Wednesday, July 13, 2011

North Sister / Black Sister - 7/12/11

Tuesday's hike was a very ambitious hike to the peaks of North Sister and Black Sister, each located to the west of Lee Canyon Highway or Hwy 156. Harlan Stockman was the guest hike leader for this hike as it was the first time the Around the Bend Friends had reached these summits by this particular route. Normally reaching North Sister by way of the South Sister Peak, a very difficult hike in itself, Harlan graciously enjoyed taking a group of fifteen hikers (including himself) up to the peaks from a different trailhead just south of the chain-up area.

The hike began steep and became even steeper. But, it appears that the fifteen hikers were up to the challenge and completed the hike in only 4.25 hours. The complete loop was only 4.25 miles but held a total elevation gain of 2500 feet. The photos were taken by Larry D. and he apologizes for the smudge on some of them. The writer feels this only adds to evidence that the hike took a lot of concentration and ... ahem ... perspiration.

In the photo above, Larry took this photo of a limestone arch with Black Sister in the background. Excellent! In the following photos, you can see how the hike got steeper as they neared the ridge. Mike O'C. was happy to offer his take on the hike in the italicized words below.

Those enchanting queens would be North Sister and Black Sister, two of the four sibling mountains in the Lee Canyon area (North, South, Black and White). Never one to welcome company, North Sister is the pariah of the family. She might just as well be Lonely or Rejected Sister, as not many hikers set foot on her flanks, let alone her summit. But on this pluperfect, 62-degree morning, 15 trekkers would come-a-calling.

The Around the Bend Friends were pleased to welcome guest hiker, Harlan Stockman. Relying on Harlan's vast expertise and jovial demeanor, the arduous Tuesday trek to the Elusive Sister was steep and quick. The final four hundred feet of vertical ascent tested the hikers' resolve. The landscape was not only vertiginous, but somewhat perilous, with the occasional loose boulder cascading down the slope. Rock!

It was here that, we surmise, Mr. Mike got bombarded on the arm by a falling rock set loose by a fellow hiker. Blood every- where! But he's okay ... we're pretty sure! At any rate, the view from the top is ... well, always ... worth it. Mt. Charleston was seen to the south past the South Sister Peak and Lee Canyon Highway was seen to the northeast as it snaked its way behind the closer view of part of North Sister.

Following fluids, chow and first aid on top, the precarious descent lay ahead. Nice and easy does it. At the base of North Sister, it was still mid-morning, so the decision was unanimous--tackle another peak. On to Black Sister.

Black Sister, so called because of its color, is a third peak in the family of four sisters. After making the slippery descent off of North Sister's peak, the 15 hikers traversed the connecting ridge over to Black Sister. The climb up to the peak required this climb as seen below. It seems there was a bit of exposure!

Thirty minutes later, the intrepid bunch clawed their way up the limestone chute to the crest. With not a whole lot of real estate on top, 15 bodies proved to be a tad cozy. The winds were beginning to gust, so the summit stay was brief. Time to descend.

The report from Larry related that the route down from Black Sister was "steep and brushy." The photo below is representative of the few photos taken of this section of the hike. A good nose for direction was likely useful as the group found their way down toward the highway. Soon, they found themselves at the highway chain-up area. A quarter mile left to hike along the road and they were done. Mike and gang bade, "Andiamo." The writer exclaims, "What a hike, guys!"

No comments: