Tag Archives: Sisters Wilderness

Backpacking to Green Lakes – Visiting the Sisters!

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Friday and Saturday, 22-Oct-2021 and 23-Oct-2021



Friday, 22-Oct-2021


It all started with an epic odyssey in search of coffee and breakfast.

I swear, that wasn’t the plan.


The plan was simple – get going early, pick up coffee and a breakfast sandwich, and stuff some coffee packets into my backpack before getting to the trailhead before 11.

But as we all know, simple isn’t always viable, and sometimes the world wants me to take an epic odyssey all over Bend, searching for a Starbucks that’s actually freaking open.



Yeah, so everyone’s heard of the whole “labor shortage” thing, right? And, I hope, the counter stories about workers applying to dozens of “desperately needed” jobs, only to get a single half-hearted interview?

Well, without passing judgement on which new story is lying, I can say that the Starbucks in Bend are annoying me, and that they’re understaffed… to say the least.

I stopped at four Starbucks before I finally found on that was open… and even then, they didn’t have what I was looking for “due to supply shortages”

Seriously. I didn’t make it to the trailhead ’till almost 1:00!



But you know what?

That’s fine. It’s all fine – I’m not in a rush; the trail to Green Lakes is only 5 or 7 miles each way (I think it’s officially 4.55miles to the lakes area, with a few more spent trying to find a campsite), and I still had quite a bit of daylight left. My bag was packed, I was ready to go, and the trail was waiting for me.



Adequately caffeinated, I started into the woods.

It’s… interesting. Green Lakes was one of those hikes that Sarah and I did regularly when we were still a semi-happy young couple. But I couldn’t tell you the last time I’d been out there… and frankly, I don’t know why we stopped going. It had been a tradition, for a little while, but… as with everything it seemed to have withered and died on the vine.

Going in by myself was interesting, with that context in mind. I enjoyed the familiar views, and appreciated seeing them with new eyes. I took photos, I reflected, and I continued walking until it was time to stop.


In the evening, I set up camp before heading out to explore the large Moraine flowing to the South of South Sister – It’s a very interesting geological feature, full of neat pumice stones and obsidian chunks. I watched the sunset, and appreciated the quiet and solitude of the wilderness.

Dinner was had, my book was read, and sleep came easily.





Saturday, 23-Oct-2021


Saturday dawned bright and cold – my absolute favorite was for a dawn to break.

Instead of cooking breakfast at camp, I was feeling exploratory… so I bundled up the breakfast bits and headed out toward Green Lake itself, aiming to cook up some oatmeal and jerky. With, of course, my hard-earned coffee!

Of interesting note – I got to watch various Instagrammers doing their product-placement photoshoots while I cooked and ate… One lady and her dog posed with beef jerky sticks, while another did handstands in exceptionally well-fitted yoga pants, while her fried photographed the hand lotion balanced on her feet… before saying that they should have brought their sponsored trash bags too.

It was interesting. I’m not hugely against it, mind you, but it’s definitely interesting.



After enjoying a lovely slow breakfast, I re-packed the gear, and took a walk. I’d been to Green Lakes, as I mentioned, but I hadn’t even gone past the Northern border of the camping area… There was no rush to the day, and my legs were feeling good, so I set my sights on a far-off ridgeline, and started walking.

The trail was beautiful, and I’m absolutely thankful that I took the time to explore – Green Lakes has excellent views, but the views of Broken Top from the ridgeline were unique, and the light was just,.. *muah*





After returning to camp, I could have packed up… but again, I wasn’t really in any rush for the day. I wanted to get back to the car before sunset, but… it’s all downhill, man. And I don’t walk too slowly anymore, so I felt confident enough tat I took it easy.

I stretched out in the sun, opened my book, and spent some time trying to understand the book that I’d brought with me… no easy task, since it’s a full-on psychotherapy dialogue, rooted in lessons earned during the authors time in concentration camps during the Holocaust. But worthwhile things take effort, and I feel positive about what I learned in that sun-dappled spot, in the middle of Oregon, surrounded by the peace and quiet of the mountains.




The hike out went even better than I could have hoped. I arrived back at the car with nearly an hour of sunlight left… which gave me easily enough time to quietly pack the car, take a few extra photos… and more importantly, even granted me the chance to revisit a favorite Tex-Mex restaurant in Bend (El Rodeo) that I hadn’t been to since the last time I’d hiked in the area.

A great trip, and a much appreciated chance to overwrite some negative memories with more positive ones… while also doing some significant introspection on that exact subject.

One does not simply walk into Mordor… 17&18-Sept-2021, walking through Mordor

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Friday and Saturday, 17-Sept-2021 and 18-Sept-2021


“One does not simply walk into Mordor”, Boromir said to the council.

“The Lord of Gondor speaks truly”, said Ben, “But one can walk through it, if one is quick and keeps their wits about them”

“Ohh.”, Boromir responded.



I’m not saying that’s 100% how it happened… but that’s probably exactly how it happened.

How what happened? Ohh, how Laurel and I walked through Mordor, of course!



We’d spent the week checking the weather and debating different hikes to try. Originally we’d planned on spending three days hiking into Green Lakes, in the Sisters Wilderness, before we’d realized that permits stopped being required the next month, and not that month. Then, we looked at a few hikes in Washington… but they had rain all weekend long.

The weather out in the Pacific Northwest is fickle though, so we kept our wits about us and kept checking the forecast, ’till we finally found a spot with available permits and a clear-ish weather window: the Western edge of the Sisters Wilderness, across the ridgeline from our original goal!


We cut the trip down to two days, thanks to the rain, but aside from that we kept the plan similar – meet up early on Friday (I’d have pancakes ready and waiting, of course), and then hike into camp before sundown on Friday. Then enjoy the sound of rain on the tent Saturday morning, before hiking out as the rain started in earnest.



The plan went as… well, as planned. Chocolate Chip pancakes with Bacon, some coffee, and a relatively normal 3hr drive brought us to the trailhead. Good conversations were had both in the car and on the path, though the trail did put a bit of a damper on conversation as we got into the burnt area of the wilderness.

Did I mention that part? The online trail description mentioned that there were a few miles in the middle that had been part of a wildfire, but… as can be expected, the trail description didn’t quite convey just how burnt this was. We’re not talking “lightly singed” trees, here. We’re talking scorched earth, blackened deadwood. The forest had been regrowing over the past two years, of course, but it was still noticeably dusty and devastated… a fact which added quite a bit of solemnity to the hike.

We persevered, though.



Walking through the burn was a good meditation aid, but I’ll freely admit that I was quite thankful to get through and back to living forests. Both Laurel and I had a rough time of it; burning through our water much more quickly than expected, between us and making sure Biscuit had enough to drink… the sun was warm, and the trail was dusty, and the views seemed to sap our energy as we continued through…



Until, finally, we came through Mordor to the other side… our destination, Husband Lake



It’s interesting – I’ve hiked in the Sisters Wilderness many times before, but I’d never heard of a mountain called “The Husband” before. It’s nestled to the West of the main Three Sisters, in a parallel valley to the Green Lakes valley. There’s a series of small lakes, and the PCT even goes through the valley a little ways to the East.

It’s beautiful, barely travelled, and… I don’t quite get why it’s not as popular. As you can see, dear reader, we may have gotten some stellar views as we unpacked, set up camp, and the sun dipped down toward the horizon.


Laurel, being the MVP that she is, had insisted on carrying my inflatable kayak. We’re heading to a lake, so clearly we needed to be able to paddle it, right? Right.

I’ve used the kayak quite a few times before, but this was my first time using it on a proper backpacking trip… and let me tell you, it was absolutely amazing. Quietly sitting on the lake as the sun sent light scattering through the clouds and smoke? Gorgeous.

Laurel set up the tent while I paddled, then she paddled off while I filtered the water and started prepping dinner… it was gloriously chill, and an amazing post-hike start to the evening.

The only one unhappy with the situation was Biscuit, I’m sorry to report. He was definitely not a fan of the humans splashing into the distance where he couldn’t check on them, and so stayed as close to the kayak as he could on the shore… after swimming for a while, of course. But it was cold, and he’s a svelt pup, so we quickly dried him off and bundled the poor dear up while we cooked dinner, drank wine, and chatted on into the night…



The next morning dawned exactly as we’d expected – to the pittering sound of rain on the tent.


There’s something gloriously relaxing about waking up on a cool morning in the rain. It wasn’t quite cold, thanks to having three people in the tent… well, two people and one dog… and the sound of the rain was just inconsistent enough that it was both soothing and interesting at the same time.

I lay, drifting in and out of sleep, for quite a while… It was lovely, and absolutely what I’d been hoping for when we talked about going backpacking. But, after a little bit, I started to feel restless… and found myself outside, braving the rain to do a bit of exploring and to make a bite of breakfast.


We’d packed coffee, instant eggs, cheese, and some tortillas… nothing too fancy, mind, but enough that it was lovely and fun, and just enough work to assemble that we had something to do in the warm dryness of the tent. I’d been tempted to just push through the rain, but Laurel insisted on waiting for a bit… I wasn’t convinced that the rain would hold off, but hanging out in the tent was fun, and she’d put up with me pushing us onward the day before… so turnabout is fair play, and we spent an hour or two just relaxing and chatting in the warm dry spot in the storm.



She was right, it turned out. The rain slowed, then stopped completely.


We headed out into the world, packed up, and got ourselves underway back toward the truck. The hike out was long, and definitely wet, but also beautiful. It was easier to chat, since the trail wasn’t quite so dusty, and the fine mist helped keep us cool… cool enough that we didn’t really want to slow down much, as we made our way down the trail.

It was lovely – a major shift in climate from the day before, but an excellent ending to an excellent hike.

Specific details:

Trail map: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/oregon/foley-ridge-trail
Foley Ridge trailhead permit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/willamette/recreation/recarea/?recid=4435&actid=104

Distance (Expected) = 14.6 miles, plus 1mile to the lake
Distance (measured on FitBit) = 22+ miles

Elevation (expected) = 2,368 ft
Elevation (measured on Fitbit) = 2,520 ft