Hiking up South Sister

July 28, 2019

I had technically booked a hammock to sleep in at the hostel, but a rowdy crew on the back patio made sleeping impossible. I moved to a couch and got kicked out at midnight, so I slept in a corner instead. I woke up early from more noise and ended up having a very slow morning at the hostel. My legs were still tender from the past few big days. Nick showed up and I packed my mountaineering gear in a box to be mailed to Mt Shasta. We stopped by Fedex, only to realize that everything was closed on a Sunday. I’d have to cycle with the box up to my next side adventure and then until the next town. I wasn’t excited to be carrying a full 90lbs up huge hills again.

Nick and I grabbed food at a hip ethnic spot downtown then made a grocery store run. We started pedaling out of Bend toward Mt Bachelor ski resort. It was only 30 miles and 2800’ of climbing, what I thought was pretty manageable compared to our riding earlier this week. I could definitely feel the extra weight, but I was convinced that I was a lot stronger after the past few 5000’ days. I pedaled through the first long hills, breathing steady.

The heat was building, my mind started working against me, and my legs were going weak. Bone-deep exhaustion was hitting and I got cranky. I hated this stupid box, I hated the heat, and I started hyperventilating. I sat down on the side of the road and cried. A sweet old couple, Bob and Sherri, pulled over. They really wanted to help, and ended up giving me extra water, hugs, and promised to ship my box to Shasta for me. I was so grateful to drop that 25 lb box and caught up to Nick waiting for me further up the hill. He also thought this was a pretty heinous uphill. We pedaled the rest of the hill together to Mt Bachelor, then dropped down the other side of the pass through alpine meadows and lakes. Wildflowers colored the bottoms of valleys, and we spotted the Three Sisters. A glorious downhill put us by a campsite right on the edge of Devil’s Lake. I couldn’t stop eating food, and ended up crashing hard in my sleeping bag soon after.

July 29, 2019

I woke up refreshed at 7:30am and brewed coffee. I put a cup in front of Nick’s tent to motivate him out of his tent. We packed up a backpack and started the hike up South Sister, my fourth Cascade volcano.

The trail steepened right off the bat. We walked through a forest, then up a sandy plain with an alpine lake and wildflowers. Broken Top and South Sister stood above us. The trail switchbacked up a loose slope, and soon we found ourselves on a ridge overlooking the Lewis Glacier and a turquoise glacial lake. I dipped my feet into the icy blue to calm the swelling in my right ankle.

We continued up a ridge to a steep, loose talus field. The red talus slid down with me every step I took, but I pushed through to the top. Hundreds of monarch butterflies fluttered all around. Some really fun gals had me and Nick chug a Smirnoff and fed me a brownie at the summit.

Nick and I circled the volcanic rim and began making our way down. It felt like the down would never end and we were out of snacks. Back at camp, we collapsed in my sunny tent, away from the mosquitos, and ate a whole block of cheese with a bag of triscuits. I crashed hard after the 11 mile, 5000’ day. Not bad for a day off the bike! I’m having trouble calling it a rest day, though.

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