Day 93: Setting up for a summit push…

Day: Tuesday, August 30th 2016
Miles: 1950.1 – 1956.8
Elk Lake Camp 1950.1 – Moraine Lake Trail Cutoff 1956.8 + 4miles to Moraine Lake Camp
I love the Pacific Crest Trail, but there’s something alluring about a summit push, and the PCT has a tendency to avoid full-blown summit ascents, preferring a more circuitous routing ‘cresting’ the heights in an almost poetic manner. Today I would indulge myself in a little off-trail fun, given the treat that I could see this morning just up ahead, the dominating peak of South Sister.
I awoke in my comfy cabana around 7 after a glorious nights sleep, and wandered down to the shuttered resort center. I was in no rush at all this morning, but my dream of a big breakfast was dashed when i realized they only served it on weekends, now that the season was winding down. A reminder if any, that summer is beginning to come to a close and there is still much walking to be done. I had been passing text messages to and from Breakaway for the past day about the possibility of a summit attempt of South Sister, and since we agreed to meet in Elk Lake this morning to discuss it, I would be hanging around here for some time. Sadly the wifi wasn’t up to much and without breakfast nor charging, I was somewhat at a loose end. It appeared that FlyBy had already left Elk Lake before I arrived, but I had little idea where he was.

Waking up in Jaimes comfortable cabana, with Bob Marley

As the morning drew on, slowly a slew of hikers began to arrive to the resort including Caveman, Upgrade and Engineer along with ActionJackson. By the time Breakaway arrived in, there was much banter and a good atmosphere, with the bar and restaurant open for lunch. I had a sneaky beef burger and a beer whilst we planned out our routing for climbing South Sister. This would include a hike along the PCT for a few miles, then to a base camp at Moraine Lake, a summit attempt tomorrow morning, followed by rejoining the PCT later tomorrow, and attempting to recapture some miles. I was excited at that plan, it sounded like a challenging ascent and a very different day in the woods!

It was 3PM by the time we finally departed Elk Lake. I had made contact with FlyBy, who had continued ahead last night and summited South Sister today. He mentioned that we may catch him on the way to Moraine Lake tonight. So, with all hikers accounted for, the climbing party included myself, Breakaway and Outro. The hike out of Elk Lake was beautiful and afforded many opportunities to see the surrounding mountains of Broken Top, Mt.Bachelor and South Sister. The latter was the largest peak in the area, so dominating that it obscured the Middle and North Sister Peaks for the entire approach.


Mt.Bachelor, I really need to try and get here to ski this season!

After breaking off from the PCT to the Moraine Lake Trail, we passed a number of bone dry meadows, with golden grasses and sandy soil. The trail seemed to walk straight at the peak, before ascending to its southern edges.


Outro makes a break for South Sister


It was around 7PM when we finally bumped into FlyBy who was tired and satisfied after his days ascent. Passing the Devils Lake trail that most day-hikers would normally use, we were surprised to only see a couple of other campers in the area.img_4017

FlyBy decided to come and camp with us by the incredibly pretty Moraine Lake. This was a restricted area, with camping only allowed in specific spots, but we lucked out and found an amazing spot on a height above the lake. Our perfect camping spot gave us a view overlooking the lake and surrounding peaks, accompanied with a sunset to rival none.


The view from our camp, probably one of the best views in the entire camp zone.

We wandered down to the shore to collect some water, and gazed at incredible reflections of tomorrows target, as the shadow of the setting sun descended on the area around us.

Reflections on Moraine Lake

It was cold, very cold as we zipped up in our tents. Myself, Outro and Breakaway in tents, and FlyBy cowboy camping close by.At 9PM we were all in bed, ready for a pre-dawn departure, with our resupply food hanging outside from a tree, and our slack-packs pre-filled and ready for us to make a quick departure in the morning.


My tent, along with tyvek sheet and one of my many plastic bags


Hanging our food for the night.

2 thoughts on “Day 93: Setting up for a summit push…

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