Friday, July 30, 2010

South Sister - 7/29/10

Chris emailed the blogger and offered this report of Thursday's hike to the peak of South Sister (aka Big Sister.)

The numbers were down a bit for the club hike today to South Sister, as 13 hardy souls showed up for the 5-mile out-and-back trek to a very distinctive peak overlooking Lee Canyon. Perhaps that was due to the nearly 2,000 feet of elevation that had to be gained climbing to the top or perhaps it was because clouds seemed to be building over the Spring Mountains that morning.

As we started up the trail we were greeted with our first rain shower. It wasn't very heavy precipitation, so only a few of the hikers decided to bring out any rain gear. That shower stopped after a few minutes and we continued up the faint trail through a drainage that eventually would bring us to a narrow saddle between two ridges. Near the top of that saddle we were greeted with a second shower, this one more intense than the first. Clouds hung low over the mountains, with the tops of the peaks across Lee Canyon shrouded in the mist and the rainfall evident above the north ridge between Mummy and Charleston. At this point, we decided to climb the steep ridge to where we would get a view of our target and then decide whether or not to continue to the peak. As luck would have it, the clouds parted somewhat and the rain stopped, so we were able to make the steep climb to the top.

Of our group, about five or six hikers had never done this hike before and didn't know what was in store for them. One of our newer members was overheard commenting to a fellow hiker, while in the more level section of the first drainage, that this hike seemed to be much easier than the one we did the previous week to Mummy Springs. By the time we were at the top, he had changed his mind on that call. Getting to the saddle at the top between the split peak sections, we then explained what was necessary to get to the actual peak. Most of the participants did the Class 3 climb through the cliff section to the main peak and walked the narrow rock ridge along the top to the sign-in box. Did I tell you that there were drop offs on both sides of the ridge, which was only a few feet wide in a few spots?

While perusing the sign-in book during our short snack break, Bill Scheib noted a startling anomaly. Our club had last done this hike the previous year on July 30, almost one year to the day before our current adventure. On that occasion, we must have felt that our time getting to the top was pretty fast, as we had indicated that we had made the summit at 10:46 AM that day. Ironically, the participants on this year's version reached the peak (you guessed it) at precisely 10:46 AM. Talk about coincidences.

After a short stay, our group headed down without any incidences and the weather cooperated in every way. Once again, an exciting and safe experience for all.

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