I haven't posted in here for awhile, so I thought I'd do a little cross-posterooney:
Friday morning, I headed down over Santiam Pass, into Sisters, and then up into a raincloud known as Lava Canyon Trailhead.
I knew the rain wouldn't last though—you could see the weather was just lingering over the Cascades from the Sisters. My plan was to do the Three Sisters Loop in 2 days. At just over 50 miles, this was totally doable, but as I would later find out, the snow was a little more voluminous than expected, making my original plan a little dicey.
A lava pile next to some fog.
Lower Matthieu Lake, in all its cloudy glory.
The trailhead is in a large lava flow area with huge piles of lava rock which look as if they were dumped there by a giant dump truck. Very cool. The trail quickly meets the PCT, and, as I decided to go clockwise, quickly leaves the PCT for the east side. There were several areas of snow, an inch or so thick around 5800', however nothing that worried me at the time. Also, it was raining so I was hopeful things would quickly melt off.
The trail descends into a burnt area, and then meanders along with the occasional view of the Sisters. After a few stream crossings, one wrong turn, and a few quick stops, I made it to Park Meadow. This place must be really nice earlier in the season, but everything had dried up by now.
From Park Meadow, the trail heads up toward a plateau before reaching Green Lakes. However, around 6500' the trail began to experience frequent soft snow, and by the plateau at 7000', the snow was 3-4" deep. This wasn't a big problem hiking in, but to make my 26 miles each day, and seeing over the hill that the snow was present at even lower elevations, my mileage wouldn't be doable. Because most of the west side hovers around 6600' and as 26 miles in 3" of snow would have been a really big chore, I decided to head back down below the snow line, and camp for the night. Even if doable, walking in mushy snow, for hours on end, is really morale busting. On my way, I ran into two rangers who were following some hunters that they were concerned about. Apparently, the hunters were "night hunting." I'm not sure that this is an uncommon practice, but I whistled down the last mile of trail as it got darker, just to make sure. Also, forgetting to wear blaze orange, I pulled a corner of my yellow Cricket out and fashioned it to the back of my MLD burn.
Middle and North Sister
The bottom of the picture there is about 6200' and the snow kept going down from there. :(
Le Broken Top.
I found a nice lake to camp at, and turned in around 8. I was pretty tired after 25 miles.
Knowing I only had to cover 17 miles this morning, I woke up around 9:30 and headed back towards Lava Canyon. The weather today was fantastic, and the views from Scotts Pass were great! I opted to take the PCT back instead of the Lower Mathieu Lake route, which offered nice views of the lava piles and the mountains to the north. There were also several day hikers who had come up to the smaller Mathieu lake.
Two cool mounds. Something Crater and Something Butte?
I love lava piles.
I can't wait to do the whole loop.
The Three Presidents. (President Washington, President Jefferson, President Three Fingered Jack)
42.0 miles, 4000' gained, 1 night