10.5 miles, 1200ft gain/loss, fitbit data: 30,845 steps. We get up to another sunny morning, always a welcome sight in the backcountry, especially after having done waaay toooo many sopping wet trips…A simple breakfast and we’re on our way. Today, the plan is to head out on the Broken Top trail, which we passed on our way in at the south end of the lake, and make it to Crater Creek, which begins out of the Crook Glacier on Broken Top, before turning around.
And, instead of walking around the east shore, we decide to get there by hiking around the west shore. There is no real trail here around the northern edge of the lake, and it’s mostly sandy and barren, like a river delta that was dried up.
Once on the western shore, there is a faint trail until you reach the jumbled boulder field that lies at the outlet of the stream coming down the side of the South Sister. Which was the whole reason for coming this way in the first place… Yesterday, during our wrong turn into the day use area I had spied a small waterfall that I thought might be worthy to visit. Problem is, once here, you couldn’t see it, unless you hiked up the stream that carved its way down around a blind corner, which we decided not to do. Back at the trail junction, we turned left onto the Broken Top trail, at mile 1.8, and found several campsites located along it. The trail here is also good, and we pass several trail runners. In fact, I have never seen more runners on trails than the ones we pass today combined in all of my years backpacking! It seems these paths are a trail runner’s mecca, and I can see why. They’re smooth, few obstacles like rocks or roots to trip on, and a pretty easy grade. In fact, it makes this area great for people just getting into backpacking, as there is lots of scenery and relatively easy grades.
The trail ducks in and out of the trees, across rolling wide open flats and meadows. Again, the few small streams we cross attract verdant life to their banks, lots of greenery and color.
“…The shattered tops form a semi-circle like a monstrous amphitheater…”
At mile 4.5 we hit the Soda creek cut-off, and then shortly after, we come to expansive wide open views of Broken Top, and are awed and impressed. Huge bands of color run like ribbons on its stark face, varying hues of brown and red.The shattered tops form a semi-circle like a monstrous amphitheater, and a large snowfield lies at the base of the middle parapets. The rolling hills leading up to their base, with ghostly dead snags like bleached bones standing in stark contrast to the living trees makes a dramatic picture, and I give the camera a workout.
By 1:15pm, we reach our designated turn-around point at little Crater Creek, 5.5 miles, so we stop to sit on the banks and eat our lunch, all the while enjoying our view of Broken Top.
“…I decide, “What the heck”, and jump in anyway…”
The heat turns up on us on our return trip and once again, we’re happy to return to our camp, if for nothing else than a chance to get out of the sun. This time, the wind seems to be more incessant, and the original plan of jumping in the lake seems like less of an option now. Until we get down to the lake to get water, I decide, “What the heck”, and jump in anyway. Just not for long, as it is cold, cold, cold!
A young couple sees us pumping water, and stops and asks if it would be too much trouble if we could top off their bottles for them. They had bought one of the Sawyer Straw systems, and it appears it wasn’t working out too well for them. Bottles filled, and they went their way and we head back to camp. And dry clothes…In fact, the wind was still blowing so hard, that even though it was in the upper 70’s, we were so cold that we pretty much put everything we had on to fight the chill!
“…which helped it finally boil…Then burn, scorching it right to the bottom of the pan!”
For dinner, thought I would try something new, Alfredo egg noodles, with a nice creamy garlic sauce. Recipe called for 1 ½ cups of milk for the sauce, so after boiling the noodles (the wind kept blowing the flame around, so it took a lot longer than eight minutes) we added water to the powdered milk and tried bringing it to a boil. Without a lot of success, either, as the wind continued to blow. The wind kept up, and without a proper wind screen, we had to keep the lid on, which helped it finally boil…Then burn, scorching it right to the bottom of the pan! Needless to say, dinner left a little to be desired….Lesson learned here, again, as well…If you’re gonna heat up milk, do it under more optimal conditions. Like no wind…And, low heat…
We ended up taking the pot home with scorched milk still stuck to it, too hard to clean in the field. Even after getting it home, and a half hour scrub-fest, we were unable to get all the black crud off the bottom…Scorched bottom and cracked lid pretty much add up to pitched pot…
We thought we’d sit up long enough to watch the stars again, but…The wind continued its relentless blowing, so this chased us into the tent to play dice before turning in. The wind continued to blow until around 3:00am, beating on the sides of our not so properly pitched tent, making it difficult to get to sleep…