Hiking South Sister is another one of those questionable day hikes but leisurely overnight backpacking trips. I have done it as both a day hike and as an overnighter, and can attest to both being very rewarding in different ways. Although the competitor in me says that everyone should experience it as a day hike, taking your time up this mountain is worth it; you’ll be rewarded almost the entire way with spectacular views of both South Sister looming right in front of you, as well as Broken Top, Bachelor, Jefferson, and some other mountains along the way to the summit.
The hike is about 12 miles round trip, so again, if you’re going to hike it in a day, it’s best to get there mid-morning. You’ll also be gaining almost 5,000 feet in elevation, so it is not a simple up and back hike. You may want to go into this hike already in decent shape.
I did this hike with some teaching co-workers of mine, one of whom had never done it before. I’ll let the pictures do the narrating from here.
A picture of the trailhead marker in Devils Lake Campground. Obviously this was taken on the back of a car.
Dave’s alternative to sunscreen.
After climbing steadily up for a couple miles, the trailhead evens out to an open plains area with beautiful views.
A shot of Broken Top.
A shot of Moraine Lake, with Broken Top in the background.
Hiking across the ‘plains’ section with Mt. Bachelor (?) in the background.
What’s a backpacking trip without a fire and storytelling?
The morning of our summit push.
I believe the far mountain covered in clouds to the left is Bachelor.
Zig leading the way, with South Sister in the foreground.
The group on their way up.
At this point, the clouds hadn’t gathered as we made our way towards the top, so the views were stunning. This is a view of Broken Top.
As we made our way steadily up the morning of the summit, the conditions got worse and worse. Not long after this shot was taken, two members of our group opted out of making a summit push. The other member, Zig, had never summited before, so after a brief debate about the possible dangers of climbing to the top in white-out conditions (I’d never attempted this before), we both decided to give it a go.
Zig trudging towards the summit.
And the rewarding view at the top… Okay, I guess the view wasn’t rewarding, but the feeling of accomplishment was.
I decided to hike up with my camping stove and backpacking French Press so we could drink our reward at the top.
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