July 31-Aug 1, 2016 – Middle Sister, Hayden & Renfrew Glaciers

I‘d been dreaming of visiting the west side of Middle Sister in the summer for a number of years, and this year everything worked out to turn dreams into reality.  The weather looked to be fantastic when Joe, Dan and I left Springfield and headed up Highway 126, and soon we were working our way up Highway 242 and getting some fleeting views of the mountain.  At the trailhead, we sorted through gear, loaded our heavy overnight packs, and started down the well graded trail.  After a couple of miles, we got our first views of our playground for the next couple of days….


Middle Sister from the trail

We found a nice spot to take a quick break and eat a snack next to a small waterfall along the creek, and it was nice to get the heavy packs off our backs for a few minutes.  The overall beauty of the creek and forest wasn’t too bad either….

Joe and Dan

Joe and Dan ready to head up the trail

Before long we were hiking along the PCT and then onto the climbers trail up towards the mountain.  The area had a very alpine feel, and the wildflowers — lupine and paintbrush —- were awesome.  The snowfields on Middle looked to be in great shape, and I made a note to try to find a way to come back at a later date and make turns on the Little Brother.

Glacier View Trail

Glacier View Trail and Middle Sister

Little Brother

The Little Brother

After another mile or so on the trail, we worked our way up and around some steep cliffs, and finally out a ridge to an awesome camp site near Arrowhead Lake…


Dan and Joe on the trail

Arrowhead Lake

Arrowhead Lake

We found some nice level spots to pitch our tents with a good view of the mountain.  After camp was in order, it was time to explore the area for a little bit and snap a few photos before heading out for some evening turns….


Middle Sister

Tent view

The view from my tent

After exploring camp, it was time to head up and see what the snow was like.  It wasn’t more than a 10 minute hike from our tents to the end of the snow, and once there it was easy booting up the mountain.  Before long, we reached the top of the snowfield with excellent views of both Middle and North Sisters….


Middle Sister and Renfrew Glacier

Matt & North

Looking out over the Oregon Cascades

The views of the Oregon Cascades from our high point were quite remarkable.  To the north we could see all the way to Mt Adams in Washington, and the views south extended to Diamond Peak.  We hung out up top for a little while, and then it was time to harvest some corn.  I dropped in first, and rolled over the steep slope, perching on my toeside edge in the middle to shoot a few shots of Joe and Dan as they skied by….


Dan skiing with North Sister in the background


Dan with Joe down below

The snow on the steep slope was perfect corn.  Down lower, the snow was equally as good, and we ripped turns all the way back down….


Joe cruising


Turns on the last day of July

The turns kept going and going, and as we neared the bottom, Dan jumped a big buck mule deer and doe, which he had seen bedding down behind us on the climb up.  That occurred in the snow finger in the below photo, which we later coined “deer alley.”


Joe in “deer alley”

Back at camp, we cooked up some dinner, and enjoyed a well earned backcounty mixed drink.  I had my usual favorite of Crystal Light lemonade and tequila, mixed with corn snow.  Nothing tastes better.  After dinner, I took the camera out and snapped a few photos of the Sisters reflecting in the lake, as well as the evening sunset to the west from the top of the cliffs….

Middle and North

North, Middle and Arrowhead Lake


Sunset over the McKenzie River drainage

Once the sun went down, I set up my tripod and took some pictures of Middle Sister from my tent.  After shooting several, I realized I was perfectly situated (by dumb luck) to capture the Milky Way as well as the mountain.  After several shots of trial and error, I came away with the below photo…..

Middle and the milky way

Middle and the Milky Way

Stoked on the shots from the evening, it was time to hit the sack.  Sleep came easy, and soon it was morning and time to get August turns.  After breakfast, I had to get one more shot of the Middle reflecting in the lake as the sun was rising…


Reflections on the lake

We took off around 8:00 am, with the goal for the day being skiing on the Hayden and Renfrew glaciers.  The hike up was easy as it was the day before, and soon we were in deer alley, although there weren’t any deer this morning….


Flowers over deer alley

We worked our way over to the Renfrew, and climbed up under Middle Sister.  It wasn’t too long until we reached the col near Prouty Point, and enjoying the views to the east.  Below is a shot of Dan and Joe on the Renfrew…

Hiking the Renfrew

Hiking the Renfrew

At the Prouty Saddle, we enjoyed the views east to Broken Top, and took a quick break to eat lunch before enjoying perfect August corn snow turns on the Hayden Glacier.


Dan skiing on the Hayden

Summer turns on the Hayden

Summer turns on the Hayden

A few crevasses were exposed, but nothing major, and we enjoyed turn after turn of quality snow down the Hayden.  I fired off several shots of the skiers as they cruised down, including a few below…


Joe enjoying August turns on the Hayden


Dan skiing below Prouty Point

We skied our way down the Hayden for somewhere around 1600-1800 feet, and worked our way over to the rocks adjacent to and above the iceberg lake at the base of the North Sister.

Dan skiing the Hayden

Dan skiing the Hayden


Looking back up at Middle and Prouty Point

Looking out over the North Sister, our route from a year and a half earlier was hardly even recognizable.  Nothing but a bunch of rocks.  Turning our attention back to the Hayden, it was time to climb back to the Prouty saddle above.  Hiking up the Hayden is one of the prettiest spots in the Oregon cascades no doubt….


Climbing up the Hayden

Back at the col, we strapped/clicked into our skis and board, and proceeded to enjoy nice corn turns down the Renfrew, stopping briefly to refill our water bottles from glacier melt coming over the rocks right out of the snow.  The turns on the Renfrew were pretty sweet, but not as nice as the Hayden….


Dan skiing with the Husband as a backdrop


Matt riding the Renfrew

We skied down the Renfrew, crossed over a rock ridge, and a short hike later were back to deer alley to finish up our turns.  After a short hike back to camp, it was time to pack up and head down the trail to the car.  The hike to the car seemed to take an eternity, especially after we were through the lava flow and into the forest.  Finally, we made it to the car where a fatty garden salad and cold beers were waiting.  On the car ride home, we all agreed it was a pretty sweet way to kick off the month of August, and we’re looking forward to heading back again.  Here’s a parting shot from the trip….


Bank turn over the Oregon Cascades


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