Middle Sister Attempt

I had a couple weeks off between the Eugene Marathon and starting my Silverman Triathlon training. I decided that I wanted to get up into the mountains for some climbing. Unfortunately Mother Nature did not agree with my plans. I planned the dates of my trip and my route a month or so in advance and had extra vacation days from work to use up. It was going to be a solo adventure; my wife was fine with it, my mom not so much, so I let her know afterward. =) My plan was to start off on Wednesday at the Pole Creek Trailhead outside of Sisters, Oregon. I was planning on hiking up the Green Lakes trail, and then take a side trail up to Camp Lake. Camp Lake was going to be my campsite for Wednesday and Thursday nights. Then I was going to climb the SE ridge of the Middle Sister before returning the way I came on Friday.

Wednesday was a sunny but breezy morning as I drove to the trail head. As I drove though, the South Sister was disappearing behind some clouds, an ominous sign. The trail head was nice, with ample parking, a restroom, and no snow. About 500 meters from the trailhead I hit steady snow on the trail so I put on my snowshoes. These remained on for most of the trip. The hike up to the Green Lakes trail was fairly easy to follow. People had hiked it recently and there was a bit of evidence in the snow to show the way. Every so often I would see some evidence of trail work to let me know I was going the right direction. The Green Lakes trail was a bit tougher route finding but I found my way. Eventually I arrived at Soap Creek under sunshine. Turning there I started on the side trail to Camp Lake and found it much more difficult to follow. Not long on this section I had no idea where the trail was and for added difficulty the weather arrived.  I continued on and followed my bearing up the ridge as the wind and rain grew stronger.

Can you see the mountain?

By the time I reached the tree line, the weather was so bad I could not locate any landmarks to gauge my direction to the lake. I had an idea but no certainty. At this point I decided that with the high winds and bad weather, it was better to return to a more protected camp for the night. The best spot I could think of is where the Green Lakes Trail crosses Soap Creek. There is ample water there and it is sheltered from the winds. On this trip I was excited to try out my new Nemo Morpho AR Tent. It has air poles instead of aluminum. This looked like it would be a good test of its weather proofing. Setting it up in the rain was no fun and to make matters worse, I planned on being on snow so I left the stakes at home. Oh well, there were rocks. I ended up taking a nap and reading most of the afternoon and evening. The rain first then mixed snow/rain pelted the tent. After dinner when I came out of the tent and there was a dusting of snow. I wandered around for a bit, tightened up camp, and climbed back into my tent for the night. All night the winds howled overhead and the snow fell. Waking up in the morning, I woke up to a winter wonderland in May. About 4-5 inches of snow fell overnight and it was still snowing.

The Tent is Under There Somewhere

I must say the tent was great, well thought out features and no condensation even though it is a single wall tent. I thought about going for a day hike up to the lake but looking at my tracks from the day before, it was almost impossible to see them. Any more snow would make for a route finding adventure. Nonetheless, the return trip to the car was an adventure in itself. Almost all the tracks were covered and it was very difficult to find the trail. Even to the point of walking around in several directions at points to figure out the way. Using subtle clues to where the trail was I eventually figured it out and made my way back to the trail head. A day earlier than planned but in one piece. I still would really like to do this trip again; maybe the weather will cooperate next time. Better to make a smart choice and try again another time than push a bad situation, as always your mileage may vary.


Gear Used

  • Nemo Morpho 2p Tent – Nice to have the 2 man tent for this trip. I ended up spending a bunch of time in it and it worked very well. No condensation and stood up to the rain, snow, and wind well.
  • Gregory Denali Pro 105 Pack – I wanted to bring a smaller pack but I could not get it all to fit. Since this can carry everything you would ever need I had to bring it and once it again it performed great. Just a solid pack.
  • Arc’Teryx Hercules (Hyllus) Jacket – Love this jacket, super soft and good warmth for the weight. It packs down okay but since I had the larger pack I did not need to worry about that.

About the Author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

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