uses and may not be your cup of tea.
:arrow: A pair of gloves is handy any time of year for passing through the scree covered slopes - some of those rocks are sharp.

I had done this hike in some form years ago with a group but didn’t really recall the details. My last couple of visits to Yacolt were winter trips up Grouse Vista with snowshoeing at the top. Not much snow this time but I wanted to check out the landscape for a later snowshoe. Since the South Ridge parking area is 800 ft lower than Grouse Vista TH I thought it would be a good option if the road was blocked by snow higher up.

The lower part of the South Ridge trail is a bit of a drag being mainly a low elevation road but you’ll have it all to yourself and once you do break out into the open the views are sweeping.

Hitting the junction and heading onto popular Grouse Vista trail the tread became packed snow. I was now hearing other hikers above and below me and encountered three other parties in the first minute. I had originally planned to go up and over to Bluff Mt. trail and head east a short ways for a lunch stop before heading back to the Indian Pits.

To avoid the crowds I skipped that and veered onto 180E right away (the only junction signed). At the grassy area below Silver Star 2 a couple was heading up and I asked how far they went. They said only to the next grassy area but they lost the trail after that.

In the trees there was still a couple feet of snow with prints that I followed to the next grassy area, where hungry, I ate my tuna sandwich and gazed up at the half a dozen folks enjoying the view (and some fog) on Silver Star 2.

Continuing south on 180E I found where the couple lost the trail. Clear prints disappeared on the wind swept snow. I jogged my memory and after some back and forth found the route in the trees where old footprints were still present.

I made my way up to the summit of the Indian Pits. While I’m not a Silver Star aficionado this summit ridge is one of my favorite spots with its sweeping views, bear grass, and rugged presence.

Although the forecast promised clear skies, it was far more dramatic with some fog and clouds coming and going and ever changing lighting. I never saw all the peaks at once; they came and went by the moment.

No one was around. Meanwhile every time I looked back at Silver Star I saw half a dozen folks standing there and sometimes heard them too despite the distance.

I made the descent down the scree slope below the summit, and then through the bear grass which had taken over a couple of lower pits.

Completing the lollipop back onto the South Ridge trail and I looked back up and decided in the future I would rather hike up the scree slope and back down the road but I would not argue about it.

All in all a great hike.

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Chip Down
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Re: Silver Star South Ridge Lollipop - Jan 23 2021

Post by Chip Down » January 25th, 2021, 12:14 pm

The rugged old roads are indeed miserable to walk on. Imagine driving on those roads! Many years ago, before it was gated, I drove as far as I could and then started walking.

Great winter hike though. When under snow, as it normally would be by now, it doesn't matter how rocky the roadbed is, and the wide swath means you won't constantly get snow dumping on you every time you brush against something.

The indian-pit summit is cool, less crowded, you can really stretch out and relax for a while. The snow on the east side tends to develop an abrupt dropoff that makes you feel like you're standing on a huge snowy plateau. Neat illusion. Interesting how certain spots tend to develop the same sculpted snow features every winter.

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Born2BBrad
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Re: Silver Star South Ridge Lollipop - Jan 23 2021

Post by Born2BBrad » January 26th, 2021, 11:32 am

So was the cross near the top of Silver Star still there?
Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.
- Jean Luc Picard

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TwoPaw
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Re: Silver Star South Ridge Lollipop - Jan 23 2021

Post by TwoPaw » January 26th, 2021, 1:12 pm

Born2BBrad wrote:
January 26th, 2021, 11:32 am
So was the cross near the top of Silver Star still there?
I didn't see any on my route.

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Chip Down
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Re: Silver Star South Ridge Lollipop - Jan 23 2021

Post by Chip Down » January 27th, 2021, 9:06 am

I've wondered about the cross as well. That would look really cool with a heavy coating of rime ice, wouldn't it?

Hey TwoPaw, did you add to your report? It seems different now, but maybe I just wasn't attentive the first time.

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