[pct-l] Off the beaten path

ALAN ARTMAN alanartman at msn.com
Fri Apr 10 13:33:55 CDT 2009

Giggles--here are a couple of thoughts for off-the-beaten-PCT in Oregon:  (1) climb South Sister in the Three Sisters Wilderness.  It's a 10,400' peak, a non-technical climb easily doable in a day.  From the top, on a clear day, you can see as far as Mt. McLoughlin to the south, and Mt. Hood/Mt. Adams to the north--in other words, pretty much your whole Oregon PCT. At the moment I don't have access to my maps/guidebooks etc, but as I recall, when the PCT turns north after Mirror Lake to pass by Rock Mesa, you can continue east at the junction, then take the trail up to and camp at Moraine Lake, which I guess to be about 6,000 ft level, and I also guess to be less than two miles from the PCT.  (You would not be smart to rely on my guesses, however--check it out on a map.)  Don't feel bad if you decide to not to do this side trip--while a number of thrus have climbed South Sis at other times, I have never met or heard of anyone who has done it while thru-hiking.
(2) my second suggestion is Ramona Falls, about 8 miles north of Timberline Lodge as the PCT traverses Mt. Hood's west side. After crossing the Sandy River, the trail climbs to a bench where you'll see a sign "Ramona Falls Trail".  The official PCT goes to the left, but you should go right, and the trail goes up to Ramona Falls, a magical place where the light dances on the cascading falls. If you continue on the trail down Ramona Creek, you'll meet back up with the PCT in two miles or so, where the three-year old "temporary" PCT trail heads off to the right to cross the Muddy Fork.  Don't tell the PCT police I told you, but this (Ramona Falls) route actually saves you 1/4 mile or so. From my informal count, I estimate that about one in three thru hikers take this side trip, and EVERYONE I've talked to recommends it highly. 
Good luck with your hike, and be sure to let us know which side trips you end up doing!
Alan  (Patchwork) Artman

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