Sunday, July 22, 2007

South Sister on my birthday

Today I drove out through Bend to Devil’s lake near Mt. Bachelor to start my climb up South
Sister in the beautiful Sisters Wilderness. The weather had been cloudy and rainy all week so I was hesitant about going but it is the last free day I have for about 2 months due to the GSY-USA consulting job I have taken for the rest of the summer. I got to the mountain around 11am and started hiking up the beautiful trail. In under a mile I found myself in open meadows with wildflowers everywhere and alpine lakes all around. It was absolutely beautiful . In the distance I could see Broken Top and behind me loomed Mt. Bachelor with streaks of snow still left on it from the ski season. As I scrambled up the footing
became very loose, almost to point of sandy. It was all light weight ground up pumice left over from previous eruptions ages ago. I crossed several snow fields left over from the winter on the way up. Finally I got up to an alpine lake and followed a ridge above a glacier up to the summit bowl. It was amazing slowly climbing above the height of jagged Broken top. Looking up at the mountain you could see snow fields, glaciers, and various colored volcanic rocks from yellow to orange to dark red. When I got to the top I
was pretty tired and feeling the altitude because I had climbed to over 5,000 feet to get to
10,000 in just over 3 hours. It was beautiful out – 70 degrees, a little breezy and sunny with a few clouds. On the way up through the pulverized lava rock I could see and smell sulfur coming out small vents in the side of the mountain which along with the salts in the area had attracted millions of butterflies. They were literally crossing my path in a clouds of wings. Look closely at the picture to see them. At the top I had to walk around the
rim of the caldera to get to the true summit. The caldera was filled with snow and a small glacial lake lay in the middle of it. At the summit there were even more butterflies! The views from the summit were amazing.
Middle Sister, North Sister, Three Fingered Jack, the side of Jefferson were all to the north while Broken top, Bachelor, and Crater Lake lay off in the distance to the south. The colors of the rocks at the top were amazing. I stopped for a good hour to enjoy the views, take pictures, and scarf down the Tupperware container of leftover bbq wings from the night before (one of the best lunches I’ve had at the top of a mountain). After hanging out and
playing with some dogs that made it to the summit I climbed down to the top of the glacier where I had seen two guys go down on their butts in goretex pants earlier. I took a deep breath
thinking it was stupid and then jumped into their ass-tracks and skied down their tracks standing up keeping my balance with my ski poles. Other than falling once briefly on my butt I made it all the way down the face of the glacier standing up in my leather Asolo boots much to the amazement of several parties below who thought I was nuts and told me so J. From there I could see the valley below and
where a large lava field had sprouted
from the earth hundreds of years ago. It was an easy decent from there and before I headed home I took a couple minutes to soak my sore feet in an ice cold stream at the base of the mountain. 12 miles in 7 very wonderful, beautiful, relaxing hours on my
birthday. Definitely one of my favorite

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