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Three Sisters Wilderness Trek

August 2009


This summer at a family get-together, son-in-law Mike posed the question, "Are you going to climb the South Sister (10,363 feet elevation) again, this year?"  to which I replied, "As a matter of fact, yes, I am."  Mike said, "Well instead of climbing the South Sister again I have a suggestion for you. I've hiked all around the high lands of the North, the Middle and the South Sister. The route I take is roughly at the 5 to 7000 foot level and the change in elevation of the trails is about 5000 feet. The length of the trek depending on how many short side trips I make is 53 miles long and takes me four days. From the mountain trails through this wilderness country the scenery is spectacular. I'm planning on going again this year in September and if you want to come along with me I guarantee it will be a hike that you will remember. I can and will pack all the camping gear, water and food that will be necessary to sustain us. You can travel light. The first day of the hike will be 17 miles long and begins at the Pole Creek Trail Head near McKenzie Pass. From there the trail goes from north to south on the east side of the mountains and ends at the Devils Lake Trail Head on Century Drive to the the south of the South Sister. The second segment will be 27 miles long which will require that we overnight camp on the west side of the South Sister. The first day of this hike will be 17 miles long from the Scott Pass Trail Head to a lake on the west side of the South Sister. The second day, continuing on from this lake to the Devils Lake Trail Head, is a distance of about 10 miles. To close the loop of our hike our fourth day hike will be from the Scott Pass Trail Head and end at the Pole Creek Trail Head, a distance of about 10 miles."  It only took a few minutes for me to say, "Count me in."  I've been asked, "Why would you want to do that?"  All I can say is let these few photos from those taken of our trek speak for that." The hike was indeed awesome. I guarantee if you go you'll never ask that question.


September  2009







Adding a stone to a cairn


The North Sister- the trail beckons


Picture postcard country


It's a long winding trail up to the top


 of the Opie Dilldock Pass.  (6880 feet)


  A moment of concern set in as I peeked over the edge behind me and saw


that the trail was rough, steep, sloping ,narrow, crumbly and zigzagged

 all the way for several hundred feet to the bottom.



It's a long ways down but


nothing for it but to carefully put one foot in front of the other and keep on going.








And so to bed. I hope bears don't show up.

Wherever possible Mike made every ounce of carried weight do double duty.  

The shelter is two rain ponchos snapped together and the tent poles are two hiking sticks.


6.30 am.  Just as we had packed up and were ready to set back out on to the trail,

sounds like an enormous crashing and rolling of thunder caused us to look up at the sky 

above the mountain and discover that a huge chunk of the South Sister had sheared off

and had come crashing down into what appears to be a moraine lake.

From the dislocation a great plume of dust was created.


Hanging moss covered trees



Camp cook Mike.

This tiny stove that Mike uses to boil water to add to

dry ingredients to make very good hot meals is a winner.


Covey of blue grouse


The cliff face on the right is the end of a huge obsidian flow


Pack horse Mike



Traveling light. Some times the going gets rough


The east face of the North Sister


On the home stretch to the Pole Creek Trail Head


Pole Creek Trail Head where we began our hike and 53 miles later

 where we completed the circuit of The Three Sisters. 


From the right: The North Sister, The Middle Sister and the South Sister.

a.k.a. : Faith, Hope and Charity. All three are above 10,000 feet high.


Our route.


For making the trek around the three Sisters the pleasurable experience that it was I'm indebted to my son-in-law, Mike. Mike was organizer, guide, leader, navigator, companion, safety watchdog, doctor, nursemaid, packhorse, camping equipment and food provider, photographer, filterer of our supply of spring and lake water, GPS route tracker and when the cell phone worked, communicator to the outside world. Both Mike and his wife Heather were  providers of transportation between our homes and the beginning and ending trail heads.