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 Post subject: Three Sisters snowshoe - James Creek shelter
 Post Posted: May 18th, 2013, 8:32 pm 
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Joined: August 6th, 2011, 12:21 pm
Posts: 12
Location: SE Portland (Hawthorne district)
Generally the snowgate at Dutchman Flat (Cascades Lakes Hwy - Century Dr) doesn't open until the end of May. But I got a press release saying it would open at Noon, Wednesday, May 8th, so I was there at 11:00AM as the road worker swung the gate open. In I drove 7 more miles to the Devils Lake Trailhead, stuffing my car into a small snow surrounded opening. After donning snowshoes, I climbed the guardrail onto 4 feet of snow and headed northwesterly toward Wickiup Plains and the PCT. After passing through small pine thickets views of the South Sister began to appear. At the three mile mark I crossed over the cascade crest going from Deschutes County to Lane County, and then onto the PCT just west of Le Conte Crater. During the entire trip I only saw one tree blaze and one PCT marker; the rest of the time I had no idea where the actual trail was. I did have a GPS and had to cheat a few times to be certain of my route.
Snowshoeing north along the PCT offered sunny blue skies and views of The House Rock, The Husband, Rock Mesa and Middle & South Sisters. The elevation along this trip ranged from 5600' to 6300' and snow depths from 3' to 6'. Never was there a sign of anyone else having been here since last fall. The trickest part was a steep downhill to Mesa Creek. After crossing the creek, the route follows the PCT another half-mile, to a junction with the old Oregon Skyline Trail (now called Linnton Meadows Trail), at this junction you turn left, leaving the PCT and within another mile (total trail distance 7.1 miles) my goal came in sight- James Creek shelter.
The old 3-sided adirondack built by the CCC in the 1930s, looks very much like the shelter at Elk Meadows-Mt Hood.
I spent two night here taking a day hike in between and gathering firewood, taking pictures, etc. Each day started beautifully, then in late afternoon came distant thunder, followed by rain and then the second night, very heavy hail. Luckily I was snug inside the shelter whenever it was wet. Soon the sun came back out and the nights were clear and dry!
Friday morning I packed up and headed back to my car; the 7.1 miles taking almost 5 hours. I'm glad I took my short MSR snowshoes, without them I would have postholed too much.
All in all, I can now check this off my bucket list. I was lucky to have generally great weather, but I'm not sure I'd be up for a mid-winter trip here.
Jerry


File comment: Summit of South Sister - west face
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File comment: Grey Jay
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File comment: Sunrise over summit of South Sister from my sleeping bag!
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File comment: James Creek shelter
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File comment: South Sister
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Last edited by OregonSurveyor on May 18th, 2013, 9:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: Three Sisters snowshoe - James Creek shelter
 Post Posted: May 18th, 2013, 8:44 pm 
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 11:03 pm
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Nice you could get up there so early in season.

I agree, a shelter is nice when the weather's bad.

Kind of caustrophobic when there's total snow because it's difficult to go anywhere.


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 Post subject: Re: Three Sisters snowshoe - James Creek shelter
 Post Posted: May 18th, 2013, 9:19 pm 
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Ahhh - now I see pictures, nice - that would be a nice place to stay for a couple nights

And I just looked where James Creek Shelter is. I've been close but not quite there - on PCT, looped below into Linton Meadows, but didn't quite get to James Creek Shelter.


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 Post subject: Re: Three Sisters snowshoe - James Creek shelter
 Post Posted: May 19th, 2013, 12:51 am 
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 11:03 pm
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What was the crossing of Mesa Creek like? Was there a good snow bridge?


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 Post subject: Re: Three Sisters snowshoe - James Creek shelter
 Post Posted: May 19th, 2013, 10:19 pm 
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Joined: June 26th, 2010, 5:28 am
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Location: Portland
Great TR. Thanks for sharing. I was down in Linnton Meadows in November.

http://www.portlandhikers.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=13735

My guess is there haven't been too many people in that area between your trip and mine. Thanks for sharing.


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 Post subject: Re: Three Sisters snowshoe - James Creek shelter
 Post Posted: May 21st, 2013, 4:52 pm 
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Joined: August 6th, 2011, 12:21 pm
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Location: SE Portland (Hawthorne district)
Hi Raven,
Mesa Creek was pretty melted out without any snowbridges in the area I examined. So I had to slide down a 4' bank, crossing the creek on a flat topped log (from the PCT) with snowshoes on, and then throw my pack up onto the far bank and claw my way up onto the 4 1/2' bank using my treking poles. Not easy!
James Creek had snow bridges and about 6' feet of snow.
All new stuff to me.
Jerry


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 Post subject: Re: Three Sisters snowshoe - James Creek shelter
 Post Posted: May 21st, 2013, 7:57 pm 
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I was a bit surprised originally that Mesa Creek had not been worth a mention. Glad to see you didn't think it was.


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