Three Fingered Jack Area

March 17, 2002

This was to be a ski trip through an area many call “the Bermuda Triangle”, north of Santiam Pass surrounding the old Skyline trail. Our plan was to follow this trail to its junction with the trail leading from the “Rock Pile” to Berley Lakes and then go cross country to the Cascade Crest and the PCT South of Three Fingered Jack. Two of us in previous weeks had attempted to demystify the “Triangle” by crisscrossing it on snowshoes. (Since one of us couldn’t ski because of a torn rotator cuff, this area seemed like a good place to try snowshoeing and indeed it was.) However, on March 17 it became clear that the attempt hadn’t been entirely successful. That morning six of us met at the Santiam SnoPark, five from Eugene and one from Corvallis. The night before it had snowed about eighteen inches of fairly light stuff which covered everything, making the supposedly familiar look strange. As we headed north, possibly on the trail, the leader who, was under the weather with a queasy stomach, wondered if we would make it even to 7 Minute lake, just over the wilderness boundary. We did find the lake and with some of the mystery dispelled, headed north. Luckily there were several strong trailbreakers in the party, but we were still slow and were probably seldom on the trail. We did keep going north and by noon when we stopped for food, seemed to be close to the junction. At this point the leader, who had been feeling worse and worse, “tossed his cookies” and felt somewhat better but only enough better to sip a little water. It became clear that we weren’t going to make it to anywhere near Jack and there was a strong consensus for turning back especially since another member of the party was also feeling sick. We decided, however, that “honor” demanded we make it to the junction, which we did with help from the GPS. With honor satisfied, we headed back and some of us, I hope, had a good ski out in the broken tracks. The leader in his weakened condition also made it after an unpleasant encounter with a deep tree well, and was pleased to have survived. The party consisted of Gary Bricher, Dick Hildreth, John Hudson, John Mowat (leader), Bob Smythe, and Susan Sullivan.


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