Observation Pk via Dry Ck & Big Hollow 12-June-2011

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VanMarmot
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Observation Pk via Dry Ck & Big Hollow 12-June-2011

Post by VanMarmot » June 13th, 2011, 5:15 am

After spending Saturday doing Rose Festival activities (viewing the parade, visiting the ships, etc.), I had Sunday free to do a loop hike of Observation Peak by going up via the Dry Creek (194) and Big Hollow (158) trails and down via the Observation Peak trail (132). It was sunny when I started up the nearly level Dry Creek trail,

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which afforded a nice view of Dry Creek, which was not running as high as I’d expected, given all the snow melt.

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After about 4 mi, I reached the Big Hollow trail and headed up it. It was in pretty good condition except for 4 really big blowdowns that blocked it in awkward ways.

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Two people passed me heading down who said they had turned around because of snow on the trail. I didn’t know quite what that meant until about the 3200’ level when the trail disappeared completely beneath 3-4’ of well consolidated snow. From then on the hike was on snow, guided by remembered landmarks and the GPS – there was no sign of the trail until I reached Howe Ridge.

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At the creek crossing at 3400’, the snow was deep enough to require actually climbing down to cross the creek.

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This snow was not very steep and was easy to walk on, so I reached the upper end of the Big Hollow trail in good time.

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However, from there to the Observation Peak trail involved mostly side-hilling on fairly steep snow often poised over deep tree wells.

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Fortunately, the snow thinned and leveled some as I headed up the peak, which was graced with its own small snow cap.

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Unfortunately, by the time I reached the summit, the sun was gone and the clouds were rolling in. St Helens was somewhat visible,

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Adams was hiding,

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and Hood seemed far away.

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The hike down and back involved more side-hilling and route finding until I finally got out of the snow where the trail crosses Howe Ridge.

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The snow and side-hilling made the hike longer (in time) than I’d planned and, because of the clouds, the views were less than the great ones I’ve come to expect from Observation. Still it was a good workout (15.2 mi, 3200’) and I made it back to the TH just as the rain started. This is definitely a hike to consider doing again AFTER the snow melts.
Last edited by VanMarmot on June 16th, 2011, 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Thum

Re: Observation Pk via Dry Ck & Big Hollow 12-June-2011

Post by Thum » June 13th, 2011, 1:34 pm

that's awesome you made it through from big hollow, that's my favorite way to get to observation and sister rocks.

I tried a couple of weeks ago to get to ob. peak from big hollow but we got turned around because of snow and a late start. good route finding skills on your part.

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drm
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Re: Observation Pk via Dry Ck & Big Hollow 12-June-2011

Post by drm » June 13th, 2011, 1:57 pm

Did you have crampons or something like for the steep sidehilling? The snow there is often pretty hard to kick steps in and that often turns me back, like it did on a much shorter section going up to Soda Peaks Lake the same day.

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VanMarmot
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Re: Observation Pk via Dry Ck & Big Hollow 12-June-2011

Post by VanMarmot » June 13th, 2011, 4:29 pm

drm wrote:Did you have crampons or something like for the steep sidehilling? The snow there is often pretty hard to kick steps in and that often turns me back, like it did on a much shorter section going up to Soda Peaks Lake the same day.
Not this time. The snow was soft enough down to about 6-8" to give me decent foot placements on side-hill. But I had to be careful because the snow wasn't that solid and I slide into a tree well a couple of times. Unless we get a real hot spell, it'll be weeks before that snow is gone.

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Re: Observation Pk via Dry Ck & Big Hollow 12-June-2011

Post by pdxflowergirl » June 13th, 2011, 7:14 pm

Thanks for the report! I thought about Observation Peak on Sunday, but opted for an easier trail (Grassy Knoll) since we had hiked up to Burnt Lake the weekend prior and Brian requested a snow-free destination. For five minutes, we considered braving the snow-covered trail to Little Huckleberry Mtn but decided to turn back. As the rain started falling on our drive home, we felt validated.

For comparison, here's a photo of the same trail sign from Memorial Day weekend last year:
OP_132A_sign.jpg
And for kicks...our group photo from the summit that same weekend. Almost two weeks earlier in the year, and several feet less snow...what a coincidence it would've been had we both ended up at the summit at the same time again!
OP_summit.jpg
Kam

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VanMarmot
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Re: Observation Pk via Dry Ck & Big Hollow 12-June-2011

Post by VanMarmot » June 14th, 2011, 9:57 am

pdxflowergirl wrote:Thanks for the report! I thought about Observation Peak on Sunday, but opted for an easier trail (Grassy Knoll) since we had hiked up to Burnt Lake the weekend prior and Brian requested a snow-free destination. For five minutes, we considered braving the snow-covered trail to Little Huckleberry Mtn but decided to turn back. As the rain started falling on our drive home, we felt validated.

And for kicks...our group photo from the summit that same weekend. Almost two weeks earlier in the year, and several feet less snow...what a coincidence it would've been had we both ended up at the summit at the same time again!
Validated & vindicated! If Brian didn't want to hike in ssnow again so soon, you definitely made the better choice. Last year there was snow on the trail on the E side of Observation but it had been beaten down witha track - this year it's solid snow at an angle and I didn't see any other tracks.

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Re: Observation Pk via Dry Ck & Big Hollow 12-June-2011

Post by justpeachy » June 14th, 2011, 1:46 pm

This is definitely a hike to consider doing again AFTER the snow melts.
Yes this is definitely a fantastic hike on a clear day after the snow has melted. I did it on the 4th of July two years ago and it was beautiful. I doubt it will be snow-free by July 4th this year, though. Oh, and bring bug spray. I got eaten alive.
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CuriousGorgeGuide
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Re: Observation Pk via Dry Ck & Big Hollow 12-June-2011

Post by CuriousGorgeGuide » June 15th, 2011, 10:39 am

Thanks for the snow-level report, and thanks for the perspective on last year PDXflowergirl. Appreciated!!....scott

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Re: Observation Pk via Dry Ck & Big Hollow 12-June-2011

Post by drm » June 15th, 2011, 5:53 pm

justpeachy wrote:I got eaten alive.
I think that many of us wonder how the weather will affect the bug season. Somebody told me that last year, which also had a wet and cool spring, was NOT as bad in Indian Heaven. We can only hope. The alpine season is short enough as it is, and the higher trails on Mts Adams and Hood won't melt out till August this year.

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Re: Observation Pk via Dry Ck & Big Hollow 12-June-2011

Post by arundodonax » June 19th, 2011, 10:51 pm

Thanks for the details! I started the same loop, but came down Trapper instead. (ugh. I avoided the side hilling, but had to deal with that tedious little trail :) ) I think you're right - I'll bet it's late July before most of that snow is gone. Unfortunately no views today, but a nice hike.

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