Sisters hiking interlude…

June 28 to July 1, 2020 –

We escaped to Sisters, Oregon, about a three hour drive from home, for a few days of hiking. Our motel room was self contained, we brought all of our own food, and chose uncrowded trails during the week to satisfy pandemic safety concerns for ourselves and others. The trip was successful! It was wonderful to get out of our neighborhood and into the mountains we love so dearly, to see so many wildflowers and mountain views, and to hike both new and familiar trails.

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Cone Peak Meadows June 29, 2020

Famous for wildflowers! We hiked in the fog most of the day – few views, lots of flowers, including some new to me. We didn’t go up to the Iron Mountain Lookout because of the fog, but did hike the entire loop for the first time. (Hike #48, 6.6 mile, 1300 feet)


Trail map


Rocky outcrops above the forest slopes were covered with blooming larkspur, Oregon sunshine and blue gillia.


Lower Cone Peak meadows in the fog.


Lunch view.


Fog rising, Cone Peak almost visible.


Upper Cone Peak Meadows – death camus, larkspur, paintbrush and more.


Crossing the upper meadows.


Forested section just north of Iron Mountain.


Foggy glimpse of Iron Mountain, which we decided not to climb.

Prolific wildflowers in the meadows and forests!

Tam McArthur Rim, June 30, 2020

A favorite hike, often very crowded, was pleasantly unpeopled today. Also, not as windy as expected, and the views of the Three Sisters and Broken Top were stunning from our endpoint – the 7950′ red cinder ridge that leads to Broken Top. We lost the trail briefly in some of the snow patches, but the wide open volcanic landscape made it hard to actually get lost.  Hike #49, 8 miles, 1500 feet.


Ascending above Three Creeks Lake. That sharp prow on the left  is the overlook.


Enjoying our lunch view of Broken Top and the Three Sisters from the overlook, while not feeding the chipmunk.


All the chipmunk got were some close up photos.


Three Creek Lakes from the overlook.


We hiked on across the high plateau to the ridge, crossing a few snow patches along the way.


View from the saddle of the red cinder ridge.


Our endpoint – the top of the red cinder ridge. Broken Hand and Broken top seem just a few steps further…


Broken Top and South Sister.


Three Sisters


Middle and North Sisters, and the clouds sitting on the Cascade peaks to the north.


Our trail across the high plateau, back to the lookout.


We stopped again at the lookout before heading down.


Western pasque flowers and heather near the lookout.

McKenzie Pass and Clear Lake, July 1, 2020

We drove up to the Dee Wright Observatory at McKenzie Pass, one of my favorite places on the planet, to look at the volcanic landscape and hope for some views. The clouds wafted away from some of the peaks briefly, though the bitter wind was not hospitable to hanging around.


Black Crater from the observatory.


The Belknap Craters


North and Middle Sisters appeared briefly.

We also stopped at Clear Lake, hoping to see the submerged fossil forest under the turquoise clear waters we have heard so much about. We could not see it from the trail. We did find the Great Spring, from which the McKenzie River is born, and a few new flower sightings. We will have to come back and rent a boat to see the underwater forest. (Hike #50, 5 miles, 200 feet).


Turquoise blue Clear Lake from the trail


The ripples near the bank are where the water emerges as a spring from under the lava flows.


Another view of the Great Spring.


My first time seeing candystick, one of the more unusual flowers in the western Cascades forests.






Pink pyrola


I brought my latest traveling socks on the trip, and they are finished!


Hermione’s Everyday Socks, pattern by Erica Lueder, made from Red Heart – Heart and Sole yarn in the Bayou colorway.

Everything that is happening right now-

I keep hearing this expression on the airwaves, to describe the intersection of pandemic, political chaos and antiracist activism. I have been reading the book Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad, journaling about the prompts, and discussing the ideas with my family. I feel not exactly guilty, but impatient, with myself and the world for having accepted a racist society as status quo for so long.

Late Summer Adventures, Part 2 – Crater Lake and the Obsidian Trail (18-39)

Crater Lake 9/12/2018

We left Boardman to drive to Sisters, Oregon for another few days of hiking. The webcams at Crater Lake National Park showed the smoke haze had mostly lifted, so we added a side trip to see Crater Lake.

We had been to Crater Lake about 20 years ago, but our visit that summer was early in the season and there was too much snow to do much more than admire the view from the one small area that was accessible. It has been a goal to return and hike down to the lake, take the boat to Wizard Island, and hike to the many viewpoints around the lake. We were foiled again this year by the extremely bad air quality that was present during the time we had planned, but at least we got to see the views on a nearly clear day and admire the absolutely blue water.


Discovery Point – first view of the lake and a sign showing what Mt Mazama looked like before the eruption and collapse that created Crater Lake.


Close view of Llao Rock; Mt Thielson in the distance.


Wizard Island


South view to Garfield Peak


Wizard Island and Mt Scott beyond


Crater at the top of Wizard Island


The tropical blue water in the shallows around Wizard Island

Obsidian Trail 9/13/2018

We have stayed in Sisters, Oregon several times, but have yet to explore all of the trails in the area. This was our first time to hike in the Obsidian Area of the Three Sisters Wilderness (#50) (12 miles, 2000 feet).

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The first few miles are through forest, including part of the 2017 Milli Fire burn zone.


Obsidian trail


Bear Grass and huckleberry foliage


Sims Butte through the Milli burn zone

At about 3.5 miles, the trail ascends over and through a lava flow, with views to the Obsidian Cliff and to North and Middle Sisters – though today the Sisters were hiding in clouds.


Trail up the lava flow


Obsidian Cliff with burned forest above


Trail through the flow


White Branch Creek on the other side

The trail continues up through forest, meadows and past interesting rock formations.


Middle Sister in the clouds



Late summer pasque flower meadow with Obsidian Cliffs beyond

Next we reached Obsidian Falls.


Beyond the falls is a high basin with a spring and a pond between a craggy cliff and an Obsidian flow.



A bubbling spring at the base of the cliff


Another spring


A pond


Dan photographing the Obsidian flow


Obsidian flow


Closer view of the obsidian




conchoidal fracture

Over the dividing ridge is another pond.


We continued around the loop to cloud obscured views of North and Middle Sister, a good view of the Little Brother, and a view down to Glacier Creek.


The Little Brother


Glacier Creek, cloud obscured Sisters


The Little Brother

The trail descends to Sunshine Meadow along White Branch Creek.


Mt Washington and the Belknap Craters from the trail


Huckleberry lined path to Sunshine Meadow


The last magenta paintbrush in Sunshine Meadow


and an obscured view of the Sisters

We continued down the Glacial Way, back over the lava flow


Lava flow ahead


Clearest view of the day of Middle and North Sisters


Fall colors


Collier Cone – a future destination.

and back through the burn zone to the trailhead,


which, after twelve miles for the day, I was very glad to see.

Sparse but welcome wildflowers today:


Dee Wright Observatory

We had to drive over Makenzie Pass to return to the town of Sisters at the end of the day, so we stopped for a quick overview:


Dee Wright Observatory


Belknap Craters and Mt Washington to the north.


Cloud covered North and Middle Sisters to the south.

Cascade Lakes Weekend & ‘Tour de Craft’/Week 2 (18-30)

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.

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A weekend of GPS tracks.

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.



South Sister; true summit behind Hodge Crest.

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.


Broken Top beyond the southernmost Green Lake


South Sister


Just the top of Middle Sister on the right skyline

We rested in the shade for a while, first with a view of Broken Top,


Lunch view of Broken Top


Zooming in…

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.


South Sister


Zooming in


Zooming in more


Artsy view with tree roots

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.


Floating pumice in Green Lake, Broken Top beyond.


Floating pumice rock

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.


2015 – My view from my turnaround point, 1000 feet below the summit of South Sister


2015 – Lewis Glacier on South Sister and view to Green Lakes basin below Broken Top


2015- Zoomed in view to Green Lakes, where we hiked yesterday.

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:


Brian and Dan on the top of South Sister, 7/20/2018. Middle and North Sisters to the immediate north. Beyond are several Cascade Peaks: Mts Washington, Jefferson, Hood and Adams

Todd and Sparks Lakes 7/21/2018  (Hike#43)  

Today we took two leisurely flat hikes, for a total of 3.5 miles.

Todd Lake

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.



Broken Top across Todd Lake

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.


South Sister and Broken Top from Sparks Lake


Dan, South Sister


Broken Top


The flowers:


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.


Dee Wright Observatory (2016 photo)



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.


2016 photo


North and Middle Sisters


Northward view

The shelter at the top is also a peak finder with windows framing the significant mountains.


Window framing North Sister (September 2016)


Historical plaque inside the shelter

The stairs continue to the upper viewing platform above the shelter to 360 degree views.


2016 photo

The brass peak finder at the top provides reference points in every direction:


North and Middle Sisters


Closer view

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.


Belknap Craters


Closer view of the where the trail goes through the lava field.

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.


Black Crater 2018, with blackened forest on the flanks.


Black Crater, September 2016, at sunset – note the shadow of the observatory in the foreground, and the green trees on the slopes in the background.

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.


Ripe tomatoes


Cucumber flowers but no fruit



First Rudbeckia bloom!