Fact: at 10,358 feet, South Sister is the third tallest mountain in Oregon.
Fact: South Sister is a nontechnical hike.
Fact: everyone knows South Sister is a nontechnical hike.
Final fact (is this played out yet?): everyone climbs South Sister in July.
This was my experience this past weekend, at least. Nevertheless, this hike was a real stunner and the crowds did not detract at all from the experience.
Even this jaded Alaskan had nothing bad to say. In the background are (according to people who don't really know that much about Oregon) the other Sisters, Three Fingered Jack, Jefferson, and Hood.
Unfortunately, this also means that I'm ruined; I'm 99% certain that nothing else in Oregon can live up to South Sister, and I'm already mad about it. But hey, better to have experienced than blah blah blah, right?
Let's rewind to Friday. We didn't leave Eugene until 5:00 p.m. because of various work commitments (work commitments and responsibilities? What's that?) and, because climbing a mountain isn't adventure enough, without a campsite! We very nearly paid dearly for that mistake. Which, I'd like to add, wasn't my doing. I was all for reserving a campsite but was told that campgrounds abound in the area and there was no possibility of us not finding something. Well, I suppose that turned out to be true, but only because we slept at a horse camp.
Have you ever heard of a horse camp? I hadn't. It's just a campground with corrals at each site for (duh) horses. I'm not sure what horse camp etiquette is but apparently it's not camping without horses. According to the camp host, we were the most hated group there. Sorry, horse folk, that we didn't come equipped with loud, smelly animals [side note: I'm cool with horses but come on, they're definitely louder and smellier than no horse, right?]. The camp host was fine with it, though, no one else showed up needing the spot, and we couldn't stomach driving to yet another campground at 10:30 p.m. on a Friday night. Horse camp it was, then!
I had a pretty miserable night, puking up my Manley's clam chowder and shivering throughout the surprisingly cold night (you're welcome for that visual). Fortunately, I felt slightly better the next morning at 7:30 when we drove to the Devil's Lake trailhead.
The first mile takes you through woods, but once you emerge from that boringness, you're treated to some pretty awesome views for the rest of the hike (that's ten miles of views!).
Mt. Bachelor, or something.
Cairns, my favorite!
And, of course, the summit.
I swear to you there is no filter on this, even though it looks like there is and even though I refuse to use that hashtag that proves there isn't.
It took us roughly 4 hours to summit hiking at a pretty leisurely pace, and once there we took the time to enjoy it. This is something I often forget to do; I'll hoof it to the top, spend 3-5 minutes there, and turn right back around. This time, though, we were there for nearly an hour. There may or may not have been whiskey and cigars involved (don't try it at home, kids!).
The way down was a bit of a slog (turned death march once the blister on my foot burst open and I had nothing to put on it), but we were back at the campsite by 5:00, where we spent another fun night.
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend! I give this hike a billion thumbs up. It is, in my book, the most worthwhile thing in Oregon (that I've seen). A distinguished award, indeed!
Up next: that time I checked out the site of a fall race to see whether it might make for a good first (mini-) ultra. Verdict: ugh.