Forum Index > Trip Reports > Big Snow Sept 23-24, 2011
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RichP
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RichP
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PostSun Sep 25, 2011 8:59 am 
I've been wanting to visit Big Snow for several years now but was sidetracked while chasing the top 100 highest peaks in the state. Now that that fever has abated, I can pursue some closer goals that had been neglected. Recent reports from chiwakum and alpinelakes also provided some extra motivation.
The forecast revealed what may be the last two warm days of the year, so I knew it was time to give it a try.
Bruce and I started off on our bikes at about 9:00 a.m. from the Dingford trailhead and rode the 7 miles up the Middle Fork Rd to the giant log and beginning of the route in about 1.5 hours. The road is quite rideable on a bicycle though there are a couple of areas where one must dismount where rocks have washed across it. The route starts at a wide point in the road about 100 feet from the log where there is a fire pit. This is about 1/2 mile from the end of the road.
The lower part of the route has been recently brushed out (thank you!) and climbs an old road until you reach a talus field about half-way to Lower Hardscrabble Lake. Here follow the cairns across the talus and look for flagging as the route becomes obscured at this point. We did lose the route after the talus, but picked it up again higher up.
Lower Hardscrabble is quite beautiful and the cliffs on the north side of the lake look like something out of Yosemite. We walked around the west side of the lake and looked for the inlet where another route takes one up to Upper Hardscrabble. The beginning of this trail is to the left of the inlet  which drains from Upper Hardscrabble and is somewhat hidden in brush but there is a cairn marking it.
It was quite hot and we took a break at Upper Hardscrabble before continuing up.

Getting ready to ride the 7 miles to the trailhead.
Getting ready to ride the 7 miles to the trailhead.
Just below outlet of Lower Hardscrabble.
Just below outlet of Lower Hardscrabble.
Lower hardscrabble Lake and impressive wall.
Lower hardscrabble Lake and impressive wall.
Lower Hardscrabble Lake.
Lower Hardscrabble Lake.
Looking up from Lower hardscrabble lake to Big Snow
Looking up from Lower hardscrabble lake to Big Snow
Upper HardScrabble Lake.
Upper HardScrabble Lake.
Views while ascending to Big Snow
Views while ascending to Big Snow

From the outlet of the lake we made our way towards the inlet, staying to the left, and reached a meadow above and more talus which took us up to Big Snow. We spied out a couple of gullies before reaching the correct talus field which is hidden until you are right under it. At the top of the talus field one is greeted with fine views of Gold Lake and the rock and snow that makes this area so special.

Snow and rock on big Snow
Snow and rock on big Snow

We made camp on a sandy bench at about 6000' and decided to wait until the next day to go for the summit as it was 6:00 p.m. and we would be coming down in the dark.
The following morning was splendid.

Looking towards summit from camp
Looking towards summit from camp
View from near camp at about 6000'
View from near camp at about 6000'
Big Snow summit from camp
Big Snow summit from camp
Summit in early morn
Summit in early morn
Morning views
Morning views
Early light
Early light
On the way to the summit
On the way to the summit
Still lots of snow on Big Snow
Still lots of snow on Big Snow
Rock and snow
Rock and snow
Granite slabs galore
Granite slabs galore
Summit of Big Snow
Summit of Big Snow
Rocks near summit
Rocks near summit

At the summit we found at least 4 nice bivy spots. Had we known this, we we would have taken our gear up for the night.

Bivy spot
Bivy spot
Bivy spot
Bivy spot

There is a crucifix on top just like on some peaks in South America.

Summit
Summit
Summit cross
Summit cross

The views were grand and we stayed for a few hours to explore the meadows below the south side of the mountain.

Summit ridge of Big Snow
Summit ridge of Big Snow
Looking down to Hester Lake and Mt Price
Looking down to Hester Lake and Mt Price
The register has been here for over 15 years and has one more blank page.
The register has been here for over 15 years and has one more blank page.
Dropping down south side
Dropping down south side
Exploring south side of Big Snow
Exploring south side of Big Snow
Hester Lake below
Hester Lake below
meadow below summit
meadow below summit
Below summit on south side
Below summit on south side
Balancing rock
Balancing rock
Alpine conifers
Alpine conifers
High meadow on south side of Big Snow
High meadow on south side of Big Snow
Cliffs near summit
Cliffs near summit
Cliffs on south side of Big Snow
Cliffs on south side of Big Snow
Looking back up to summit from south side
Looking back up to summit from south side
Summit Ridge
Summit Ridge
Ridge of Big Snow
Ridge of Big Snow
Snoqualmie Peaks
Snoqualmie Peaks

There are three markers on the summit.

One of three
One of three
One of three
One of three

After spending some more good summit time, we headed back down to camp since we wanted to make it out on Saturday before the predicted change in weather arrived. We could see lenticular clouds building over Mt Rainier.

Just like on many summits in South America
Just like on many summits in South America
Summit shot on Big Snow
Summit shot on Big Snow
Lots o' lakes
Lots o' lakes
Big Snow and Myrtle Lakes
Big Snow and Myrtle Lakes
Gold Lake
Gold Lake

Walking on the granite slabs was a delight.

Gold Lake
Gold Lake
Kicking the football
Kicking the football

We packed up and made our way back toward the notch above Upper Hardscrabble where we saw the first person of the trip sitting there with a wooden-handled ice axe. After a chat, we made it down to the lake and continued to the lower lake where the heat forced us to take a refreshing swim.

Lower Hardscrabble from high on Big Snow
Lower Hardscrabble from high on Big Snow
Summit
Summit
Downward to Upper Hardscrabble
Downward to Upper Hardscrabble
Upper Hardscrabble Lake
Upper Hardscrabble Lake
Falls below Upper Hardscrabble outlet
Falls below Upper Hardscrabble outlet
Looking back up to big Snow
Looking back up to big Snow
About where I jumped in
About where I jumped in
Lower hardscrabble Lake
Lower hardscrabble Lake

We made it back down to the bikes at 5:00 p.m. and arrived in about 1/2 hour to the car after cruising down the kidney- jarring road.
As we arrived to North Bend the first raindrops began to fall and we were glad that we had decided to come down instead of spending the extra night up there.
I can see a repeat trip in the future to visit the many lakes.

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Bernardo
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Bernardo
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PostSun Sep 25, 2011 9:48 pm 
Nice trip.  Yes, all the Big Snow reports have been inspirational.  Did you see signs that the road is getting used by people with gate keys?

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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostSun Sep 25, 2011 9:57 pm 
The lakes and slabs look great.

--------------
“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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RichP
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RichP
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PostSun Sep 25, 2011 9:58 pm 
Bernardo wrote:
Did you see signs that the road is getting used by people with gate keys?

There were two trucks parked a couple of miles past Goldmeyer below what must be an active mining claim as we could hear a drill or some other machine as we passed. Other than that, it looks like it's getting little use except for foot traffic and bicycles.

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Hikingqueen
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Hikingqueen
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PostMon Sep 26, 2011 1:26 pm 
Early morning light LOVE it! You got some wonderful shots!  biggrin.gif

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like2thruhike
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like2thruhike
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PostMon Sep 26, 2011 2:32 pm 
Finally I can check this one off the list....It really wasn't what i had expected.It had a big mountain feel even though it was 6680.....

Many hikers are bikers and vice versa....
Many hikers are bikers and vice versa....
Many describe a big log beside the road when giving directions to the start of the unmaintained fishermans trail to Big Snow.I think old growth log about sums up the exact size of the log.....
Many describe a big log beside the road when giving directions to the start of the unmaintained fishermans trail to Big Snow.I think old growth log about sums up the exact size of the log.....
Big Snow Mtn "trail" start carin
Big Snow Mtn "trail" start carin
BIG SNOW fishermans trail
BIG SNOW fishermans trail

Something for everyone here.A scenic drive in.A scenic bike ride from the car to the beginning of the fishermans trail.Bushwacking along a faint trail.

Fishermans Trail Sign on Big Snow
Fishermans Trail Sign on Big Snow
Where's Waldo?
Where's Waldo?
There's Waldo
There's Waldo

Some route finding between flagging on boulder field.Prestine lakes with very few camp spots to spoil the wilderness feel.More boulder hopping.

Logging Relics
Logging Relics
Nature reclaims
Nature reclaims
I looks like bear poop,sort of.
I looks like bear poop,sort of.
Just beyond upper HS,there's this soaking hole with a tent site close by.We should have soaked here because it'd be easier to get out and warmer because it gets more sun.
Just beyond upper HS,there's this soaking hole with a tent site close by.We should have soaked here because it'd be easier to get out and warmer because it gets more sun.
Snow at 4,500 in September?!
Snow at 4,500 in September?!
Where's Waldo?
Where's Waldo?

Some snow travel.All firm,no postholing.As the temps drop it may be a good idea to bring traction devices and maybe an ice axe.

Thatta'way
Thatta'way
frosty white river
frosty white river
RP on BS
RP on BS

Some mosquitoes till 10 pm.Only annoying if you sleep in a bivy sack w/o ear plugs.Eventually I had to use mine.I also had to switch from the mosquitoe head net to zipping the REI Minimalist bivy all the way up.Luckily it has a generous amount of mesh so morning condensation was slightly noticable.

Possible bivy spot on Big Snow
Possible bivy spot on Big Snow
Hiker on Big Snow
Hiker on Big Snow
Just below BigSnow summit
Just below BigSnow summit
Dude,that's steep....
Dude,that's steep....
Natures art
Natures art
Heading to the saddle
Heading to the saddle

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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostTue Sep 27, 2011 1:36 am 
Congrats on getting this one done! Takes a little more effort and planning than it used to, but in return those who go will probably get it all to themselves.

--------------
Mid Fork Rocks • flickr
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Don
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Don
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PostTue Sep 27, 2011 7:37 am 
Fun mountain in a fun area!  You got some nice light up high, too!  Big Snow has always been one of my favorites, and your pictures remind me why.  Congratulations on an excellent trip.  up.gif

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RichP
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RichP
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PostTue Sep 27, 2011 7:51 am 
Thanks puzzlr and Don. Bruce and I both have wanted to get into this area for quite a while and it all worked out great. It was quite a bit of work as an overnight trip, but well worth it.
If I ever go back, a summit bivy is definitely in order.

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alpinelakes
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alpinelakes
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PostTue Sep 27, 2011 11:25 am 
Nice pictures!

Was the register hidden below the cross? I forgot to look for it.  Looks like I missed a couple cool spots on the south side, too...

Some very cool slabbage up there, and most of the way down to Gold Lake.

There's something really attractive about old campsites that are mossed over. I found a fire pit with logs and kindling neatly arranged, but draped in a years-old carpet of moss. Like something from an old, illustrated volume of children's fairy tales... even the mossed-over garbage was interesting, in some strange, historical sort of way...

Those old logging cables are enormous! I followed one for quite a ways and never found the end. Then I found another one like half a mile away and was thinking they might be the same cable...nah...couldn't be...

Great report! You nailed down some more beta on the trail...I was surprised to find all the flagging and other recent work. I hope they aren't fixin to clearcut that hillside anytime soon...

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RichP
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RichP
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PostTue Sep 27, 2011 3:22 pm 
alpinelakes wrote:
Was the register hidden below the cross?

Yeah. It's in a water bottle and was a bit hidden below the cross under some rocks. It contains some nice labeled pano pics from the summit as well.
Thanks for your trip report as it inspired me to to finally get up there.

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