The other day I rode the Portland Aerial Tram. Even though it has been a feature of the city skyline since January 29, 2008, it was the first time I had taken the ride to the Oregon Health & Science University in the hills above Portland.
According to the publicity for the Tram, the cabins “travel 3,300 linear feet from South Waterfront to Marquam Hill. Traveling at 22 miles per hour, the Tram cabins rise 500 feet during the four-minute trip. Each of the two cabins have a capacity of 79 people, including the operator. The Tram operates load-n-go. If you miss one, expect another in just a few minutes.”
I started at the bottom at the Willamette River where all the machinery was built to take me up and up away. For hikers it is a part of the 4T trail, which I was doing that day. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.) But wait, there’s more!
Lately, I have posted a number of pictures of the mountains that dominate north central Oregon. I have often mentioned the Three Sisters in the Three Sisters Wilderness area.
Several times I have hiked around them, or I have hiked into the lakes that rest at their bases, such as the Green Lakes and Sisters Mirror Lake.
What has not been mentioned is the hike (climb) to the top of South Sister. To climb North Sister is difficult and requires mountain climbing experience. Middle Sister is less difficult but requires careful planning. South Sister is a hike rather than a climb; one hikes a trail to the top.
I have hiked to the summit of South Sisters on two different occasions. The second time, I spent the night, enduring winds and freezing temperatures.
South Sister is the third highest peak in Oregon at 10358 ft (3157 m), but it requires little climbing experience. It is rated at worst a class 3. No gear is needed except for good shoes and lots of determination.
Here we have the view from the summit of South Sister looking toward Mount Bachelor. On the ridge to the right of the small lake is the trail to the top. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.) But wait, there’s more!
In Central Oregon are several mountains that dominate the horizon to the southwest as one drives southeast from Portland on Highway 97. Mount Hood, Mount Washington, Mount Jefferson, Three-Fingered Jack, and then the sisters Three Sisters and then Broken Top and Mount Bachelor further along.
One of the more exciting trails to hike in Oregon is the Timberline Trail which circles Mount Hood. It is approximately 40 miles. Another trail, not as well known but about the same distance, is the one that goes around the Three Sisters. Like the Timberline Trail it includes a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Even less known than these two routes is the trail through the saddle between Middle Sister and South Sister.
It can be very difficult to find if one approaches from the south. No signs exists and relying on rock cairns is not wise. A map, compass, and a GPS device is recommended. After leaving the Pacific Crest Trail toward the divide between the Middle and South Sisters, one can often find the trail or simply continue cross country through the divide between the two peaks.
The alternative route would be to hike to the Chambers Lakes in the Three Sisters Wilderness area. Afterward one continues into the saddle between Middle and South Sisters.
The preceding pictures show the terrain in the saddle between South and Middle Sisters. One looks forward to the saddle and the other looks back. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.) But wait, there’s more!
“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.” ―Ansel Adams
Lately I have been revisiting, re-exploring my neighborhood. I take my camera with me. I became so accustomed to my surroundings, I had looked elsewhere for fun and inspiration.
My life seemed ordinary, pleasant. I had visited and revisited the back country within easy driving distance from home. But I wanted to escape my routines, even though from far away my friends and relatives looked on my adventures into the wild as exceptional.
I had simply become too habituated to it. I could not imagine that Oregon might be somewhere I would miss. I felt more tormented with the possibility of exploring those remote countries.
Before I returned to Mt. Bachelor, I had traveled in Europe several times and visited India and spent five weeks walking the chemin of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle and hiked the John Muir Trail, which included climbing Mt. Whitney a couple of times.
Recently, I went back to Mt. Bachelor and paid some money so I could ride the chair lift to the top, or near to the top. I did not climb nor walk up. I did it the easy way.
But wait, there’s more!