We chose to take it “easy” today. We opted for Green Lakes: it’s a hike we’ve done several times before that has a big payoff for less effort. After spending the morning in Sisters going for a run, reading and enjoying the pool and hot tub, we headed south to Bend with a carful of huckleberry smoothies. The smoothies, complemented by some slices and knots from Pizza Mondo, rounded out our incredibly nutritious (yeah, right) and rather filling lunch. As we drove westward on the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway the cloud-filled sky let loose with some sprinkles. Ah, it’d be okay, we thought out loud. Then the sprinkles got a little heavier. They’d stopped by the time we pulled into the Green Lakes trailhead around 2 p.m. though clouds still filled parts of the sky.
Thunderstorms were predicted for the evening. I’m not sure if there was any correlation, but there were tons of park rangers at the trailhead too. Perhaps they were going to be hiking in for the night to be sentries on the lookout for any fires. One ranger who helped us with our permit (there was a line) warned us of bad weather in the forecast and asked us to be careful. We’d be in and out before nightfall as this was a quick hike up to Green Lakes and back.
The outbound, upward section of this hike is so beautiful. Fall Creek rushes by on the right with alternating cascades of white and placid stretches where vibrant colorful rocks in the stream bed are sharply visible through the crystal clear surface. We kept a good pace on the inbound hike and enjoyed reminiscing about how we’d hiked part of this segment as we passed the junction with the Moraine Lake trail. It’d been a long day up the climber’s trail to South Sister’s summit and we’d run low on water. I remembered fast-packing ahead of the rest of the family to get back to the campsite to filter water and start dinner. I recalled the stretch where I’d left a bag of Craisins in the middle of the dusty trail, scratching “Dawson” in the dirt in front of it. That way, my weary family would have some sustenance for the last mile. It seemed like such a long time ago!
A pair of horseback riders rode toward us. We stepped off below the trail to let them pass. They are such majestic creatures and I suddenly looked forward to our planned horseback ride Saturday morning. Closer to Green Lakes, after the sign that lays out the camping rules, we encountered the tree. It’s a tree that has a crook near the base that is perfect for sitting. Every year we’ve been there we’ve taken a photo of us sitting in that crook. Today was no exception!
The sun had been with us during the entire hike but cruelly ducked behind the clouds as we entered Green Lakes. The lakes were still pretty, but without the sun the vibrant blues and green had turned to darker, more muted shades. We sat on a weathered log and took in the view of Broken Top, talking about the time we screed down the flanks after hiking close to the summit. Turning around, we could see the beginnings of the climber’s trail up South Sister. We remember that hike well and could see the large waterfall you pass as you start.
Raindrops started to fall so we didn’t linger long. Just a half mile into the return trip, however, the clouds parted and the sun came back. It was as if we needed to see Green Lakes in the dusky light today, and that was fine with me! The rest of the hike out was uneventful with the miles clicking by as we chatted in pairs.
You’ll recall that one of our favorite post-hike activities is hitting up a local establishment for food and beer. Today’s choice was Worthy Brewing. Sadly as we pulled into the parking lot, it was clear that it probably wouldn’t not work. There were tons of people there already although it was a Wednesday night. We’d last been here three years ago, and during that time the area had clearly grown up. The many pocket neighborhoods and apartments nearby must have had something to do with the crowds at Worthy (we would find out there was also a special event, too). We decided we weren’t up for a half hour wait and headed to our backup choice, 10 Barrel Brewing. That, too, was mobbed. They estimated 45 minutes to an hour. As with many things in life, what turned out happening was the very best choice. We headed to Ray’s grocery store in Sisters, picked up some nice organic pasta, Classico sauce and some meatballs for a quick home-based dinner. We put on some music in the background and had a relaxing, quiet dinner to round out our day!
By the Numbers
9.22 miles, 3:40 total time, 1,136 foot ascent