Trail around three sisters questions

Trip recommendations, current conditions, and other trail related Q&A
christabrews
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Trail around three sisters questions

Post by christabrews » July 20th, 2020, 8:32 am

I have a few questions about hiking around three sisters, specifically, this route:
three sisters map.jpg
(I have an Obsidian pass for day use during the first week of September.)

My main concerns are the route between Middle and South sister, and the water/camping availability on the east side.

So, how safe and easy to follow is the trail up to the Chambers lakes from the PCT? We're experienced and physically fit backpackers, but we are not climbers. Yes, we could go all the way around south sister, but I was hoping to avoid the crowds at Green Lakes.

Second, I see from the Pole Creek burn area map that Alder creek is within the no-camping zone, which obviously complicates things. Is the burn area camping restriction still in place? I haven't seen any posts from this year about it. My thoughts were to either gather enough water at Pole Creek and camp in the little notch that isn't part of the burn area, OR hike all the way to Alder creek, gather water, and camp as soon as we leave the burn area. Also, will water be available at all in either Alder creek or Pole creek in the first week of September? If not then this whole plan probably isn't going to work. If that's the case, we will happily use our Obsidian pass for a day hike instead, and make other plans for our week off.

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Born2BBrad
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Re: Trail around three sisters questions

Post by Born2BBrad » July 20th, 2020, 9:22 am

The route between Middle and South Sister is, for the most part, a trail. Most, if not all, of the snow will be melted by September. No climbing or handholds required. It is steep and rocky in many places.

It is highly advised to never camp in a burned area anywhere a dead standing tree can fall on your tent. Wind can pick up during the night and blow over trees. Just look at all the dead trees lying on the ground. They all got there by being blown over, or just falling over. It sounds like you know this based on your plans.

Speaking of dead trees, be prepared to step over hundreds of them that have fallen over the trail. It’s a PITA. Hiking through the Pole Creek Burn was not fun.

Pole Creek may be dry. I seem to recall it running dry in late summer. Alder Creek should have water. Soap Creek should have water too.

The loop route around South Sister is much better. Even better if you do the SS/Broken Top loop. The crowds aren’t that bad if you blast through the flip-flopper zones of Moraine Lake and Green Lakes. Dry camp to avoid crowds.
Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.
- Jean Luc Picard

christabrews
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Re: Trail around three sisters questions

Post by christabrews » July 20th, 2020, 10:08 am

Thanks for the info! I might reconsider going around South Sister. Do you know if East/West fork Park creek are reliable water sources?

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Born2BBrad
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Re: Trail around three sisters questions

Post by Born2BBrad » July 20th, 2020, 10:46 am

christabrews wrote:
July 20th, 2020, 10:08 am
Do you know if East/West fork Park creek are reliable water sources?
Yes, both are reliable sources of water. So are Whychus and Snow Creeks.

FYI, almost all the dead downed trees through the Pole Creek Burn from Three Creek Lakes to the Green Lakes Trail turnoff are cut or removed. Northward of that there are hundreds across the trail up to the Camp Lake Trail turnoff.
Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.
- Jean Luc Picard

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Trail around three sisters questions

Post by Don Nelsen » July 21st, 2020, 2:15 pm

Here is a link to a TR of a hike I did 7 years ago that folloed much of your planned route. I remember water in two or three of the creeks I crossed in the burn but that was in July, so by September, maybe not. The toughest part of the hike was the Scott Pass section of the route uphill from the Junction with the Green Lakes Trail. Good luck with that part!

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=16384&hilit=chambers

Don
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christabrews
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Re: Trail around three sisters questions

Post by christabrews » July 21st, 2020, 8:38 pm

Thanks, and good to know! Those are some great pictures you took!

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mjirving
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Re: Trail around three sisters questions

Post by mjirving » July 22nd, 2020, 5:11 am

I went around the Sisters and summited south as we went. We started at Lava Lake Camp and then went up that connector trail you mention and camped at Camp Lake. We also did a bonus hike up to the pass to the Chambers Lakes area. Then we went off-trail from Camp Lake diagonally back to the main trail just before Green Lakes. It was all pretty reasonable. If you don’t go off trail it’s a piece of cake. The off trail you just need to pay close attention to your map/compass or GPS track as it’s pretty straight forward but not a no brainer.

Mike

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retired jerry
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Re: Trail around three sisters questions

Post by retired jerry » July 25th, 2020, 12:44 pm

the trail between south and middle sisters is my favorite. more alpine, fewer people.

On the west side it goes on the south side of Separation Creek. A little hard to find where it joins the PCT. There are a few streams around for drinking.

On the east side the trail passes the north side of Camp Lake.

Even more favorite if the route from Camp Lake to the pass above Green Lake. I seem to remember a DN trip report about that a number of years ago and I have gone myself several times since. Somebody else did a trip report.

From the South end of Camp Lake, go South and you'll eventually find a trail. Go up to about 7400 feet elevation, and then traverse to the pass above Green Lake. There's a couple cliffs and steep slopes to negotiate. There's a faint trail at places. A bit adventurous.

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BurnsideBob
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Re: Trail around three sisters questions

Post by BurnsideBob » July 25th, 2020, 1:06 pm

RJ,
on your map of the Three Sisters loop you show two routes from Camp Lake to Green Lake. Are you talking the lower or upper one in your post?

BurnsideBob
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christabrews
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Re: Trail around three sisters questions

Post by christabrews » July 25th, 2020, 1:35 pm

retired jerry wrote:
July 25th, 2020, 12:44 pm
the trail between south and middle sisters is my favorite. more alpine, fewer people.

On the west side it goes on the south side of Separation Creek. A little hard to find where it joins the PCT. There are a few streams around for drinking.

On the east side the trail passes the north side of Camp Lake.

Even more favorite if the route from Camp Lake to the pass above Green Lake. I seem to remember a DN trip report about that a number of years ago and I have gone myself several times since. Somebody else did a trip report.

From the South end of Camp Lake, go South and you'll eventually find a trail. Go up to about 7400 feet elevation, and then traverse to the pass above Green Lake. There's a couple cliffs and steep slopes to negotiate. There's a faint trail at places. A bit adventurous.
I read the trip report about that trail above Green Lake. It sounds incredible, but might be a little too intense for us!

As an aside, in your experience, do you think that Alder creek is likely to have water in the first week of September? I found another trip report from a few years ago (9/3-9/5) that said that it did, which is encouraging.

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