Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Memorial Day Snow Camping Trip

The last several years we have gone backpacking by North Sister over Memorial Day weekend.  This year was no exception so Saturday morning we drove over to Pole Creek Trailhead and began the hike into the backcountry.  A few years ago the Pole Creek fire burned the first few miles which has greatly reduced the amount of snow we encounter early on.  However, its hard to believe that there was a trip when we skied in all the way from the car.  In recent years the standard has been to hike in all the way to the tent site, although the last mile or two will be entirely on snow.  This year we encountered the least snow ever with only the last 1/4 mile being consistently snow covered.

Can you see him?
It's a horned toad

A shooting star meadow

Broken Top and the Tam MacArthur Rim

South Sister
 Sunday we headed out from our tent and starting climbing up toward Middle Sister.  There is a long snow slope leading all the way up to the saddle between Middle Sister and Prouty Point and we slowly made out way up it.  I took a few breaks on the climb to get in some downhill skiing, but other than that we pretty much spent the morning slowly climbing toward Middle Sister.  Once we reached the saddle we took a break and ate some lunch.  The weather was good and there were already steps kick in the steep section on Middle Sister so we decided to go for the top.  The climb turned out to be pretty easy this year as the snow was fairly soft and there were no dangerous icy sections.  The view from the summit was terrific as we were able to see Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helen's to the North and Diamond Peak, Mt. Bailey, and Mt. Thielson to the south.  After descending Middle Sister we got to enjoy the long downhill back to the tent.  The snow was terrific which made the downhill skiing lots of fun.
Looking out over Eastern Oregon

South Sister and Broken Top with Mt. Bachelor tucked away between them

South Sister and Middle Sister

North Sister looming above

Jacob climbing up toward Middle Sister

Some debris that slid off the mountain

North Sister


Broken Top, Mt. Bachelor, and South Sister

Middle Sister and Prouty Point


Looking back down the snowfield - a whole lot more exposed rock this year

Mom Dad and Jacob climbing up

A crevasse below Middle Sister

Prouty Point

Middle Sister with South Sister behind

Broken Top, Bachelor, and South Sister

Three Finger Jack on the horizon

Looking out over Eastern Oregon

Jacob with North Sister behind him

You can see Cascade Lakes highway is snow free from here - we check when we got home and it was open.  Typically it is not open when we do our Memorial Day trip

Middle Sister

I take the same shot of Prouty Point every year

Looking up Middle Sister

No snow in the Cascade Range

The Cascade Range is clear to the north as well

Middle Sister

A cool band of clouds

The Cascade volcanoes all lined up

You can't see Mom, Dad, or Jacob on the steep pitch but they are there

Climbing up Middle Sister

The view from on top

Lots of lakes above the snow this year

The Husband

Dad, Mom, and Jacob on top

Looking back down to the saddle of Middle Sister

The down climb is just as slow as going up


Afternoon clouds blowing over Middle Sister
 Monday we packed up the tent then skied up toward North Sister.  The snow slope is quite a bit shorter than the one we climbed the day before, so we soon reached bare ground on one of the main ridges of North Sister.  We climbed a little ways up the ridge before stopping to have a snack and enjoy the view.  After a short scramble back down the skis, we got in one last descent back down to the campsite.  Once we were back down, we grabbed our packs and headed out.  Typically we can see for a while before strapping the skis onto our packs and tromping out.  This year only Jacob and I tried to ski from the tent site and we made it about a half mile.  Then we put the skis on our pack and began the walk out.
South Sister and Middle Sister on a crystal clear morning

North Sister

How'd the snow get back in there?

A nice blue pool at the foot of North Sister

South Sister and Middle Sister

Jacob with North Sister behind

On the way out we may have missed the trail, so we followed the creek until we were back on track.


After getting to the car we loaded up all the stuff and began the drive home.  We made a quick stop at Clear Lake to and early eat dinner by a campfire, then jumped back in the car and finished the drive.  As always, the Memorial Day trip was beautiful and fun.  Its what being in the mountains is all about.