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175 NE Knowledge Street Prineville OR 97754 541/350-6189
Pole Creek to Obsidian ©05 Tim Satterfield
Pole Creek to Obsidian
Pole Creek to Obsidian ©05 Tim Satterfield Pole Creek to Obsidian ©05 Tim Satterfield Pole Creek to Obsidian ©05 Tim Satterfield Pole Creek to Obsidian ©05 Tim Satterfield Pole Creek to Obsidian ©05 Tim Satterfield Pole Creek to Obsidian ©05 Tim Satterfield Pole Creek to Obsidian ©05 Tim Satterfield Pole Creek to Obsidian ©05 Tim Satterfield Pole Creek to Obsidian ©05 Tim Satterfield Pole Creek to Obsidian ©05 Tim Satterfield Pole Creek to Obsidian ©05 Tim Satterfield
This trip really began two years ago after a three-day hike into the Obsidian area of the Central Oregon Cascades. My hiking partner, Dean Dowd, asked "Tim, what would you do differently on this trip?" "I think I would like to come in from the other side" was my reply. So a few more miles down the trail and a couple of years older, three of us started in from the Pole Creek trail head near Sisters, Oregon. The first day Aaron Kramer (57), Dean Dowd (77) and myself (57) hiked five miles up to a small meadow near the foot of the Hayden glacier. We had an elevation gain of 1750 feet. If you decide to hike our trail, take care in locating where the smaller trail cuts off from the main trail. The trail we took was the second trail (no number) off of trail number 4074. We hike up this trail to approximately the 6950 foot level and then turn off the trail due south to a small meadow (7000 ft.) where we camped for the evening. With the assistance of the guys I set up a Snow Peak "Penta" tarp to keep the elements off us that night. After a little exploring around the area and a dinner of Knorr's excellent Tomato & Basil soup, hot dogs, some Triscuits, and a little cheese and some gorp for dessert, I turned in for the evening. The moon went down early and we were blessed with a star-studded night. The star light brilliance is something you can only get with elevation; up here there is no pollution to cloud your vision of the stars. The next morning we found a half-inch of frost on the tarp, but not on our sleeping bags, (except the foot of my sleeping bag). Only those items left outside the tarp got touched with frost. After breakfast we packed up and headed up the mountain toward the Hayden Glacier. We climbed the foot of the glacier where I put my instep cramps on and we head across the ice and snow. Aaron was the first notice the crevasses on the south side of the glacier (he was trapped). When we noticed our predicament, we started carefully moving to the north side of the glacier, where there seemed to be fewer crevasses. Aaron worked his way clear. Dean pulled himself out of a crevasse. And I started testing the ice with my walking sticks. When we reached the north edge, we found that a couple of hikers had preceded us up the edge of the glacier and we followed their footsteps all the way to the top. Topping out at the saddle between the middle and north we found that "duck-footed" Kramer, "out-of-breath" Dowd, and "ol" lame-footed" Satterfield didn't have the will the tackle the Middle Sister. Never mind that it had snow four or five inches of snow the previous days and we didn't have the correct equipment to safely negotiate the slopes up to the top. After a little lunch we headed down the Collier Glacier hiking, and sliding on our derriere (unintentionally, and we slid on a few other parts also). We reached a point where we had to negotiate an icy ridge to transverse into another ice field, we started up I heard "OOP's" and as I turned I saw Aaron sliding toward the bottom of the incline. After Aaron made two more "OOP's" we all made the crest of the ridge and started down toward Arrowhead Lake. (We scored Aaron 7.5 out of a possible ten points for lack of form.) This writer thought he could save a little time by sliding down on his jacket to the bottom. "OOPS," - error, yes I was saving time, yes the speed was a lot of fun, and yes the rubble at the edge of the snow racing toward me like a mad dairy bull across his pasture. I knew I was in trouble when I couldn't find the breaks. I dug in all I had (hands and feet) and slow down to allow my legs to absorb the rocks without too may bruises. OUCH! Following other hikers who also didn't know the route, we finally arrived late evening at Arrowhead Lake. We set up camp, got a quick dinner and were soon fast asleep under another starry night. About 7:00 that evening my legs started to cramp. I had taken all the usual precautions, extra calcium & lots of Gatorade , but my leg's muscles started taking turns cramping. The Gracilis muscle would say to the Vastus Lateralis, your turn, the Vastus Lateralis would do his thing and pass off back the Gracilis who pass the pleasure down to the Peroneus Brevis, who would get his buddy, the Extensor Digitorum Longus, to take up the cause. This would go on for 30 minutes of so, each of the muscles in my legs taking turns, after they seized, and had a good laugh, the muscles would take a break and wait 45 - 60 minutes and start all over again. Finally, around 6:00 in the morning they quit partying and I got a couple hours of sleep before it was time to get myself out of bed. The next day we decided to move camp about half mile to the South. That day we lounge around camp. It was great to have allotted an extra day for just resting and a little area exploration. Our maps show a trail down to Sister Springs and Obsidian Falls, but we weren't exactly sure of where our camp was (located on the map). With a little map and compass work by sighting off of the Husband and Middle Sister, we located our position on the map and then we were able to walk down to the trail. The next day it was easy walk down to the springs and then to the falls. This is a beautiful part of the middle Cascade Range. It was about 4.6 miles Obsidian trail head. The vistas on this trip were great. I photographed until I was running low on camera memory. I took photos all the way up then down the trail. Soon I was searching the memory chip for an image to kill so that I would have enough room for a new shot. Moral: Always take enough film or memory for your camera. I recommend this hike; it has great vistas and is a bit of a challenge. The hike requires, if you were in good shape, two days, but why hurry when Mother Nature's beauty is all around. Take your time, four or five days is better (if you have the time). Equipment: The gear in my Coleman pack included: Sierra Design Delta sleeping bag, a silk bag liner from Cocoon (which really helps when the thermometer takes sudden dip. In the cool high country it always goes with me. A Therm-a- rest air mat, for me it's nice to keep my bad feet on a comfy mattress. I carried the Snow Peak "Penta" for overhead shelter and brought a 30" wide piece of 3-mil plastic for ground cloth. I think I'll try 40 inches next time. The Penta slept all three of us. For cooking I took a 110-gram gas canister, the Coleman F1 auto start stove, stove works great but the piezoelectric device failed. I keep a lighter handy just for this reason. The Snow Peak Ti (titanium) Solo kit is light and works well for cooking. I took their Ti spoon. I found that I needed an additional container for the cook kit so I have since added a plastic cup that fits perfectly within the solo kit. This is a great hike to take your trekking poles on. I had my Swix CT4s along and it made climbing and descending the glaciers a lot easier (and safer). The CT4s are a great lightweight and strong walking stick. On my feet were a pair of Vasque Breeze GTX XCR boots (7462) which allowed me to hike all day and took real good care of my (Dr.'s quote) "worn-out" ankles. I pair the boots with an extra insole (Ultra2) from Shock Doctor . The boots were good at kicking steps in to the glacier. I started using the Shock Doctor insoles after my feet "fell apart," so to speak. The heal cup stabilizes my heal in one place and keeps my feet from hurting. The composite foam padding absorbs shock and provides cushioning for my bone spur, allowing new to hike most of the day without pain. Also my feet don't tire as fast as they would normally tire. (I'm also testing a couple of other Shock Doctor products, I'll report on those later.) I took soup and wieners the first night, Natural High's Spicy Thai Chicken with Broccoli & Noodles (good stuff) for the second night and for the final evening, Backpacker's Pantry Beef Stroganoff. I generally like Beef Stroganoff but even after adding a little salt, well -- just give this one 2 1/2 stars out of 5. Breakfast I generally make a helping of gruel (oatmeal with raison and dried cranberries). Lunch is a little gorp and dried fruit. For a camera bag I chose an old Coleman waist pack. The little pack will hold my camera, batteries, extra memory (film), plus their is room for my Silva Ranger compass and map. The total amount of weight that I carried was 22 pounds including camera. Aaron carried 20 pounds. In his new GoLite pack he put a Coleman sleeping bag. Aaron carried a cheap blue camping mat and tarp from hardware store. We used the tarp under the 'Penta." He used an alcohol stove and tin can to cook in. (It works and is cheap to operate.) Dean carried 17.5 pounds in his homemade pack sack (He has since replaced the pack.). He also carried his Snow Peak Giga power (GS100A) . He likes it because it always works and simmers well. For sleeping Dean also carried a cheap blue camping mat that kept him off the ground (and that's about all). Contact Info: www.coleman.com, www.cascadedesigns.com, www.snowpeak.com, www.vasque.com, www.nordicwalking.no/, or www.swixsport.com, www.golite.com, www.naturalhigh.com , www.designsalt.com backpackerspantry.com . by Tim Satterfield