Joined: 16 Jul 2020
Posts: 235 | TRs | Pics
I recently did a quick overnighter on the Obsidian Loop in the Three Sisters Wilderness. Within the trailheads covered by the Central Cascades Wilderness Permits this is one of the most difficult ones to get permits for, and I happened upon a cancellation earlier in the week and decided to change my plans to make this trip happen. This was a quick trip so I'll keep this report brief:
The hike up was cloudy and there were sadly no views of the Sisters. I made camp just before Arrowhead Lake, and as luck would have it the clouds parted for mere minutes towards the very end of sunset. A couple of climbers were camped near the lake who were planning on climbing North Sister the next day - I hope their ascent was successful!
The clouds were taunting me, because after sunset all of a sudden it became perfectly clear. I rolled up the flap on my tent up so that I could see the stars while I slept, and since I woke up many times during the night I could tell it got cloudier throughout the night because stars were present or missing from different splotches of sky.
When I woke up it was not just cloudy but completely foggy. Ignorance is bliss, and it wasn't super blissful that I had enough cell service to check the Mount Bachelor webcams and see that there was a beautiful inversion going on higher up that I was maybe 1-2K feet below . For a while I couldn't see more than 500 feet in front of me, but as the hours of the morning wore on the clouds started to fade and finally lifted. It was very pretty watching the fog break up and lift.
After lingering for a while, I packed up and finished the rest of the loop.
Funny story: as I got to a beautiful overlook on the hike out (the 4th picture below) I ran into a group of three hikers who gave me a "shhh" (please be quiet) kind of motion...they were looking intently at the scene before us and thought they were looking at a wolf. Instead they were looking at a camper's dog (who I had run into earlier) who was just running free/off-leash around the meadows and was taking a drink from the stream. I gave them the bad news that it was just a large dog and not a wolf .
Neat waterfall on the hike up
This area has to be a geologist's dream, there were so many interesting rock deposits like the giant obsidian flow that you hike through at one point, and near the top of the loop there are beautiful shiny, black pieces of obsidian just littered about the place.
I enjoyed this short hike quite a bit. I would love to come back when I have more time and do the whole loop around North and Middle Sisters. I am very keen to check out the area between Middle and South Sister where there are lots of little moraine-dammed lakes. I would highly recommend the Obsidian Loop for any new backpackers, the trail is gentle, the steepness is very gradual, there are plenty of water sources and there are ample campsites. Permits are hard to get, but as a result of the permit system I saw a total of six other groups (day hikers and backpackers) in two days!
Can you spot the "wolf"?
fourteen410, contour5, rubywrangler, RichP