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Prep for Annual Backpacking Trip 2014

Cascade Head

Cascade Head Oregon

I leave tomorrow for my annual backpacking trip. This will be five days in the Goat Rocks Wilderness Area in Washington. Going totally offline is a good thing to do. Last time I did this I remember having over 1000 emails to deal with, but life goes on without us. The backpack is ready weighing in at about 37 lbs and I am in fairly good shape having been able to do a few short mountain day climbs this last week. The Cascade Head hike offers spectacular coastal views with a very steep vertical climb. Hart’s Cove ends out on the coast in a secluded cove but it is all down hill (1000 ft vertical) to get there. When I return I will post a trip report to the Portland Hikers Website. Here is a trip report from my first backpacking trip to the Three Sisters Wilderness Area near Bend, OR.

Harts Cove Oregon

Harts Cove Oregon

Annual Backpacking Trip

This year we travel to NE Oregon to begin our annual 5 day backpacking trip. EagleCap2012 - OldBackpackersThis year I have 4 other men joining me and we will be hiking in the Eagle Cap Wilderness through the Wallowa Mountains. The trip is based on a loop but incorporated a few days for side loops.

EagleCap2012 - GregBlueLake

Blue Lake

The wilderness beauty was beyond what I expected. All five of us started from Two Pan Trailhead heading up the Minam Lake Trail, spending 2 nights at Minam Lake with a day trip over to Blue Lake. Minam lake provided swimming, fishing and serious relaxation. We were even treated to a sunset on the second evening.

Minam Lake

Three of us continued over over the 8548′ Carper pass on the Ivan Carper Trail #1661 into the Lakes Basin. The climb is challenging and mostly exposed.


EagleCap2012 - Lakes Basin

We passed by Mirror Lake and ended up camping at Moccasin Lake planning on a few nights with days hikes and more fishing. We hiked the Basin Lakes loop over by Douglas Lake and back.

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My buddies were tired but I felt like I needed to see Glacier Lake up above in front of Eagle Cap. This solo climb to Glacier Lake was the ultimate highlight for me. Here is a glimpse.

Glacier Lake - Eagle Cap

Glacier Lake – Eagle Cap

You could incorporate a loop up past Glacier Lake down to the Frazier Lakes and back around to the Lakes Basin area.

EagleCap2012 - StreamOutOfGlacierLake

Stream from Glacier Lake Heading Down to the Frazier Lakes

We ended this awesome trip by hiking out along the East Fork of Lostine Trail #1662.

East Fork of Lostine

East Fork of Lostine

No Pain No Gain


Looking West at “The Husband” peak

First I would like to thank the Oregon Hikers Organization for providing me with valuable information that helped me and friend Bob put together a great 5 day trip around/through the 3 Sisters peaks. Also this is a trip report from a couple of old guys who were mostly concerned about survival but ended up anxious for more such multi-day trips.

South Mattieu Lake

South Mattieu Lake

This trip starting and ending at the Lava Lake Trailhead, Sept. 14-18, 2011. We decided to modify the traditional 50 mile loop around the 3 Sisters with a 35 mile version that cuts through the Middle and South Sister via Camp and Chambers Lakes. The choice to go from the East over to the West was determined by believing that finding the trail would be easier once leaving Camp Lake heading west. We found that it probably did not matter, the trail was well defined all the way.  SistersBPLoop

Day one on Sept. 14 (fairly warm day) nearly did me in going 12 miles to Soap Creek. Problem, I was consuming more water than planned and we had been warned that Alder Creek was dry. I did thank God for a strong flowing Alder Creek due to the warm afternoon snow melt. But we did push our old bodies a bit. I’m a 57 year old office guy with 2 artificial hips and Bob is 64. Our packs were about 38 lbs which worked out pretty well, we did end up taking more food then was needed.


First night at Soap Creek junction of the trail to Green Lakes and Camp Lake we met backpacker Jeff, a Medical School Intern at Emory. He also started at Lava Lake and was on his last night. His friends had scared him into believing that bears were a problem so he never cooked anything at night in fear of become a victim of a bear attack. He did say he was heading to Bronco Billy’s for all the ribs he could eat and we to ended up there at the end of our trip.

After re-hydrating and a good night’s sleep day 2 took us to Camp Lake which turned out to be the easiest hiking day. Luckily we got there before a front came in which brought wind, cold and low clouds. But Camp Lake is a treat especially when it is all yours. This was our critical decision point. We need to Climb ThatWould we be able to climb over the steep wall to get out of the Camp Lake basin. The trail led us to a fairly steep ice/snow covered incline we had to climb with just hiking poles and normal boots. I am so glad we decided to do it because the reward of going down the West side along Separation Creek was exceptionally beautiful.

Husband Peak coming down Separation Creek

Husband Peak coming down Separation Creek

We ended up camping at Reese Lake just North of the trail junction with the PCT. Campsite Reese LakeA very scenic location looking up at the South Sister and the lake was warm enough to entice us into a swim. However, that 3rd night was the coldest. We woke up to plenty of frost causing our departure to be a bit delayed.

South Sister with a Scarf

South Sister with a Scarf

Our goal for day 4 was to get beyond the Obsidian area hopefully to beyond Opie Dilldock Pass.

Obsidian Falls

Obsidian Falls

With a late start and late afternoon high cold winds we stopped at Sawyer Bar. The winds were strong and the outlook for comfort bleak, but all this changed by morning to give us balmy temperatures to get an early start.


Actually climbing over Opie Dilldock was more work then we expected, but we saved some energy for a climb to the top of Yapoah Crater.

Wild FlowersOverall this 5 day 35 mile loop turned out to be a fabulous trip. No rain, plenty of water, awesome mountain scenery and wild flowers at their finest. I highly recommend this Sisters cut through but realize that the window of opportunity is fairly short when snow does not clear until late summer.


Trail back to Lava Lake Trailhead through Lava Field

Trail back to Lava Lake Trailhead through Lava Field

My words of wisdom are to set your goal, be persistent with commitment. Be flexible when trying to include others who may not have the same commitment. Do diligence in preparation will  pay off. And don’t underestimate what the human body can accomplish especially when survival depends upon it. Or maybe just “No Pain, No Gain“. And be confident that your next adventure will be that much better but no less difficult. Live long and be healthy.

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