Forum Index > Trip Reports > Big Snow Big Loop! (Hardscrabble > Myrtle, Aug 5)
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hikergirl1234
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hikergirl1234
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PostSat Aug 06, 2022 3:28 pm 
Big Snow has been on my tick list for a while. I was especially intrigued by the Northeast Shoulder route and the promise of travel on granite up high. With mild and sunny weather on the forecast for Friday, and a vehicle borrowed from a family member to handle the potholed road to Dingford Ck. trailhead (thanks Dad!) I was ready to go. Unable to decide on Myrtle v.s. Hardscrabble approach… why not both? Parked the car at Dingford trailhead around 7am and enjoyed the mellow road walk to the Hardscrabble TH (a few hundred yards after a BIG fallen tree on the right). All the reports said you’ll know it when you see the tree, and that is certainly true.
Peaceful morning along the crystal clear Middle Fork. Made good pace on the slightly overgrown trail to Lower Hardscrabble Lake, then rounded the talus on the left side of the lake to the far end and picked my way across the inlet streams to a nice path on the right leading to Upper Hardscrabble.
L: Yummy berries, R: A talus field crossing on the way to Lower Hardscrabble
Lower Hardscrabble Lake
L: Beautiful waterfall spotted from the trail to the Upper Lake, R: Upper Hardscrabble. After rounding the LH side of the lake for a few minutes and some short travel through some easy lightly brushy slopes, I obtained the gully noted in Beckey's route description. There was a small snowfield near the top, but the gully has melted out enough to be easily climbed on only rock.
L: On the way up, looking down on Upper HS Lk., R: Col above the gulley, RHS is the ascent route. After ascending to the col, I was greeted by snowfields covering gentle slopes. I ascended these and followed the slope around to the N flank.
Traveling up a gentle slope, looking back at the col from which I arrived.
More snowy snaps from the NE shoulder. Big Snow living up to its name! After leaving the snow fields for an easy climb on rock to gain the summit, I arrived to beautiful 360 vistas. Nothing above Class 2 on the whole ascent. Very mellow, and what an epic alpine feel! Enjoyed tasty banh mi on the summit and took a nice long break (~50 minutes) enjoying the weather and views.
Summit views and snax. Descending was slightly less fun, with lingering, slightly steeper snow fields on the the North Slope that I would have wanted crampons/axe to travel on. However things had melted out enough to safely make my way down on rock. It was a bit tedious picking a line down the slopes, as there was lots of wet rock due to trickling snowmelt, but nothing scary or chossy. I found my way down a gully to the far left of Snowflake Lake, and then followed a faint trail cross country to the lower edge of Big Snow Lake, where I enjoyed a quick, revitalizing dip in the cold waters.
L: Easier terrain below the upper slopes, R: Looking down towards Big Snow Lake.
Big Snow Lake My descent from Big Snow > Myrtle was marred by a route finding error which found me in a gully too far right (climbers left) that cliffed out, and cost me 1:45 hours having to retrace my steps. I surveyed things and noted a better looking gully, which also hosted the outlet of Big Snow Lake. A bit of steep forest travel / veggie belays got me into the gully, but once obtained, the descent was mellow. After descending a bit, I veered right cross country into another gully, and then finally ended with a short bushwhack to pick up the Dingford Creek trail around a marshy area SE of Myrtle Lake. I started jogging once I hit that trail, chasing daylight as I knew I would likely need to pull out my a headlamp for the last couple miles… the last 2.5 miles were a slow hike in the dark to a joyful arrival at Dingford around 10:15pm, and an even more joyful arrival to the truck stops off exit 34, where a bright red OPEN sign beckoned me and a hard earned chocolate milk was acquired. Gear carried/used: poles were helpful for climbing the snow slopes on the NE shoulder. I did not bring microspikes nor did I wish I had them. GPS was helpful at times for route finding. Bivy gear was carried just in case smile.gif

Char May, BarbE, Theboywhocriedroute, Slim, wallorcrawl, Gimpilator, TeeJay, Nancyann, chiwakum, SeanSullivan86, Waterman, GaliWalker, ALW Hiker, abkoch3, Bootpathguy, Tom, hikerbiker, RichP  mosey
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jboealps
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jboealps
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PostSun Aug 07, 2022 8:52 am 
Great Trip! Thank You for the report.

hikergirl1234
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awilsondc
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awilsondc
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PostSun Aug 07, 2022 1:27 pm 
Awesome trip! That area definitely has its own charm to it. I love this shot, by the way. Fond memories waking up there years ago...
hikergirl1234 wrote:

hikergirl1234
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Hutch
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Hutch
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PostMon Aug 08, 2022 9:42 am 
Well done! Been on my bucket list for a while. Do you know the mileage on this by chance?

hikergirl1234
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hikergirl1234
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hikergirl1234
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PostMon Aug 08, 2022 3:39 pm 
Thank you! Definitely recommend the trip @Hutch, hope you can venture out soon smile.gif According to my GPS, ~22 miles and 5.5k ft vertical gain over the whole loop.

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