We love hiking in the Three Sisters Wilderness area just west of Bend, Oregon, and so planned a weekend of hikes. Our daughter wanted to join Dan to hike to the top of South Sister, and one of our sons decided to join them at the last minute. Dan and I drove out Wednesday evening. The ‘kids’ joined us Thursday evening, then returned home after the Friday hike. It was hot everywhere, but we had some beautiful hikes through summer meadows.
Green Lakes Thursday 7/19/2018 (Hike#42)
My choice for Thursday was to hike into the Green Lakes basin between South Sister and Broken Top. It is a lovely hike along Fall Creek. The first two miles are through partially shady forest, with numerous waterfalls and cataracts to look down upon.
Eventually South Sister comes into view above the trees.
The upper trail is bound to the west by a wall-like volcanic flow studded with large chunks of shiny obsidian that glint in the sunlight.
After two switchbacks, the remainder of the trail is lined with blooming alpine riparian plants – so pleasant to walk along that I was able to ignore the sun and the gradual climb.
Once into the Green Lakes Basin, the looming Broken Top and a view of the Hodge Crest of South Sister, as well as a peek at the top of Middle Sister to the north, surround the stunning very cold Green Lakes.
We rested in the shade for a while, first with a view of Broken Top,
then with a view of South Sister. From this viewpoint we can only see the Hodge Crest, which is about 300 feet lower than the true summit.
The meadow flowers that grow on the moraine-like surface of the Green Lakes basin showed me a couple of new flowers I hadn’t seen before.
So many flowers in the meadows:
And, for the first time, I spotted a floating rock (pumice) in the wild. We used to float pumice in Intro Geology labs many years ago. Of course it must be a common occurrence in this volcanic landscape where the surface is speckled with pumice stones, but this was a first sighting for me.
Critters: We saw a frog in one of the creeks, and Dan was photobombed by a butterfly he was trying to photograph:
We retraced our steps back to the trailhead. The total for the day, 9.2 miles/1200 feet was the longest I have hiked this spring. The elevation rise on this hike is very gradual, so I found I could manage. I am glad my body cooperated today after the fail last week. It was not quite as hot here, and there was a breeze that helped.
Spa Day/Dan and Brian climb South Sister 7/20/2018
Two of our children accompanied Dan up the grueling trail (5000 feet/12miles round trip) to the top of South Sister (elevation 10,358′). I hiked part of this trail in 2015 – about 4000 feet and ten miles of it. I got to the point where I was looking over at the top of Lewis Glacier, about 1000 feet below the summit.
Emily went about half way up today, but her running injury to her calf caused her to turn back, and so I got to spend part of my down time at the hotel with her. The guys made at the top:
Todd and Sparks Lakes 7/21/2018 (Hike#43)
Today we took two leisurely flat hikes, for a total of 3.5 miles.
We had never been to Todd Lake before – the challenge here on a summer Saturday is to nab a parking space, but we got one, so we wandered slowly around this sparkling gem, views alternating to the east side of Broken Top and the northwest side of Mt Bachelor above the forests and wildflower meadows. It really was a perfect little stroll along the lakeshore with a nice breeze to cut the heat.
Polliwogs were swimming along the lake shore.
Wildflowers in abundance along the southern shore
This inlet had both magenta and red-orange paintbrush –
Wide meadows on the west side of Todd Lake had swaths of elephant head that were mostly past bloom, lots of paintbrush, trickling streams lined with flowers, and views to Mt Bachelor.
We ate lunch near a trickling inlet with views of Mt Bachelor
As we walked into the forested north shore trail, the wildflower suite changed a bit.
Back to the starting point of the loop, Broken Top is in view again.
Then we drove down the dusty road to the Roy Atkeson Trail at Sparks Lake. We walked a short way down the trail to the stunning viewpoints across lava rock and the shallow lake to South Sister and Broken Top from a slightly different, southern vantage point. Hotter here, and fewer flowers, but still a worthwhile visit.
Dee Wright Observatory 7/22/2018
On our drive home on Sunday, we took a side trip to McKenzie Pass to this famous lookout in the lava fields between the Three Sisters and Mt Washington. I love the expansive views and sere landscape.
There is also a short trail through the lava field here, with signage about the geologic history of the McKenzie Pass area.
A lava stairway winds to the top of the observatory with panoramic views the whole way.
The shelter at the top is also a peak finder with windows framing the significant mountains.
The stairs continue to the upper viewing platform above the shelter to 360 degree views.
The brass peak finder at the top provides reference points in every direction:
Belknap Craters, Mts Washington and Jefferson and points north:
We could actually see all the way to Mt Hood today – a little white point over the shoulder of Mt Jefferson.
In 2015 we hiked to the Belknap Craters on a windy day.
Black Crater, to the east:
We have experienced sunsets, moonrises, wind and thunderstorms here, and spotted wildfires in the distance. Today, as we drove the 15 miles from Sisters, we passed through the blackened landscape from the Milli fire here last year.
Tour de Craft
Tour de France is getting exciting this week – the cobblestones, Alpine stages, and change of hands of the yellow jersey. I look forward to finishing this Welcome Blanket– just the binding to go – though our central Oregon trip has cut into my craft time.
I knit about an inch on my Cornwall sock, and added few stitches into the roof of Jane Austen’s cross stitch house.
We ate our first ripe tomatoes this week, and we have plenty of basil.