Endless P Summer

9/8/20…..20 miles…..Overland Lake

The Ruby Crest Trail follows along the top of central Nevada’s Ruby Mountains for 31 or so miles. We’re hiking from north to south and then again from south to north. Starting at Lamoille Canyon we’ll walk to the southern edge of the Ruby Mountain Wilderness which is about 6 miles north of Harrison Pass trailhead. Those 6 miles are a double track jeep road and Sara and I don’t feel like doing that twice. In a covid free world I’d probably hike one way between the two trailheads then hitch back to the car. These mountains spring up out of the desert in central Nevada creating a sky island of granite peaks and alpine lakes among a rather flat expanse of dry open desert. I’d first heard of this trail from a shelter caretaker on the AT in ‘16, I put it on my to do list then figured I’d get to it one of these times I’m driving across Nevada. The time is now. 
Yesterday Sara and I left Sacramento and drove east all day on I-80 to Elko, NV where we spent the night. Elko is an interstate, casino, desert town that has a big anti-drug billboard that reads, “Don‘t meth up our town.” This morning we drove south for less than an hour and could see the Rubies from a distance rising way up above the desert. Soon they were all around us. While following Lamoille Canyon Road to the end, we were cut off by a coyote which is always a good sign. When we got to the trailhead my cars thermometer read 30 degrees. Yesterday it was in high 90’s. A day before that us 112 in Sac. Be careful what you wish for I guess. 
The Ruby Crest Trail begins at the trailhead at the end of the road and the first few miles we climbed steadily up past a few beautiful lakes to Liberty Pass. The views really were remarkable. This place is easy on the eyes. We walked up and down through a lakes basin for a half a dozen miles along with a bunch of hawks and other hunting birds before finding ourselves on a ridge walk for awhile. We topped out for the day on Wines Peak which I believe is the high point of the trail around 10,800 feet. There were a few hikers out there and one of them, Camel, was hiking the Hot Springs Trail which starts on the Canadian Border(I think) and goes to Santa Barbara specializing in hot springs. The trail itself was very nice all day and besides being a little chilly it was sunny and clear out. In the evening we found a cozy campsite next to scenic Overland Lake and quickly set up the tent and warmed up. 
9/9/20…..23 miles…..Overland Lake
We should have left the tent set up and maybe left our sleeping bags in it. Just didn’t think it through and didn’t realize we’d be camping in the same spot again. This morning we zigzagged up above Overland Lake to a smaller tarn and then zigzagged some more to a steep pass which we think is Overland Lake Pass. From here we switchbacked way down a couple thousand feet and suddenly were in cow country. We crossed a couple different forks of Smith Creek where water was flowing then kind of went up and down while contouring on the side of mountains. When we reached the edge of the wilderness and beginning of the double track we figured we really don’t need to out and back 6 miles of atv trail. We turned and doubled back to our spot by the lake. Some say that every trail is actually 2 trails, a trail in each direction. You could say that.
From the top of Overland Lake Pass the scenery gradually got less dramatic heading south. If I was recommending this trail to someone(which I would) I’d say start at Harrison Pass and walk north but just go one way. That way the trail keeps getting better and better. 
9/10/20…..20 miles…..car
To read about today’s hiking just go back to day 1 and read it in reverse. Just kidding. The weather today was the best of the 3, nice and warm, sunny, no wind, and clear blue skies. I got in my only swim of the trail in Liberty Lake shortly before finishing. 
To prospective hikers or to my future self if I was to hike this trail again I have a couple little nuggets of advice. This is what I would do: first of all I’d prefer to hike it just one way and I’d go south to north as it gets better as you go, if a yo-yo was my only option I think I’d go from the north to Overland Lake Pass and turn around. Also take note that there’s no water for roughly 12 miles between Favre Lake and a series of springs a couple miles south of Overland Lake. Other than that, enjoy! This place is a gem like the name implies. Feel free to follow this blog or find us on insta for more pictures: @endlesspsummer and @sarahikes

These are pretty much all Sara’s pics, I dropped my phone in Lynn Harbor shortly after our trip. Unintentionally of course, and although I recovered it I lost tons of the best pictures you’ll never see.

Day 1…..24 miles…..Near Scott Pass, OR

The 3 Sisters are three beefy volcanos lined up north to south within the Oregon Cascades. The loop we are hiking is roughly 45 miles with then another 10 or so to summit South Sister and back.
Yesterday afternoon we climbed the ski mountain Mt. Bachelor just south of the Sisters then slept in the car not far from the trailhead. We started this morning from the Devil’s Lake trailhead on the South Sister approach trail. This was a good climb for about a mile and a half until it intersects with the Moraine Lake Trail. We followed this for 3 miles until joining the good ol’ PCT. 

Going clockwise the next 20 miles was smooth sailing on the PCT. I didn’t think I remembered this section but as I was hiking it all became very real, I could recall people I met and conversations I had while walking this section of trail 5 years ago. Today we passed through the Obsidian Creek area which is very cool but does require some red tape. You’re supposed to get a permit to
walk through at $3 pp. I didn’t remember doing this at all in ’15 but then Sara reminded me the PCT covered all these little permits. Anyway there’s some cool waterfalls, an excellent spring, and lots and lots of pieces of obsidian everywhere. Sara explained to me how obsidian is formed and if I listened more carefully I could relay that information to you. It’s basically when volcanic rock cools super quickly it becomes smooth and glass like, I think. Sure does look cool. We walked another 5-6 miles, passed through some lava fields, had great views of not only the Sisters but the other Cascades to the north and then turned off the PCT onto Scott Pass Trail and found a campsite shortly afterwards. Day 2…..22 miles…..near Moraine Lake


Very shortly after breaking camp the trail led us into a huge burn. Good thing we camped when we did, neither of us like to sleep in a burn when there’s a million dead trees hanging around waiting for a stiff breeze
to knock them over. The burn lasted about 10-12 miles and the last 2 miles or so  we had a bunch of blow downs to navigate around. It wasn’t all that pretty. The rest of the day was nice though. We started on Scott Pass trail and soon took a right on Green Lakes Trail which we’d be on most of the day keeping North, Middle, and then South Sister on our right. Near the end of the day we took another right turn to get back onto Moraine Lake Trail which we had started on. 
For most of the day we thought we’d have a shot at summitting South Sister this afternoon but we ended up taking our time. Instead we swam in a couple beautiful mountain lakes opposed to crushing all day and hoping we had enough daylight. We found a campsite just past Moraine Lake off the trail up South Sister very close to where we started yesterday morning. The plan is to summit in the morning then make our way back down to Devil’s Lake Trailhead. 

Day 3…..10 miles…..car


In order to go light on our climb this morning we left our tent set up and our sleeping bags inside then crossed our fingers and hoped nobody would mess with our stuff. Nobody did. From where we slept it was 4 miles to the summit with something like 3500 feet or gain. The first 3 miles were a solid climb with relatively easy to follow trail until we gained the ridge. The ridge itself, if you didn’t know any better, may have appeared to be the top of the mountain. It wasn’t. From there you could see up another another 1200+ feet to the summit of the volcano. Looking up there was a massive glacier to the right and a gigantic slope of red sand to the left. There appeared to be a very thin steep trail dissecting these two sections of the mountain and then the trail cut left across the steep red sand slope. It was actually
quite steep but nothing crazy.

We had small switchbacks all the way up until it cut left and it was much wider than it originally appeared. Once we crossed the red sand we reached the caldera and easily walked around the frozen lake inside of it to the summit of South Sister at 10,363 feet. From the top we had incredible views in every direction especially to the north where we could see the Cascades in a line all the way up to Mt. St. Helens. There was hardly any wind, not a cloud in the sky, and the smoke from nearby wildfires didn’t seem that bad. A beautiful day. On our way down we passed a million people so it seemed we beat the rush. There was even a wedding party climbing to the top where the couple was to be married on the summit. We gathered our gear that was untouched and walked two more miles back to the car. We drove half an hour to Bend with the gaslight on, ate burritos in town and bathed in the Deschutes River. 
This loop was pretty cool. A nice little backpacking trip. 

Undoubtedly the highlight was climbing South Sister. I remember when I hiked the PCT I heard some guys went and did this and it seemed like a fun side trip. Probably have to do it again next time I thru hike. 

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