A recliner hike around the North and Middle Sister

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Don Nelsen
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A recliner hike around the North and Middle Sister

Post by Don Nelsen » July 25th, 2013, 7:23 pm

I needed a good recliner hike (at least a “recliner” compared to what some of my TFF’s are doing!) so decided to do a modified Three Sisters Loop. I circled the South Sister starting from the Cascades Lake Hwy from the south back in ’79 with some friends and really enjoyed it, especially the part going through the saddle between the South and the Middle Sister. This time, the plan was to circle the North and Middle Sister from McKenzie Pass. 38.6 miles and about 5,800' elevation, definitely a recliner! :lol:

Our group off-trail between Green Lakes and Chamber’s Lakes on Sept. 22, 1979: Short-shorts were in vogue back then – LOL! (I'm the one on the far left.)

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The weather promised to be hot and Monday afternoon was 95+ degrees in Bend so I stocked up with plenty of fluids and also some extra goodies should I happen to encounter Anish along the way. She is the young woman through hiking the PCT at a record breaking pace and was due in the area I was about to hike. I did not see her, though.

Monday afternoon, at least 15 of these nearly identical clouds drifted in a SW to NE line across central OR from S. to N. each one having a tenuous spritz of precipitation falling from the center and quickly evaporating:

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I left the motel in Bend at 5 am, and it was a balmy 63 degrees – definitely warm for Bend! By the time I reached Sisters, the sun was yet to rise and it had cooled to a brisk 45. The temperature steadily rose as I drove higher and by the time I reached the pass, just a few minutes past sunrise, it was 57 degrees. Nice! Interesting major temperature fluctuations as I hiked south – from about 60 on the ridges to about 40 in the depressions and even colder in a few spots where the morning air was draining off snowfields.

Here is the map of the loop:

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The elevation profile:

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I could keep an eye on my car from three miles away on this trail! There it is at the pass to the left of the camper:

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Close up:
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South Matthieu Lake at MP 3.8:

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The North Sister from the trail:

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I finally got a good view of what I was trying to circumnavigate:

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Minnie Scott Spring at MP 7.4:

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I might have done this loop faster except for the 250 photos I took! Everywhere I looked the scenes were fantastic:

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Opie Dilldock Pass: Named for an early 1900's comic strip character that always seemed to find a way out of difficult spots - this 15-switchback route through this narrow defile is the best way out of this area - no kidding!

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The obsidian area was very interesting - I had never before hiked through this area. The very bedrock is glaciated solid obsidian:

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Sister Spring about MP 11.5:

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Another view looking back at Sister Spring:

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Close-up with a couple of other hikers drawing water:

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Just 2/10 mile downstream from the spring is Sister Falls:

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The ubiquitous Indian Paintbrush:

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The Husband, off to the west:

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Now SW of the Middle Sister and looking back at its nearly perfect symmetry:

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Glaciated rock outcrop:

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Off trail now, heading up the Separation Creek drainage toward the saddle:

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And a photo from 1979 taken from close to the same location as the previous:

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The trail, 2013:

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Near the same spot, but looking in the opposite direction, 1979:

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Near the first of three passes and looking back to the west:

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At the highest pass in the saddle (there are three passes separating the lakes):

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Half-way through the journey:

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South Sister:

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Camp Lake:

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North Sister:

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I soon entered the Pole Creek burn area. The trail went in and back out of the burn area three or four times over the next ten miles so it wasn't too bad.

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What was difficult about this area is that most of the trail is in deep, course volcanic sand.

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The only difficult part of this trek was the 700' vertical climb back to the PCT! - coming as it did over 33 miles into the hike. Anyway, made it back to the TH a few minutes past sunset:

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- Don





Ok, need a break - back for more later.....
Last edited by Don Nelsen on July 26th, 2013, 8:10 am, edited 2 times in total.
"Everything works in the planning stage".

pdxgene
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Re: A recliner hike around the North and Middle Sister

Post by pdxgene » July 26th, 2013, 5:13 am

Thanx for your stroll thru the park shots :P
Matthieu Lakes has been moving quickly up my list of pending hikes. Nice to get a quick peek at them.

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Chase
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Re: A recliner hike around the North and Middle Sister

Post by Chase » July 26th, 2013, 8:30 am

Love the old shots of the same area.

Almost have my wife convinced to do part of that hike because she can't believe how much obsidian I claim there is right off the trail.

Great job, Don!

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roadtripmom
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Re: A recliner hike around the North and Middle Sister

Post by roadtripmom » July 26th, 2013, 9:02 am

Unbelievable ! I really love the new shots vs the old. Men's shorts were really short back then, hmmmm. :lol: It really is a beautiful area.
Filling my bucket, one hike at a time.
Amanda

pablo
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Re: A recliner hike around the North and Middle Sister

Post by pablo » July 26th, 2013, 3:44 pm

Ok, need a break - back for more later.....
Hey Don, lookin' forward to more. Love the old photos interspersed with the new and what a great route to take. The standard for what constitutes a 'recliner' has definitely been raised.

--Paul
The future's uncertain and the end is always near.

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Roy
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Re: A recliner hike around the North and Middle Sister

Post by Roy » July 26th, 2013, 4:23 pm

Very nice photos Don I hope you enjoyed your bivouac as much as I did mine ;) I see the running shoes and leather boots in your old shots didn't have much of a choice did we.

I guess my 10 to 15 mile hikes with 4,000 to 5,000 ft eg will have a new name -- wheel chair hikes :D
The downhill of the mind is harder than the uphill of the body. - Yuichiro Miura

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Splintercat
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Re: A recliner hike around the North and Middle Sister

Post by Splintercat » July 26th, 2013, 4:29 pm

Agreed, Paul - in this case, I was expecting "recliner" to mean the two nights he spent out there... covering 38 miles! That would be roughly my speed..! :D

Nice report, Don! Love that solitary tree on the talus slope on your then/now pair from Separation Creek -- you can see that it's a bit bigger after 30+ tough years!

Short shorts are cool... and they WILL return someday..! Oh, yeah.... :lol:

Tom :)

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Eric Peterson
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Re: A recliner hike around the North and Middle Sister

Post by Eric Peterson » July 26th, 2013, 6:03 pm

Awesome TR Don, it seems like ages since I read a new DN TR. :)

Did you just have the smallish fanny pack and reup water en route?

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Peder
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Re: A recliner hike around the North and Middle Sister

Post by Peder » July 26th, 2013, 9:26 pm

Great pictures Don and you have maintained your excellent physical condition from 1979 - that is a gigantic loop!
Some people are really fit at eighty; thankfully I still have many years to get into shape…

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Guy
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Re: A recliner hike around the North and Middle Sister

Post by Guy » July 27th, 2013, 5:33 am

What everyone else said :) ..

Excellent photos & a great loop idea Don. Though when you start calling loops like this a recliner hike then some therapy may be in order ;)
hiking log & photos.
Ad monte summa aut mors

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