Last year I said that I would NOT scramble up South Sister again given the over crowded trail (post). Well, I did it again, but I decided to add a PCT twist. Hike up South with full overnight backpack and then take on another chunk of PCT returning to Devil’s Lake trailhead. Original plan.
Part 1 – Up & down South Sister
I left home at 3:00 and arrived at Devil’s Lake around 5:45 … the parking lot was absolutely full and my dislike of crowded trails spiked! I was on the trail by 6:00 … and the ascent was, surprisingly, not crowded.
Sunrise met me above tree-line on the lower tablelands … oh my!
The next vista is looking down at Moraine Lake and up to the destination and as well outward south across the cascade spin.
The next section over the tablelands and the challenging scree scrambles was unphotographed and covered in the earlier posts (2019, 2018). At a false summit like arrival, the second glacial pond never ceases to surprise me.
The last section is not as difficult as the scree to that glacial pond, but by then even the most fit are a bit tired. This year, the wind was just howling and bitter cold. I could not even take the time to unpack my warm clothes as my fingers were stiff! Up on the ridgeline, I went counterclockwise to the top-most point and started taking pictures as fast as my cold fingers could work.
Looking north up the cascade spine
The glacier on the top was larger, deeper and more spectacular than any year previous based on my old man’s memory. And just like before, crazy people were walking across the ice …
There was also a small fire over by Diamond Peak area that was just starting to fill its plume
My only injury was a bad blister coming down caused by all the sand in my shoes and my unwillingness to empty them. That volcanic dust seeps thru my shoes even with good gaiters. Yet still, plants cling to life and thrive.
The rest of the way to Moraine Lake trail passes in a fatigue blur and then one looks back and wonders if they really did it.
That ends 10 miles of the first day, part 1 – with 9 left getting to and traveling on the PCT. Part 2 is here.