Tag Archives: Three Sisters Area

Sisters Mirror Lake

Thursday had been the wettest day of our vacation week but the clouds began clearing overnight and Friday promised to be mostly sunny. We wanted to get some views of the fresh snow on the Cascades so we headed up the Cascade Lakes Highway past Mt. Bachelor and Devils Lake to the Sisters Mirror Lake Trailhead. We stopped for quick pictures of the mountains along the way.
Three Sisters and Broken Top
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Broken Top
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Mt. Bachelor
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It was damp and a little chilly as we set off on the Mirror Lakes Trail and entered the Three Sisters Wilderness.
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At the .4 mile mark we came to a signed trail. Our plan was to do a clockwise loop hike and return to this junction form the north.
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Beyond the junction the trail passed ponds, lava flows, and Junco Lake before arriving at the Pacific Crest Trail.
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Junco Lake
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We turned left on the PCT then right toward Sisters Mirror Lake after .2 miles.
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We followed trails around the lake to the SW side where the snowy white peak of South Sister was visible.
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After enjoying the view at Sisters Mirror Lake we began to wander off trail visiting the numerous other lakes and ponds in the area and getting better views of South Sister.
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We eventually made our way to Denude Lake where we picked up a clear trail again.
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We followed the path to the next lake which was Bounty Lake.
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After Bounty Lake we came to Lancelot Lake.
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We spent some time at Lancelot Lake. First we explored the area just west of the lake where some ducks were enjoying a cold swim in a small lake/pond.
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Then we wandered out to the rock wall that damned the lake and took a relaxing break in the sun.
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After our break we continued around the lake marveling at the clear yet colorful water of Lancelot Lake.
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We then made our way back to Sisters Mirror Lake and back to the PCT where we turned left for .4 miles passing the trail junction we had arrived at earlier and then leaving the PCT at a sign for Moraine Lake.
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We had expected to have some nice views of the South Sister on this portion of the hike. It looked like we would be passing along the edge of the Wickiup Plain, a pumice flat that we had passed by on our South Sister Loop the year before. As we hiked it became increasingly apparent that the trail would be staying in the forest and not reaching the pumice plain offering only brief glimpses of the tops of the South Sister and Broken Top.
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We could tell we were close to the plain so we made the decision to head cross country through the trees in order to reach the better views of the Wickiup Plain.
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We wound up finding a path which led across the plain so we followed it toward Kaleetan Butte.
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Mt. Bachelor Joined the view along the way.
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We wound up arriving at a familiar trail junction on the far end of the plain. It was the trail we had taken from Moraine Lake during our South Sister Loop. We also noticed a small sign at this end of the path we were following stating it was closed. Had we known we wouldn’t have followed it, but there were no signs at the other end. We turned right at the junction following an old road bed that predated the wilderness designation.
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After a half mile we arrived at the trail junction where we would have come out if we had stayed on the trail instead of heading for the plain.
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We headed toward Devils Lake descending around Kaleetan Butte for a mile where we arrived at another junction.
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We followed the pointer for Elk Lake which would lead us back to the Mirror Lakes Trail in 1.6 miles passing Blacktail Spring and Sink Creek along the way.
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It was really nice to see the mountains with some fresh snow on them after the dry Summer we’d had. The weather that had forced us to change our vacation plans had provided some great scenery for our final hike. Happy Trails!

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Table Rock to Pechuck Lookout

We have two lists of “To Do” day hikes within a reasonable driving distance. One list is the hikes we have yet to do, and the second list is hikes we want to try again for one reason or another. Table Rock was one of the hikes on the later list having first visited in October of 2012. During that hike smoke from the Pole Creek fire in the Three Sisters Wilderness had limited the views and being fall it was too late for many flowers. We had seen enough on that visit to think it would be worth a second visit in early summer to see if we could catch the views and see what flowers there might be. I put it down on our schedule as our annual 4th of July hike thinking the timing might be good for wildflowers plus the drive avoided much time on freeways or busy highways.

The Table Rock Wilderness consists of 6028 acres designated in 1984 as wilderness and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Several trailheads access the 16 miles of trails in the area. For our hike we started at the Table Rock Trailhead which happens to be the shortest route to the summit of Table Rock, the highest point in the wilderness.
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When we redo a trail I try to find some way to differentiate the hike from the earlier visit. Only 13 of our 172 hikes so far had been “re-hikes” and only 3 of those had we done the same exact trails. Three other times we added other short hikes on different trails, and on the remaining 7 we extended the hike visiting new places further along the trail. The plan to make this visit unique was to continue on past Rooster Rock, where we had turned around on our first visit, and continue on to Pechuck Lookout.

We set off on an old roadbed that is now the Table Rock Trail after rocks slides closed the road, the first at the current trailhead. We reached the second slide after .3 miles where the trail briefly entered the forest to bypass the slide.
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Beyond the second slide the old road again becomes the trail for nearly another mile. Small trees and flowers now line the gravel road making it a pleasant walk.
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Rabbit along the road.
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At the 1.3 mile mark the trail leaves the road for good at the site of the former trailhead. Shortly after reentering the forest the Image Creek Trail joins from the right. A nice sign that had not been there in 2012 pointed to the Table Rock Trail.
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From this junction the trail passes below a large rock field that extends from the base of Table Rock then swings out and around a rocky ridge before turning back toward Table Rock and entering the rock field going the opposite direction of the earlier pass below.
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The rock field offers a close up look at Table Rocks columnar basalt cliffs. Numerous pikas were calling out from the rocks all around us but we weren’t able to spot any.
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There were also a few flowers managing to bloom in the rocks.
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The trail then reenters the forest and climbs to a trail junction in a saddle. We turned left and followed the Table Rock Summit trail .4 miles to the tilted plateau of Table Rock.
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The view was indeed better than it had been on our previous visit despite a fire that had broken out on Mt. Adams the day before. We could just make out Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier along with Mt. Adams in Washington and had good views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, and the Three Sisters in Oregon.

Mt. Jefferson to the Three Sisters
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Mt. Hood
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Mt. Jefferson
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Three Fingered Jack
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Three Sisters
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Mt. Adams
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After exploring the plateau we returned to the junction and took the unsigned Saddle Trail toward Rooster Rock. Two things stand out about this trail. First is the ants which were everywhere. They were all over the trail and there were several large anthills right next to it.
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The second thing that made an impression is the steepness of this trail as it dips down and then back out of a thimbleberry meadow at the head of Image Creek. The trail all but disappeared in the thimbleberry bushes but it wasn’t too hard to follow. The nice thing about thimbleberry is that the plants do not have thorns so they are not bad to walk through. We did have to maneuver around a couple of devil’s club plants though.
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The steep climb up from Image Creek ends at a saddle below Rooster Rock. Trees here block the view of Rooster Rock but a short path to the right goes up through a small meadow to a rocky viewpoint.
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I had thought this small meadow might be a good wildflower spot, and there were some but not in any large amounts.
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The view toward Rooster Rock was better this time too.
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After a short rest we were ready to head for Pechuck Lookout. From the saddle we needed to drop down on the other side of the ridge to the High Ridge Trail. We were now starting the portion of the hike that we had not done before and we were in for a surprise. Just on the other side of the saddle was a meadow full of wildflowers.
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Many of the flowers were past their prime succumbing to the heat, but there were still enough to make it an impressive sight. In most years our timing would likely have been spot on but the hot dry weather we’d been having has all the flowers at least two weeks ahead of schedule. On the far side of the meadow the trail again entered the trees.
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The High Ridge Trail was far more gentle with its ups and downs than the Saddle Trail had been. After .7 miles the Rooster Rock Trail joined from the right coming up from the trailhead on Rooster Rock Rd.
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We continued going up and down along the ridge leaving the wilderness and arriving at another former trailhead along the gated road near Pechuck Lookout.
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The trail continued on the far side of the road passing a nice view of Table Rock along the way.
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This short section of trail was another steep one before ending at the lookout.
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Pechuck Lookout was staffed from 1918/19 until 1964 with the current structure having been built in 1932. It is now available for overnight stays on a first come first serve basis. There was no one staying there so we went inside to take a look around and sign the log book.
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It was too warm to stay inside for long so we headed back out into the shade and had anther bite to eat while watching the many butterflies flitting about.
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Aside from the view of Table Rock only Mt. Jefferson was visible and that mountain could only be seen in a couple of spots between some trees so it wouldn’t be a good place to stay if you’re hoping for mountain views.

We returned the way we’d come, skipping the side trips to the rocky viewpoint and the summit of Table Rock. The views to the south had become increasingly hazy, but Mt. Hood looked much clearer now that the sun had passed over.
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The only other hikers we saw all day were between the summit trail junction and the old road on the way back to our car and that was only two other couples. The final stretch along the old road felt really long after all the climbing we’d done. I spent part of the final 1.3 miles chasing an orange butterfly that wouldn’t sit still long enough for me to get a picture. It took awhile but Warren (as I named him) finally gave me some shots.
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It wound up being a longer hike than we expected. Everything we looked at indicated we’d be doing 14.8 miles but the final GPS reading was 15.7. With the various trailheads available this could have easily been split up into several shorter hikes for more sensible hikers. The Table Rock Wilderness is certainly a place worth visiting, and there should be plenty of ripe thimbleberries come August. Happy Trails!

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Mt. Scott (Crater Lake National Park) & Tipsoo Peak (Mt. Thielsen Wilderness)

After a semi-rest day (Sparks Lake) we headed to Crater Lake National Park for our third visit hoping this time to actually be able to see the lake. In 2012 smoke had made it nearly invisible and earlier this year clouds had completely blocked the view. This time we were not disappointed.

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Crater Lake in the morning

Our plan was to hike to the former lookout tower on Mt. Scott, the highest point in the park at 8938′ and then head north on Hwy 138 to the Tipsoo Peak Trail and also summit that 8034′ peak. The two hikes combined would be just over 11 miles with a combined 3000′ of elevation gain making them very doable in a single day.

The Mt. Scott Trail sets off along a broad plain at the base of the mountain giving a clear view of the entire peak as well as the lookout tower on it’s northern end.
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The trail climbs around to the south side of the mountain and then up to the long ridge along Mt. Scotts summit. Not only were the skies clear above Crater Lake but we were able to see mountain peaks from Mt. Shasta in the south to Mt. Jefferson up north along the way. The views started early along the trail and just improved was we climbed.

Mt. Shasta, Mt. McLoughlin, and Union Peak to the south.
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Crater Lake
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Crater Lake from Mt. Scott

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Mt. Thielsen and Diamond Peak
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The Three Sisters
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Mt. Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack
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While we were traversing the ridge over to the lookout tower we spotted a hawk soaring high above the park.
Hawk soaring over Crater Lake National Park

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After checking out the tower we headed back down to the car to start the drive to the Tipsoo Peak Trail. We had to make a couple of stops just to take in the beauty of Crater Lake.
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We left the park and drove up to the Tipsoo Trail where we were surprised to find a much nicer forest than we had expected. Our previous trips in the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness had been through lodgepole pine forests which are not exactly eye candy.
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We were also surprised by the number of mushrooms we spotted.
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The climb was very gradual making it fairly easy going as we approached the summit. Near the top the trail passed by the edge of pumice filled Howlock Meadows where Howlock Mountain, Mt. Thielsen, and Mt. Bailey were visible.
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Red cinder covered the top of Tipsoo Peak and the 360 degree view revealed several mountains and lakes.
View from Tipsoo Peak

Red Cone
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Howlock Mountain and Mt. Thielsen
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Diamond Peak
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The Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor
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Mt. Bailey and Diamond Lake
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Lemolo Lake
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Miller Lake
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Madieu Lake
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Lucille Lake
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These were a couple of really nice hikes if you are looking for big views without a long or steep hike. Both hikes were on the shorter end (4.6 & 6.5 miles) and both trails climbed very gradually making them very nice options. The access road for the Tipsoo Peak trail was a bit rough and would probably require a high clearance vehicle though. Happy Trails!

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South Sister Loop – Day 3

After not being able to fall asleep in the wake of an amazing second day the third day of our backpacking loop started way to early. I woke up just after 5am needing to empty my bladder. Looking out our tent to the East I could see an orange glow through the trees indicating that the Sun was coming, but not for awhile. I threw my headlamp on, grabbed my camera hoping to get a shot of the horizon, and started to walk toward the edge of the plateau that Demaris Lake sits on. I was scanning the forest with my light when I noticed a pair of glowing eyes about 50yds to the left of our tent. They were fairly low to the ground and I couldn’t tell what it was. Since I didn’t know what kind of animal was staring at me I wasn’t sure if I should get big or slowly back away. Not being fully awake my solution was to take a picture using the flash to see if I could figure out what it was. That may not have been the best idea, but when the flash went off I could see that it was a deer that was bedded down.
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She got up after I took the picture and began walking along the ridge in front of me so I stopped heading that way and thought I would loop around behind to get my horizon picture. Apparently she didn’t like that because when I looked back in the direction she had been headed she had turned around and was now walking toward me with her head down.
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She stopped when she realized I’d spotted her and I backtracked down to the lake shore and tried taking a wider loop around a rocky outcropping to get my picture. I got to good viewpoint and after scanning for the deer I set about trying to get a decent picture.
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After taking a few pictures I suddenly had a strange feeling. Glancing to my right there was that crazy deer again staring at me with those glowing eyes. I headed back down to the lake and hurried back to the tent site to grab my poles and wake Heather up thinking that maybe the presence of a second person would deter the stalker deer. It must have because we didn’t see her again and were able to watch the sunrise light up the mountains and trees above the lake.
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After a deer free breakfast we returned to the Camp Lake Trail at the North Fork Wychus Creek. A nice little waterfall lay just downstream from the creek crossing.
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Soon we entered the area burned during the 2012 Pole Creek Fire.
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The forest is only starting to recover from the fire so there wasn’t much to see as we made our way to the Green Lakes Trail and Soda Creek.
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We turned right on the Green Lakes Trail and headed south toward Park Meadow. The first section of trail remained in the burn area but we were now headed back toward the mountains so we at least had a view.
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After recrossing the North Fork Wychus Creek and then crossing the South Fork Wychus Creek the trail passed between a pair of ponds at the edge of the burn. The large pond on the left was empty while the much smaller pond on the right was filled with ducks.
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After leaving the burn area our next marker was the West Fork Park Creek in Red Meadow.
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There weren’t many flowers in the meadow but a hawk provided some entertainment as it watched us from a nearby tree.
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From there it was just under a mile to our next trail junction located in Park Meadow.
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After taking a quick look at Park Creek we continued on the Green Lakes Trail passing through Park Meadow. The meadow was quite large with a good view of both Broken Top and the South Sister. Although it was fairly dry many gentian flowers dotted the ground along with the occasional aster.
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We were looking for a side trail about a mile from Park Meadow that would take us to Golden Lake. There was no sign marking the .7 mile trail to the lake but as we made our way toward the lake we did see signs announcing the areas restrictions.
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It was easy to see why this was a popular spot.
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We hiked around to the far end of the lake and decided to follow the inlet creek up looking for a place to set up our tent far enough from the lake to fit the 250′ restriction. We knew that there were a pair of tarns about a mile up from Golden Lake which we had originally planned on visiting after we had found our camp site and dropped off our gear. We weren’t having much luck finding a site, but the scenery was once again spectacular. Wildflowers lined the creek and the water was as clear as glass. We were headed straight at Broken Top and the South Sister loomed across the creek to our right.
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We eventually reached the beginning of the creek as it flowed out from the bottom of a rocky hillside.
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We began climbing the hill expecting to find the first tarn at the top.
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We were not disappointed.
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The water in the tarn was crystal clear and the views extended to Mt. Jefferson to the North.
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A path led up another hill to the second tarn. It was quite a bit smaller and there was a hiker with a dog splashing around in it so we headed back down to the first tarn and went about setting up camp. We had found our spot for the night.
Second tarn
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South Sister over the first tarn
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Our campsite back in the trees on the far side of the tarn.
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We had views all around from the site.
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The nice part was we had arrived just after 1pm so we had plenty of time to soak our feet (the water was way too cold for anything else) and watch the wildlife that would occasionally stop by the tarn.
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We decided to try and turn in early (or at least take a nap) since we didn’t get much sleep the night before so we laid down in the tent around 6pm. Heather fell asleep but I wasn’t having any luck so I got back up shortly after 7pm and took a few more pictures. It had been hazy to north all weekend but I could now make out Mt. Hood in that direction, and rays of sunlight shot through the gap between the South and Middle Sister.
The Three Sisters, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Hood at 7:04pm
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Broken Top at 7:07pm
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I went back to the tent and laid back down after taking the picture of Broken Top hoping to finally get some sleep. About 20 minutes later I smelled smoke. Thinking it was a campfire I lay there for a minute wondering if someone wasn’t able to follow the restriction on campfires. The smell kept getting strong so I sat up and looked around. Smoke was filling the basin below Broken Top and when I turned around I could see a line of smoke passing between the Sisters. The whole valley below us was full of smoke and it looked like it was rising up from somewhere on the other side of the South Sister.
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I woke Heather up and we began discussing what to do. Another hiker came up to the tarn and she was wondering what was going on as well. She had a satellite phone and had managed to talk to a friend in Bend but they didn’t have any knowledge of a fire near the Sisters. There were some fires near Oakridge, OR 40 miles to the South but it didn’t seem possible that this smoke was coming from there. Looking at the smoke column we weren’t sure if we would be able to hike out via Green Lakes since it appeared to be rising from somewhere in that direction so we considered our Plan B evacuation route back through Park Meadow to the Three Creeks Campground. We were also debating on if we should try and stick it out through the night of if we should just pack up and try and get out before it got any worse. We quickly agreed that neither of us would be able to get any sleep under these conditions and if the smoke got any worse it would certainly be unhealthy even if we did manage to fall asleep.

We loaded everything up grabbed our headlamps and started back down toward Golden Lake just after 8:15pm. We were watching the smoke column still unable to decide exactly where it was emanating from when arrived back at Golden Lake. No one had any new news at the lake so we decided to attempt to hike out as originally planned past the Green Lakes as it looked like the smoke was coming from the far side of the South Sister.

This was our first experience with night hiking so we didn’t know exactly what to expect. Our adrenaline was pumping as we began climbing the Green Lakes Trail to its high point above the Green Lakes. To our surprise and relief the smoke lessened as we went. By the time we arrived at the Green Lakes area the sky was full of stars and the smell of smoke had all but vanished.
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I managed one picture of the elusive Green Lakes having once again missed seeing them in the light of day.
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We were now committed to leaving though so we kept hiking. It turned out to be quite a bit of fun. We missed out on seeing a lot but the sky was beautiful and we spotted some things we would not have seen during the day like toads and the glowing eyes of many deer.
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We were fortunate that the Green Lakes Trail is well used and easy to follow. By 11:40pm we had reached the trailhead and our waiting car. There was no sign of fire anywhere around and as it turned out the smoke had come from the Deception Creek Complex of fires near Oakridge. The wind had apparently shifted just right flooding the area with smoke. Although it would have been nice to have spent the night by the tarn and been able to wake up to that view we felt like we made the right choice. Experiencing our first night hike was something to remember and it brought our day 3 total to a nice round 21 miles. It truly was a trip to remember.

Happy (and smoke free) Trails!

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South Sister Loop – Day 2

We woke up early on day 2 anxious to see what surprises awaited us. It didn’t take long for the first one. We had seemingly been the only ones camped around Linton Meadows but when we awoke we found we were not alone.
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The sun was just starting to rise as we packed up and headed to Linton Creek to replenish our water supply before heading back to the Pacific Crest Trail.
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After getting water we headed South on the James Creek trail returning to the 5 way trail junction we had passed the day before. At the junction we turned left on the Foley Ridge Trail and climbed a mile to the PCT.
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We turned right on the PCT and headed toward Reese Lake where we hoped to pick up a climbers trail that would lead us between the Middle and South Sister. There were still some pretty good flowers lining the PCT.
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We turned off the PCT at little Reese Lake. The small lake had crystal clear water and a nice view of the South Sister.
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Working our way around the North side of the lake we picked up a trail leading East which we hopped would lead us to Separation Creek and the climbers trail. We chose wisely and arrived at Separation Creek on a clear path. We had seen Separation Creek back in May when we hiked to Separation Lake https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/proxy-falls-separation-lake/. Crossing the creek was very different this close to its source.
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Separation Creek below Separation Lake in May.
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There was a well worn trail following the creek up toward the saddle between the two mountains.
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It was an interesting landscape. There were numerous types of rocks, wildflowers, and volcanic formations all around.
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After a stiff climb through over a forested ridge we came to the Frazier Upland and the first of the Chambers Lakes.
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We passed by the first lake, crossed a snowfield, and climbed another ridge to find the second Chambers Lake.
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There are a number of lakes that make up the Chambers Lakes each tucked in a depression surrounded by moraines but these were the only two our route would take us past. There was a good sized snowfield near the second lake which we would either need to cross or drop below. Not wanting to climb any more than we absolutely had to we opted to try crossing the snowfield. It was warm enough that the snow was soft and we easily made it across without needing to break out our Yaktrax.
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We had one last ridge to climb before dropping down to Camp Lake and an “official” trail. The final ridge was covered in wind bent whitebark pines. They seemed to be making a gateway to Central Oregon and the East side of the mountains.
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The scenery at the pass was some of the best we’d seen. The contrast in colors of the various rocks, snow, trees, and even some flowers was otherworldly.
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We passed a group of backpackers that had just come up from Camp Lake. They were happy to be finished with the climb and we quickly understood why after seeing what they had come up.
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It was a steep descent but we were happy to be going the direction we were instead of having to go up it. The view at the bottom was gorgeous.
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We arrived at the breathtaking Camp Lake and took our packs off. It was time to soak our feet and give our shoulders a rest.
Camp Lake

While we were resting a couple from Coos Bay, that we had seen earlier going the other direction at the second Chambers Lake, returned and we had a nice conversation before continuing on. Camp Lake offered one last photo op when the wind calmed enough to get a nice reflection of the South Sister.
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We were now on the Camp Lake Trail and headed to the Demaris Lake Trail junction on the bank of the North Fork Wychus Creek. As we continued to descend to the East, the Middle and South Sister were joined by the North Sister and Broken Top.
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When we reached the Demaris Lake junction we turned right and took the .8 mile trail to the lake. We had chosen Demaris Lake simply because it would mean a slightly shorter hike on day 3 and we like to visit as many places as possible if we are in the area. As it turned out Demaris Lake was much nicer than we had anticipated. It had many camp sites, mountain views, and lot of big dragon flies zooming about.
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We were really surprised that there was no one else at this lake. We had seen several groups of people going the other direction on the climbers trail and the couple at Camp Lake, but no one was here except for some wildlife.
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We picked out our camp site and then set about exploring the area.
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Our afternoon explorations led to some totally unexpected discoveries.
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We returned to Demaris Lake re-energized by the discoveries which turned out to be an issue. Neither one of us could fall asleep despite having been awake by 5:30 and hiking 34 miles in two days. Sometime after midnight we finally dozed off but it wouldn’t be for long, Day 3 was coming and it would be full of even more surprises.

Happy Trails!

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South Sister Loop – Day 1

After kicking off our vacation with a visit to Broken Tops no name lake we took a day off and got ready for what we originally planned to be a 4 day backpacking trip around the South Sister in the Three Sisters Wilderness. We wound up finishing the loop in 3 days instead of 4 hiking two 20+ mile days, our first ever over that number. Given the mileage and the amount of places we visited we are going to break this report up into three entries instead of trying to fit it all into one.

The route we were going to take would start and end at the Green Lakes/Soda Creek Trailhead. http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/deschutes/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=38870&actid=50
We decided to take a less direct route around the mountain in order to visit some of the places we had yet to see in the wilderness. Below is our GPS track from the trip (The hike to the no name lake is also on the map to the right).

South Sister Loop

We were excited for this hike for a number of reasons. We had tried to visit the Green Lakes on four previous occasions including our first attempted hike together over 20 years earlier. Snow had turned us back that day and again in 2011, in 2012 it was a forest fire, and in 2013 thunderstorms stymied our plans. The forecast was good this time around and there were no fires in the immediate area as we set off from the trailhead. The sky was blue except for above each of the mountains which were each covered in white clouds.
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In 1994 we managed to hike up Fall Creek a little over a mile before being turned back. We both remembered being impressed with the creek and the scenery but couldn’t remember exactly what we had seen. We were quickly reminded of why Fall Creek left such an impression on us. In the first two miles Fall Creek lived up to its name with over a half dozen cascades of varying sizes.
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At the two mile mark we took the Moraine Lake Trail to the left and veered away from the creek. After crossing a lava flow and climbing over a ridge we arrived at Moraine Lake. We had been at the lake the year before after climbing the South Sister. It was just as pretty this time around nestled beneath a moraine with a front row view of the South Sister.
Moraine Lake
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After leaving Moraine Lake we headed toward the Wickiup Plains on our way to the Pacific Crest Trail. The clouds were starting to burn off of the mountains as we passed through the plains. Broken Top was behind us with the South Sister on our right and the Wife ahead.
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The plains offered an interesting landscape with open views all around.
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As we headed North toward the PCT on the Le Conte Trail we were able to see a couple of peaks that are often overlooked due to their proximity to the larger Three Sisters, The Wife at 7054′ and The Husband at 7524′.
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We met the PCT and turned right passing the Rock Mesa lava flow and views of the South Sister.
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The PCT eventually left the plains and entered more forested terrain crossing several branches of Mesa Creek amid meadows and wildflowers.
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We left the PCT when we reached the James Creek Trail. We had planned on camping at Linton Meadows the first night and this trail would eventually lead us there and take us past some other interesting sights. The first of these was the James Creek Shelter which sat at the edge of a meadow made green by James Creek.
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Next we passed a small pond where Heather spotted a tadpole.
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Flower lined Hinton Creek was next.
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Followed by Separation Creek. We may have found some of the tadpoles relatives there.
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At a five way trail junction we stayed straight continuing on toward Linton Meadows. The clouds had finally lifted from the mountain tops and here we got our first good look at the Middle Sister.
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Another junction awaited just .3 miles later. We had originally planned on staying straight and going directly to Linton Meadows but we were enjoying the scenery so much we decided to take a longer route to the meadows and go past Husband and Eileen Lakes first. The 2.4 mile trail would lead us beneath The Husband, past the two lakes, and back to the far end of Linton Meadows. It was interesting to see The Husband up close. The shape reminded us a lot of Broken Top.
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The first lake we reached was Husband Lake. It was a nice lake with views of both the Middle and South Sister.
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After a nice break at Husband Lake we continued on toward Eileen Lake. The trail passed a rock slide at the base of The Husband where we were surprised to see some Columbine in bloom.
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There was also the cutest little tree attempting to grow out of the side of a boulder.
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The North Sister made its first appearance of the day as we continued North.
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Eileen Lake was a gem with green shores and great views. There had been several people camped near Husband Lake but for some reason no one was at Eileen Lake. As we made our way around the lake we encountered a large number of tiny frogs. We had to walk very carefully so we didn’t step on any since they were all over on the trail.
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We eventually made our way around to the best views from the lake.
Eileen Lake
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We left the lake and the frogs behind and in another .8 miles reached the junction with the James Creek Trail at the edge of Linton Meadows.
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Several branches of Linton Creek flow through the meadows creating a large swath of green with the Middle & South Sister providing the backdrop. There were not many flowers left but a couple of patches remained and the sound of the streams roaring down hillside on the far side of the meadows completed the experience.
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We headed back South here and found a campsite at the edge of the meadows. We seemed to be the only ones camped in the area which suited us just fine.
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After getting camp set up we had one more thing to visit – Linton Springs. There is no official trail to the springs but I had a feeling there might be a way up to them so we set off looking for any signs of a trail that might lead us to them. We managed to find some faint trails and picked our way up the main stream being careful to avoid damaging the plants. As we neared the springs we found a more established path and followed it up to an amazing view.
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The springs were truly impressive cascading down from all around the rim of a small bowl.
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It was a perfect way to cap off our first day. We had already visited so many diverse and beautiful places we couldn’t wait to see what day 2 had in store when we would return to the PCT and head to the Chambers Lakes between the Middle and South Sister and finally past Camp Lake to Demaris Lake for our second night.

Happy Trails!

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The hikes of 2013 – A year in review.

What an amazing year of hiking it was! As we reach then end of 2013 we thought we’d make one final entry recapping the beautiful areas and unique features we were blessed enough to encounter while out on our “wanderings”. We began the year in February at the Oregon Coast, hiking at Gwynn Creek and Cape Perpetua then finished up just a couple of weeks ago, once again on the Oregon Coast at Tillamook Head, 140 miles north of where we had started. Sandwiched in between these two hikes were 40 other adventures in which we climbed mountains, crossed rivers, and scrambled cross-country to explore a small sampling of the trails of NW Oregon and SW Washington. We put together a map of the approximate location of the trailheads for each of the hikes.
2013 Trailheads
An interactive version can be viewed on mapquest using the following link.
http://mapq.st/1bQXoXo

I’ve always been interested in numbers so I have kept quite a few statistics regarding these 42 hikes. Here are some of those that I found most interesting. We visited 10 wilderness and 2 scenic areas in 8 different national forests. In addition to the national forests we hiked in 4 state parks and at a national volcanic monument. Some of the other numbers are as follows:
Total Miles (according to the Garmin) – 515.2
Cumulative Elevation Gained (approx.) – 88,000′
Minimum/Maximum Elevation – sea level/10,358′
Total Moving Time (per the Garmin) – 240hrs 36min
Total Time on the Trails (per the Garmin) – 280hrs 6min
Total Miles Driven (approx.) – 7550 miles

For the most part the weather was good. We had a warm, dry end to Winter which carried into Spring clearing many trails of snow earlier than normal. This allowed for some earlier visits to some of the higher elevation areas and also an early bloom for most of the wildflowers including the bear grass which only blooms every 2nd or 3rd year. A mild summer kept temperatures bearable and despite the dry beginning to the year the fire season wasn’t too bad. Fall brought an early snowstorm and left an early winter wonderland at mid-elevations and some unusually cold temperatures of late created some interesting ice displays.

Words can’t do justice to the beauty of God’s creation that we experienced this so year I’ll try to keep them to a minimum and attempt to let pictures show what they can.
I have to start with the Cascade Mountains. The most awe inspiring creations, these steadfast beacons that on clear days dot the horizon always seem to draw our attention.

From the rim of Crater Lake in the south to Mt. Rainier in the north they rise above the other ridges, rooted in their positions, yet ever changing in order or varying in appearance depending on what our location was. Some of the views we had were amazing.

Mt. Scott, Mt. Thielsen, Mt. Baily, & Diamond Peak from the South Sister Summit
View from the South Sister
Cascade Peaks from Mt. Bachelor to Mt. Hood (minus the North Sister which was hidden behind the Middle) from Mt. Fuji
Waldo Lake
Mt. Washington to Mt. Hood from the Pacfic Crest Trail near Yapoah Crater
Belknap Crater, Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson & Mt. Hood
Mt. Washington to Mt. Bachelor from Three Fingered Jack
Broken Top, Mt. Bachelor, The Three Sisters, Mt. Washington and The Husband
Mt. Rainier, The Goat Rocks, and Mt. Adams from Wildcat Mountain
Mr. Rainier, The Goat Rocks, and Mt. Adams
Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams from Silver Star Mountain
View from Ed' Trail

Individual peaks working from the south to the north.
Mt. Thielsen:
From Fuji Mountian
Mt. Thielsen

Diamond Peak:
From Waldo Mountain
Fuji Mountain and Diamond Peak
From Fuji Mountain
Diamond Peak

Mt. Bachelor:
From Fuji Mountain
Mt. Bachelor
From Tam MacArthur Rim
Mt. Bachelor

Broken Top:
From above Moraine Lake
Broken Top and Moraine Lake
From Fuji Mountain
Broken Top and Ball Butte
From Tam MacArthur Rim
Broken Top

South Sister:
From above Moraine Lake
South Sister Climbers Trail
From Tam MacArthur Rim
South Sister
From Fuji Mountain
South Sister

Middle & North Sister
From Tam MacArthur Rim
Middle and North Sister
From Scott Meadow
North & Middle Sister and Little Brother from Scott Meadow
From the South Sister
South Sister summit view

Mt. Washington
From the Matthieu Lakes Trail
Mt. Washington
From Fuji Mountain
Mt. Washington and Belknap Crater
From Three Fingered Jack
Mt. Washington and The Husband

Three Fingered Jack:

From the Matthieu Lakes Trail
Three Fingered Jack
From Canyon Creek Meadows
Three Fingered Jack from the upper meadow

Mt. Jefferson:
From Fuji Mountain (Dwarfing Three Fingered Jack)
Mt. Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack
From Hanks Lake
Hank's Lake
From Three Fingered Jack
Looking back down
From Bays Lake in Jefferson Park
Bays Lake in Jefferson Park

Mt. Hood:
From Barrett Spur
Mt. Hood from Barrett Spur
From Table Mountain
Mt. Hood from Table Mountain
From Elk Meadows
Mt. Hood from Elk Meadows
From Lamberson Butte
Mt. Hood
From Youcum Ridge
Mt. Hood from Yocum Ridge
From Timothy Lake
Mt. Hood from Timothy Lake

Mt. St. Helens:
Mt. St. Helens
From the Loowit Trail on Mt. St. Helens
Mt. St. Helens from the Loowit Trail
From Johnston Ridge
Mt. St. Helens

Mt. Adams:
From Silver Star Mountain
Paintbrush, penstemon and Mt. Adams

Mt. Rainier:
From Wildcat Mountain
Mt. Rainier

From the giant rock towers of the mountains we move on to the delicate meadows full of wildflowers that often times call the mountains home. We visited amazing wildflower displays near Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, and Three Fingered Jack but the Cascades were possibly outdone by Silver Star Mountain in Washington.
Bear Grass on Mt. St. Helens
Mt. St. Helens from a beargrass meadow along the Loowit Trail
Balsam Root and Paintbrush in the Ochoco National Forest
Paintbrush and balsamroot
Clearcut on Silver Star Mountain
Tarabell Trail
Meadow on Salmon Butte
An arnica in  a meadow of plectritis, larkspur and monkeyflower
Elk Meadows
Elk Meadows
Near Heather Creek on Mt. Hood
Wildflowers along the Timberline Trail at Heather Creek
Mt. Hood Meadows
Wildflowers in Mt. Hood Meadows
Lupine in Canyon Creek Meadows
Three Fingered Jack
On Coffin Mountain
Aster, penstemon and paintbrush
Avalanche Lilies on the Timberline Trail
Avalanche lilies
Western Pasque flowers and Paintbrush near Elk Cove
Mt. Hood from the Timberline Trail near Elk Cove
Barret Spur on Mt. Hood
Lupine and monkeyflower
Gentians in Jefferson Park
Gentians
Jefferson Park
Wildflowers along the South Breitbenbush Trail
Along the South Brietenbush River in Jefferson Park
Wildflowers along the South Breitenbush River
Aster on Yocum Ridge
Aster field on Yocum Ridge
On Yocum Ridge
Wildflowers along the Yocum Ridge Trail
More from Yocum Ridge
Paintbrush and aster

There weren’t many hikes where the presence of water was not felt. We encountered it in various forms and in an array of colors. There were lakes, creeks, rivers, waterfalls, springs, and the Pacific Ocean adding sights and sounds to our hikes.
Roaring Creek
Roaring Creek
McKenzie River
Mckenzie River
Tamolitch Pool
Tamolitch Pool
Russell Lake
Mt. Jefferson from Russell Lake
Umbrella Falls
Umbrella Falls
Diamond Creek Falls
Diamond Creek Falls
Heather Creek
Waterfall on Heather Creek
South Matthieu Lake
South Mattieu Lake
Benham Falls
Benham Falls
Carver, Camp, and the Chambers Lakes
Carver, Camp and some of the Chambers Lakes
Lewis Tarn
Lewis Tarn
Creek near Pamelia Lake
Waterfall near Pamelia Lake
Timothy Lake
Timothy Lake
Little Crater Lake
Little Crater Lake
Frozen pond near Fuji Mountain
Half frozen pond
Birthday Lake
Birthday Lake
Ramona Falls
Ramona Falls
Pacific Ocean at Tillamook Head
View from Ecola State Park
Pacific Ocean from Cape Perpetua
Looking south from Cape Perpetua
Last but not least the most unpredictable of the sights out on the trails are the creatures that call these places home. From flying ants on Coldwater Peak to the black bear who left its tracks in the snow on Fuji Mountain we were the tourists traipsing through their neighborhoods. We spotted our first elk, snow shoe hare, and sooty grouse this year. We also had the mysterious case of “mouse rain” on Salmon Butte which you can read about here:https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/salmon-butte/
Crawdads in Middle Rock Lake
Tide pool at Cape Kiwanda
Snail
Rough skinned newt
Snake
Tree frog
Spider along the Tam McArthur Rim Trail
Bug on Fuji Mountain
Frog
Butterflies
Zerene fritillary butterfly
Swallowtail butterfly
Swallowtail butterfly
Edith's checkerspot
Milbert's Tortoiseshell Butterfly on the way up Coldwater Peak
Hoary Comma
Hoary Comma
Mountain parnassian
Birds
Bald eagle
Seagull buffet
Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Owl
Gray jay taking a bath
Duck family
Northern Flicker
Osprey
Hummingbird
Red Crossbill
Osprey flying over ducks on Timothy Lake
Hummingbird
Canada geese
Pelicans
Ducks on Wall Lake
Great Blue Heron
Little guys
Chipmunk
Pika
Douglas squirrel
Golden Mantled Squirrels
Snowshoe hare

Big Guys
Our first elk sighting. Near the Observation Peak Trailhead
Columbia Black Tailed Deer
Elk herd on the far shore of the Deschutes River
Elk
Deer near the Lower Black Butte Trailhead

We’d like to leave you with what each of us found to be their favorite hike and the most difficult. For myself Elk Meadows was my favorite. https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/elk-meadows/ The variety and beauty we encountered on that hike put it atop my list. As for the most difficult I chose Silver Star Mountain https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/silver-star-mountain/ which was also in the running for my favorite. The heat on that day made it the hardest one for me.

After much deliberation Heather chose the same hike as I did her favorite, Elk Meadows; something about that day had her mesmerized as we traveled up Gnarl Ridge towards Mt. Hood. For the most difficult she picked Observation Peak due in part to having fallen shortly after we stared the hike and spraining her hand and wrist. It made for a more challenging and uncomfortable hike as she endeavored to keep her injury elevated above her heart during most of the journey. https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/observation-peak/

Dominique chose Fuji Mountain for his favorite. There was snow and a great view with a reasonable amount of distance. https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/fuji-mountain/ For the most difficult he picked Table Mountain and the climb up Heartbreak Ridge. https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/06/14/table-mountain/

I am already hard at work putting together a 2014 itinerary which will include some overnight backpacking trips and hopefully visits to the Goat Rocks Wilderness and Mt. Adams in Washington. If all goes as planned we will kick things off in January, take things slow until we’ve recovered from our April half or full marathons, and then be ready to crank things up in May. Until 2014 here is a link to a 2013 hikes in pictures album on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157635497870439/

Merry Christmas & Happy Trails!