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 Post subject: South Sister Summit Sunrise Solitude, 5/6-July-2013
 Post Posted: July 9th, 2013, 12:47 am 
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Joined: June 21st, 2012, 10:55 am
Posts: 3775
Location: Salmon Creek
Last summer, I was totally inspired by potato's rad report on summiting South Sister for the sunrise. A few weeks ago I sent that link to Peder, and wondered what he thought about the logistics. Wham! Nearly right away, he had it all laid out, and pretty much just said, "pick a clear night, and lemme know!" Well, we wanted to go during the full moon a couple weeks ago. Didn't happen. Heh, ended up doing it on a new moon, instead! Ah well... :D

We met in Sandy at a bit past 6pm last Friday, and drove almost straight to the trailhead, stopping only for a quickie fill-up and again at a weigh station with a killer view of the Sisters to eat a sandwich. By 9:30, we were closing in on Mount Bachelor ski area, and shortly after 10pm we were on the trail! I'm not sure how this happened, but we ended up waaaaay ahead of our game, and had to intentionally slow down to a sluggardly pace that was just fast enough to stay warm, in order not to get to the top with hours to spare! This had the unanticipated consequence of meaning we didn't even break a sweat.

Still, we ended up cresting the crater rim at 3:50am, which was about 1.5 hours from sunrise. It wasn't long before the light show began, though! And boy, what a show it was... 8-)

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4:56am Nearly 30 minutes before sunrise. L-to-R volcanoes: Middle, TFJ, MSH, Jeff, North, Rainier, Hood, Adams!


Back to the trailhead. The Devil's Lake parking area is huge. And extremely easy to get to, other than the long drive. Once there, we just hung the NW Forest Pass, did the final equipment check, and hit the trail. Which is marked extremely well, despite some websites warning about getting off on the wrong one.

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9:30pm Our quest in sight, the day nearly gone, we're about to pass Mount Bachelor and nearly to the TH.


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10:10pm Clearly, far too excited to take the traditional trailhead shot!


The first 1.5 miles, or so, climb quickly through a forest and emerge onto a relatively flat ash-covered plain that goes for another couple miles before climbing begins again. The temps were in the mid-40s at this point, and the goin' was easy. We crossed occasional snowfields, but seemed to have no trouble staying on the trail, admittedly with the help of a track I scrounged off the interweb.

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10:50pm We'd pass through pockets of warmer or cooler air, sort of like swimming in a public pool. The hood felt good at times. (photo: Peder)


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11:35pm We pass a four-way junction near Moraine Lake. Might've awoken someone here? Saw a light later, looking back.


We did hit one patch of fairly steep, very compact, very frozen snow at a bit over 8000'. I put on my spikes and had full confidence. Peder managed, very well, getting through that stretch. From there, it was rock the rest of the way. Mostly unconsolidated. Not being in a hurry, it was simply a matter of perseverance, now. One step after another.

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1:15am We're now following a ridgeline, through the 8300' level, that appears to stretch to the summit.


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Not too many flowers out. These were at 8600'. (photo: Peder)


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2:04am Above 9000' now... Peder's admiring the gargantuan cairn guiding our way.


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3:25am We crack through the 10,000' level. It's still very dark.


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3:52am We crest the crater rim! The summit is in sight a quarter-mile away on the far side of the crater.


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First time I've ever pushed my GPS over 10,000' feet! Woohoo!


As we crested the crater rim, I thought I was seeing the lights of Portland on the far side. But no! It was actually what's apparently called "astro twilight," which precedes "nautical twilight," and basically means the sun is still very far away. Things lit up pretty quick, though!

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4:07am First real hints of twilight. The lights of Redmond and Bend visible in the foreground.


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4:10am Jeff, Hood, and Adams become prominent. We see a sno-cat grooming near Timberline, and Rainier popping up between Jeff and Hood!


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4:23am The tiniest sliver possible of the moon finally rises near where the sun is about to come up.


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5:02am The entire wilderness area surrounding us is now fully visible. What a sight it is! (photo: Peder)


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5:11am Mesmerizing...


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Stopping back produces almost too much color. Naw... Not really.


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5:23am Finally! Sunrise!


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This is probably how I looked for nearly the next hour! (photo: Peder)


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And with scenery like this...! Quickie pano...


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Standard wide...


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Zoomed in a bit...


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Peder was knocking 'em outta the park, too! (photo: Peder)


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Then, he suffered the mixed blessing of having his camera act up, which totally freed him to just soak it all in.


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The shadow of the mountain was stretching for miles across the landscape. (Photosynth)


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The color of the lighting was changing rapidly. How many ways could it be captured?


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5:34am Kinda crummy cellphone shot, taken specifically to email from the summit. Heh...


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Middle Sister, 10047 feet.


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North Sister, 10085 feet. Jefferson and Hood in background.


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20 minutes after sunrise, the shadow is at its best.


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With the stunning line-up of volcanoes to the north, I almost forget to swing over and look at Broken Top right to our east.


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Broken Top, 9175 feet.


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Really amazing red volcanic plug rising on the eastern flank of South Sister.


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Peder basking in the morning glow, and breaking out a little breakfast.


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Three Fingered Jack, 7844 feet. Mount Saint Helens in distance.


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Little icebergs floating around in Carver Lake, far below us.


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Looking south across crater. Mt Scott, Mt Thielsen, Mt McLaughlin, and Diamond Peak most prominent.


About an hour or so after sunrise, more than 2.5 hours after summiting, we decide to put the packs back on and finish our circumnavigation of the crater. Figuring out where Teardrop Lake might form in the summer is more difficult than it ought to be. Doesn't seem to be any perfectly flat frozen lake at all up here! Rather, the crater floor undulates across it's diameter, with a ridge running across it near the midpoint. It's extremely enjoyable wandering around!

Did I happen to mention that we were the only people up here? We had the summit totally to ourselves. On the way down, Peder would count no fewer than 117 people crossing our path! But while we were on top, it was just us -- probably the highest people in Oregon at that time!

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Looking out again over our perch at the incredible view it offered us!


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The circle tour of the crater continues. (photo: Peder)


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Cool notch in the crater rim.


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The Husband, 7524', seen though crater rim notch.


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Magnificent floor of South Sister crater.


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As a former Minnesotan, all I can say is, that don't look like no frozen lake that I've ever seen!


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Peder climbing to the sky!


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It looks huge, but it really didn't take very long to walk from one side to another, or around the rim.


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Very near the spot where we'd drop back over the edge, there was a tent-sized wind break set up.


On descent, we finally got to see everything we'd hiked past on the way up! The hard part was remembering to keep looking behind us, as we went.

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One amazing feature was this cow-pie shaped lava flow that was nearly 2miles across!


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We could see Moraine Lake far below us.


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Zoomed out to show Mount Bachelor, Sparks Lake, and Moraine Lake.


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Immediately below us, at the base of the Lewis Glacier, was the tantalizing Lewis Tarn.


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7:48am The first of 117 people we'd cross paths with on the way down. It was kinda fun seeing our path, and just how rubble-strewn it was!


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Lewis Glacier had a very prominent crevasse (bergshrund?) up fairly high.


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Another feature I highly enjoyed, far below us, was this little lava dome just extruding right out of the ground.


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Looking back up at the Lewis Glacier.


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Zooming on Mt Scott and Mt Thielsen. I believe that bump in between may be Llao Rock???


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Helpful boulders marked our trail down.


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Lewis Tarn


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Cool little fuzzy plant growing at about 9000'.


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Lewis Tarn and South Sister.


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Unknown wildflowers #4451


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Here the trail changed from rubble to more shale-like flatrocks.


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Unknown wildflowers #4455


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Mount Bachelor


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Broken Top, rising high above a massive obsidian flow.


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Literally, a two-lane heading to the summit!


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We wave at Moraine Lake as we pass by. We'd thought about dropping down for lunch, but just pressed on.


And that was pretty much that! Another mile and a half, and we were back at Peder's car. It was a loooong drive home! I tried to help, but was very out of it at this point. Coffee and coke helped a bit, but man, this turned out to be a 23-hour "day" hike, when all was said and done. Worth it? Youbetcherass it was! :D

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Click for a full-sized map.


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Three big dips in temp were when pack was sitting on the (frozen) ground.



Final stats: about 12.25 miles and 5150' EG. (http://gpsfly.org/a/2593)


This is a hike anyone with the stamina to undertake it ought to do sometime! We said repeatedly, though, how glad we were not to be climbing it in the full-on glare of the sun. That would've made a really fun hike into something much more brutal. Not to mention, we enjoyed total solitude on top! Maybe one other person, the first guy up after us, was able to say that this same day.

What a wonderful day on the volcano! :D

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 Post subject: Re: South Sister Summit Sunrise Solitude, 5/6-July-2013
 Post Posted: July 9th, 2013, 12:58 am 
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Joined: August 6th, 2009, 8:33 pm
Posts: 3441
Location: Hillsboro
Ha! Way to nail that one guys. Your plan was perfect! Arriving at the summit near sunrise, and missing the heat of mid-day exposure. Well done. That hike has been on my list of 'some day I'll do it' hikes since 2010 when I got my knee fixed up.

What views!

I've always thought of this hike as being one of those super-human highway hikes (which is mostly what my Three Sisters area hikes have been like) but your nighttime trek gave you some solitude, which is very appealing to me.

Oh I've gotta talk some people into doing this one sometime this year. :)

(why am I still awake at 1:00am - I have to get up in five hours LOL)

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If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. -Bruce Lee


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 Post subject: Re: South Sister Summit Sunrise Solitude, 5/6-July-2013
 Post Posted: July 9th, 2013, 1:09 am 
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Joined: June 18th, 2008, 7:49 am
Posts: 865
Glorious! Such beautiful pictures.

You guys have great trips, can I join you sometime?


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 Post subject: Re: South Sister Summit Sunrise Solitude, 5/6-July-2013
 Post Posted: July 9th, 2013, 6:22 am 
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 11:03 pm
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Nice!

Now, gotta camp over night on top at that flat area


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 Post subject: Re: South Sister Summit Sunrise Solitude, 5/6-July-2013
 Post Posted: July 9th, 2013, 8:00 am 
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Joined: May 11th, 2009, 6:39 am
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Location: Oregon
Better to be early than late for this sort of thing!

Nice job and pictures guys :)


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 Post subject: Re: South Sister Summit Sunrise Solitude, 5/6-July-2013
 Post Posted: July 9th, 2013, 8:34 am 
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Joined: December 28th, 2008, 1:53 pm
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Location: Portland
Aaargh. You guys are making me want to sneak out of work and Climb. Right. NOW.

SO well done! I especially love how at night you could see all of the other night folks for a hundred miles - from the sno cat on Hood to the headlamp down on the ridge. And that moon!

I'm savoring this and I wasn't even *there*. Hope you guys will be basking for a long while! Or at least, until the next awesome thing.

-payslee

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 Post subject: Re: South Sister Summit Sunrise Solitude, 5/6-July-2013
 Post Posted: July 9th, 2013, 8:37 am 
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Joined: June 6th, 2009, 6:20 pm
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Just lovely! Thank you for sharing your incredible moment. My first climb up South Sister in 1998 was similar, though I started closer to 1AM and didn't quite make sunrise. But it was still spectacular and I was the only one there to enjoy it - except for a crow that was hanging around on top. Well done!

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 Post subject: Re: South Sister Summit Sunrise Solitude, 5/6-July-2013
 Post Posted: July 9th, 2013, 8:58 am 
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Joined: May 18th, 2009, 4:17 pm
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Location: NE Portland
Very well documented in your usual style, Karl. ;) Your sunrise pictures are really great. I wish we'd made it to the top for sunrise when we did it last year!

Do I see Peder wearing a vintage 30 year old down jacket??

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 Post subject: Re: South Sister Summit Sunrise Solitude, 5/6-July-2013
 Post Posted: July 9th, 2013, 9:28 am 
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 11:02 pm
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Location: Lake Oswego
Bosterson wrote:
Do I see Peder wearing a vintage 30 year old down jacket??

Yes! What did you expect?
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My father wearing the same jacket on his 50th birthday in 1983. The hole in the background is "Trou de la Mouche" (8,000'), a classic ski loop goes up to the hole from this side and then you ski down the other side.

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Mt Blanc (15,770')

Regarding our timing - Everything was calculated down to the last minute for an arrival on the summit at around 5. We had included one hour for contingency. Naturally, a brain fart did mess up our timing: The timing calculations were from home, but we left at the planned time (6.00 pm) from Sandy, not home, thereby immediately being 45 minutes ahead of schedule! :?

It is a great hike and the crater rim loop is warmly recommended.

Finally, the great letdown of the trip: We were hoping to take lots of beargrass pictures by night, to supplement the daytime beargrass pictures featuring on PH. Sadly, we did not find a single beargrass to photograph. :(

And a freebie for Nat:
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Leather boots and all kinds of other vintage gear!

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 Post subject: Re: South Sister Summit Sunrise Solitude, 5/6-July-2013
 Post Posted: July 9th, 2013, 9:44 am 
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Joined: June 21st, 2012, 10:55 am
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Location: Salmon Creek
Thanks for all the kind words, folks! :)

One thing I forgot to add to the TR, was the nearly identical conversation we had with each and every group we passed on the way down...

    "Did you guys already make it to the top?!?" :o
    "Of course!"
    "When did you start?" :?
    "About 10!"
    "Last night???" :shock:
    "Yep!"
    "So you camped up there?" :)
    "Nope, just went up to see the sunrise."
    "Whooooaaaaa...! Right on!" :D

Anyway, now my vintage down jacket (liner actually), c1987, feels positively newage. :cry: :lol:

(cfm, of course!)

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