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Oct 22 2006
Oregon_Hiker
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 Guides 9
 Routes 392
 Photos 7,006
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75 male
 Joined Dec 07 2010
 Phoenix, AZ
Irish Mountain-Mink Lake Loop TrailNortheast, OR
Northeast, OR
Hiking avatar Oct 22 2006
Oregon_Hiker
Hiking20.00 Miles 1,500 AEG
Hiking20.00 Miles
1,500 ft AEG40 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
There was a forecast for unusually warm weather in the western Cascades the weekend of Oct 22-23, 2006. I had been waiting for such an opportunity to go on a two night backpacking trip in the southern part of the Three Sisters Wilderness. This was a shortened version of the Irish Mountain-Mink Lake Loop - 20 miles is a rough estimate of the distance. Since I don't have a GPS track of my wanderings you will have to suffer through a long description of my route. My trek started at the Crossing Way trailhead at coordinates N43.90925 W122.01765 and headed approximately southeast on the Crossing Way trail, #3307 towards Irish Mountain. After roughly 3 miles I turned northeast on an old, no longer maintained trail that goes to McFarland Lake passing Piper Lake on the way. There had been an attempt to hide the trail by laying brush on it. The first night I camped at an established campsite on the north shore of Mcfarland Lake. The next morning after having a hot oatmeal breakfast with freshly picked huckleberries, I set off on an off trail bushwack passing by the north shore of East McFarland Lake to intersect with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) near Cougar Flat. This is an area of thick old growth Douglas Fir and the terrain is fairly open under the tree canopy. I followed the contour of the sloping hillside as much as possible. Upon hitting the PCT, I headed north until reaching trail #16 to Winopee Lake where I turned right (east) and proceeded toward that lake. From Winopee Lake I took the Winopee Lake Trail #33 past Snowshoe Lake where I camped on my second night and proceeded past Upper Snowshoe Lake heading northwest towards an intersection again with the PCT. I had planned to go north on the PCT and take the trail which heads northwest towards Mink Lake but was running out of time so headed south on the PCT to trail #3510. From there I took trail #3510 northwest to trail #3523 which led me south back to the Crossing Way Trail returning to the trail head.

The weather remained warm and sunny during the day with cool, crisp nights just below freezing. Although there were no lofty mountain vistas, there were many lakes surrounded by old growth Douglas Fir forests and the bright red fall colors of the Hucklberry bushes contrasted with patches of snow made for beautiful scenery. There was plenty of solitude on this trek - I didn't see anyone until the third day when a group of camoflaged elk hunters emerged from their forest cover to greet me on the trail. They had not seen any elk in over a week. What I really like about hiking in the Cascades in the Fall besides the beauty and the solitude is the lack of mosquitoes after the first frost.
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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