Hayden Glacier carpeted the northeast slope just below the col between Middle Sister (the left peak in the above image) and North Sister.
The plan was that Geoff and I would camp the night before at the trail head and meet the group in the morning there. In the party were all nine Mt. Adams team members: Matt K, Matt C, Wendy F, Wendy B, Larissa, Laura, Karlene, Geoff, and myself. Joe Owens from Timberline Mountain Guides led the trip assisted by Jennifer and Heather.
I would like thank Wendy F. and Laura in advance for letting me use their photos in this post.
Here's the itinerary Jennifer sent us.
Meet at the Pole Creek Trail head. Please see directions below.
Time: 9:00 AM Date: July 24, 2010
Special Notes: Please be aware that you will need a trail head parking pass to park here. You can purchase a trail head parking pass from any Forest Service Ranger Station.
DIRECTIONS TO POLE CREEK TRAIL HEAD:
From the town of Sisters, take HWY 242 West. Take a left on FS Road 15, which is Pole Creek Road. Follow the road to its end, always following the signs for Pole Creek. At the end of the road is the trail head. Allow approximately 30 minutes from HWY 242 to the trail head as it is dirt. A trail head parking pass is required.
Day 1: Please bring all of the gear on the equipment list to the meeting point. After a gear check, orientation and dispersal of group gear, we will then hike in to and set up base camp. The approach to camp takes approximately 4 to 5 hours. Depending on the site we choose, the elevation of camp is between 6000’ and 7000’. After setting up our tents and eating lunch, we’ll conduct some basic mountaineering skills instruction.
Day 2: We may cover basic snow camping and advanced climbing techniques, glacier travel and roping techniques. After completing the instruction we will break camp and descend back to the trail head.
We supply the tents, cooking gear, and stoves. You will pick up your boots, crampons, ice axe and helmet at The Mountain Shoppe. The Lung Association will cover the cost on the rental equipment.
What You Must Bring:
Please bring all the gear that is on the equipment list. Please read the list carefully and call if you have any questions. Be sure to bring lunch and snacks for each day of your program and water for the first day. Once we arrive at camp we will be melting snow for water. Please bring a dehydrated meal for dinner and oatmeal for breakfast.
We are making arrangements to have you pick up your rental equipment at the Mountain Shoppe on NE Broadway. Please let me know if there is a piece of equipment that you do not need.
As luck would have it, I had to work until 9:15pm. So by the time I met up with Geoff in the parking lot of REI in Tualatin, it was pushing almost 10pm. But first thing first - I had not eaten all day and I needed to swing by a fast food Chinese joint on my way there. Geoff was already waiting for me in the parking lot and we quickly transferred all his gear in my Jeep.
I realized that he didn't have an ice axe or boots with him. It turned out the people at the Reach The Summit designated climbing shop told him that he didn't need to take the equipment with him when he went over there. Huh?? But we completely lucked out this time. It just so happened REI was having a used gear sale the next day and the employees were still working in the store getting ready for it even though it closed at 9pm. Geoff somehow managed to talk one of the managers into letting him rent the necessary equipment from them. Phew!!
Once all that was taken care of, we hit the road and started driving southbound on I-5 towards Salem, OR. From there, we would take Hwy 22 and 20 to Sisters, OR. The Forest Service Road 15 meandered through the woods just southwest of Sisters for a little over ten miles to the trail head. I was actually surprised to see how wide this road was and how well it was maintained. Then we realized we forgot to bring a NW Forest Pass that was needed to park there. But there was nothing we could do about that at this point so we just decided to hope for the best.
The campground at the trail head was well equipped, complete with picnic tables and a very clean outhouse. We saw a dozen or so cars already parked there. We quickly set up a tent and crashed for the night. We didn't even bother to tie down the tent. In fact, we probably didn't even need to put the fly on either We planed to get up at 7am the next morning. It was already 2am.
I woke up just before 7am and started getting ready. We were supposed to meet with the group at 9am. I started boiling water on my Coleman stove set up on a tree stump while I sorted my gear in the trunk of my Jeep. I had no time to deal with packing the night before and had all my gear just thrown together in my backpack and my gear bag. What a mess!
We were starting to get worried if we were even at the right trail head when 9am came and went. We let another fifteen minutes go by before we called Jennifer's cell phone and left a message. Just then, we saw a big black Beamer rolling in with Jennifer (the RTS head honcho), Heather, and Joe (Timberline Mountain Guides) in it. They apparently got stuck behind a slow moving vehicle. And all the other members of the Mt. Adams team started to arrive.
We gathered at the picnic table next to the outhouse and started dividing up the communal items such as tent parts, cooking pots, etc. Joe also talked a little bit to give us some tips on the subject of packing as well. I volunteered to carry the main body of the big tent Josh (one of the Reach The Summit training hike assistant) kindly loaned us for this occasion. Around 10:30am, we were finally ready to start hiking towards our camp site. This trail head was at around 5,300'.
The trail meandered through an utterly beautiful evergreen forest. This must be the kind of places where they take those perfect pictures they put in hiking guide books. Thankfully, unlike the South Sister climb the week before, we were not bothered by the mosquitoes as much either. As we hiked the gentle climb, we came across a couple of picturesque streams, Pole Creek and Soap Creek where we trotted across the log bridges. (I almost fell over on one of them...)
There were a lot of mountain flowers (I didn't know the names) all along the trail and near those streams. Rather than trying to put into words that wouldn't do justice, I'd just let some pictures do my talking.
And, every now and then, Middle Sister showed itself between tree tops go give us what was to come ahead of us. And so did Broke Top, North Sister and South Sister.