[/caption] A view of the North Sister mountain as you hike down one of the many cinder cones dotting the north side of the Three Sisters Wilderness. If you’re looking for a long day hike that will provide you with a taste of what the moon may look like, I would recommend that you hike some of the many trails on the north side of the Three Sisters wilderness. To get to one of these hiking trail’s, you will want to drive along the McKenzie highway (hwy242) and just look for a sign that shows the start of a hiking trail. One of my favorite hiking trails is the Scott Trail that starts near Scott Lake and is about 5 miles west of the Dee Observatory. You will want to make sure and bring plenty of mosquito repellent since the best time to hike the trail is July and the mosquito’s will eat you alive if you don’t come prepared. However, once you leave the meadows and forest floor and start to climb higher in elevation, the mosquito’s disappear. The official name of the Scott Trail is Four-In-Once Cone and it’s about a 9 mile round trip hike. However, you may want to continue hiking past 4 in 1 cone and continue until you get to the intersection of the PCT. You then have two options of either heading south towards the North Sister glacier/collier cone or heading north towards Yapoah Crater. If you’re doing a day hike, you will only have about an additional 1 or 2 miles of energy left so you’re pretty limited in your distance. Trust me, you will be pretty well spent and you have to make the journey back the same way you came. However, it’s mostly downhill but you will be pretty tired. You will also spend at least an hour taking photos of the ghostly and amazing landscape. You can see as far north as Mt. Adams if the sky’s are clear.
[/caption] Beautiful view of Broken Top from crater meadow in the Three Sisters Wilderness area. If you’re looking for a great area to get in some great hiking and have an opportunity to get some great photos and take in some great views, you won’t want to pass up the chance to hike near Broken Top mountain. However, if you’re going for only a day hike and you want to avoid the killer up hill elevation gain that you must endure via the Green Lakes trailhead, you may want to cheat a little by driving to the Broken Top trailhead. However, you will need to endure over 4 miles of a rugged dirt road that calls for a high clearance vehicle and lots of patience. Once you get to the parking lot you will find yourself with having to deal with only about 500 to 1,000 feet of elevation gain, depending on what you want to do. You are pretty much smack dab in the middle of Broken Top and you can continue along the trailhead or span out in several different directions once you get to a well marked intersection of trails. This photo was taken along the crater meadow with two lava cones in the foreground and on both the right and left of Broken Top. There are plenty of wildlife in the area as well as dozens of alpine flowers dotting the landscape. You will also walk across several small to medium sized creeks as well as see several waterfalls. Even during mid Fall, you will find yourself hiking through snow as well as several snow bridges.
[/caption] Crater Creek flows down the alpine mountains near Broken Top with Ball Butte in the background. Hiking in the Three Sisters Wilderness offers several opportunities to visit many of the creeks flowing from the nearby glaciers as well as seeing the cluster of alpine lakes that dot the wilderness. The wilderness offers one of the most memorable experiences and provides the outdoor adventurer everything that a wilderness should. There are dozens of glaciers, snow-capped mountains, creeks, lakes, waterfalls, alpine flowers, wildlife and of course some amazing views. However, you will want to visit during the weekday or off seasons since summer and weekends can really get busy.
[/caption] Over the years I have tried to find the best spot to take a photo of the Three Sisters and Mt. Bachelor in winter. However, I have never been able to get both of them in the same photo. I eventually found one of the best spots to attain these photos with little more than a 2 hour snow-shoe adventure that ends at the summit of Bates Butte. The butte is just a few miles southwest of Sunriver. The butte is right off the road, the elevation gain is only about 600 feet and you have a 360 degree view of the land. I had no idea that any of these buttes offered views like this. Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest through the trees. In fact, you can see Paulina Peak to the east and Mt. Scott, the tip of Mt. Thielsen and Diamond Peak to the south. Once I got home, I starting looking through my Oregon Atlas and Gazetteer and found that there are several buttes in the area that are easy to get to and may offer even better views. To get this shot I was using my Canon Rebel T1i along with my Canon 55-250mm telephoto lens. I also had my UV, warming filter and CIR-PL filter attached. The camera was set in Program/Normal mode and the aperture was at F-7. The ISO was at 100 and the white balance was set at -1.3 due to the bad lighting. The focal length was at 100mm and the shutter was opened for 1/250 second. Since the photo was taken at 12:52pm the lighting was pretty dull. However, I had to wait for the sun to creep around the mountains before I could get a descent shot that included some light against Mt. Bachelor.