Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Old South Sister Route - 9/24/09

The hike to the top of South Sister began at the Old Mill Picnic Area off of Lee Canyon Road. It was a very nice hike for viewing fall color while getting an extremely good workout. The hike is only about 5.25 miles but the elevation gain is almost 2000 feet. The hike began as an easy "Stroll" through the picnic area and up a rock-lined trail. We left this trail for our "Warm-Up" on a faint trail that led up through the wash ending at the saddle. It was clear that we were all "warmed-up" as we finished the steep climb.

Next, we turned right and headed up the next hill for "The Test." There was very little trail but we all understood that if you were going UP then you would get to the next part of the hike. This climb was not extremely steep but after the "Warm-Up" it was a challenge none-the-less.

Next came a sort of respite called "The Ridge." That's just a fancy name for the ridge that crosses over to the "Real Deal" which is shown in the picture to the left. This is the top of South Sister and the steep scree climb that you see going up the middle is none other than the "Real Deal." Aside from this view, there are several very nice views from this portion of the hike including Mt. Charleston, the ski area and the Bristlecone Trail.

This view is found on the "Real Deal." The steepness of this climb is difficult to capture in the lens, however, there is still beauty all around.

At the top of the mountain is an old bristlecone stand and a rock outcropping that we climbed up on for a snack and views. The moss seen to the right, was found throughout the hike and also on this rocky mountain top. If anyone has any information on the type of moss this is, please make a comment below.

After a short rest and much picture-taking, we came off the top. It was quite cool up there at 10,300 feet so we were ready to start the steep descent. In the picture to the left, you see 3 of the 13 hikers surrounded by outstanding views of Mt. Charleston and yellow aspens lining avalanche zones in the surrounding mountains.

Again, the steepness of the "Real Deal" is difficult to always see through the lens, however, if you look past this happy hiker to the right, you can get an idea of one technique used to make your way down the scree-filled hillside. After getting down this portion of the hike, it was just a matter of crossing "The Ridge," going down "The Test," cooling down on the "Warm-Up" and "Strolling" back to the cars.

Oscar the horse was seen walking down Lee Canyon Road on the way out. Oscar didn't seem to mind the camera and stayed for several posed pictures. Don't you just love the evil eye he's giving us??

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