Three Sisters Wilderness

September 3-5, 1993

The group of four backpackers left Eugene on a warm, sunny Friday evening and arrived at the Foley Ridge trailhead after dark, about 11:00 p.m. We marched up the trail aided by flash lights and head lamps. Scary stories and macabre tales abounded for two hours, making the five-mile trip to Substitute Point pass rapidly. Although the group thought a night sleeping on the summit would be a unique activity, we were not alone; other campers on the top were awakened as we reached the summit at 1:30 a.m. A cool wind with a cloudless sky made for a cold night, but afforded a fantastic light show to the east at daybreak with the Three Sisters providing a dramatic stage.

Later, after limited additional sleep, we explored the interesting volcanic vents just off the summit rocks and surveyed the waste deposited during and since the presence of a fire lookout — including one screen door, an unexpected addition to a wilderness experience. The group then hiked back to the Foley Ridge Trail and then southward on Honey Lake Trail to Buck Meadows where we enjoyed a cooked breakfast. The party then traveled to Honey Lake, passing numerous ponds and small lakes and made camp south west of the main lake and near the top edge of the north canyon wall of Separation Creek. After establishing camp, two of the group hiked cross-country to Separation Creek Meadows where we rested in the presence of Middle Sister, seemingly a giant from this perspective. After a lengthy rest and soaking of tired feet in ice cold water, we watched the Cartrights gallop through the meadow on horseback. Once again, we headed off cross-country to James Creek Shelter on the old Skyline Trail. After some exploration of the beautiful meadows and springs there, we walked down Separation Creek Trail, losing a great deal of altitude but catching some breath-taking views of alpenglow shining a golden tint on “the Sphinx” high over Mesa Creek. Sunset found us watching in awe the large waterfalls of Separation Creek just west of where the wide creek meanders through a long tree-laden meadow complete with grazing deer. This image of “Indian Holes” was that from some storybook. In near darkness, we made good time over a ridge, passing Colechuck Meadows and up a long incline to Honey Lake, where our partners had a campfire waiting for us.

After a good night’s sleep and a huge pancake breakfast, we hiked cross-country to the outcroppings overlooking Square Lake and Kidney Lake. We then descended between the two lakes and down a steep forested slope to Buck Meadows which turned out to be much longer and expansive than we had previously imagined. The trip continued to be warm, sunny and uneventful as we traveled northward once again to Foley Ridge and westward to the trailhead. This ideal trip to the Three Sisters Wilderness was enjoyed by Obsidians Don Orton and Ken Ball (leader) and non-members David Fox and Pat Antoine.

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