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Too much snow puts twist in sisters' plan with dad to plumb heights of his curiosity.

Byline: John Rezell The Register-Guard

Curiosity got the best of me. Or maybe simply laziness. Really, I can never figure out which is which.

The point is, we had an occasion to make a day trip up to Bend and, having spent any number of days this spring - and summer - seeing the Sisters blast out from behind the trees in their snowy winter white splendor, I could hear them calling me like ancient sirens.

The day before we drove up, I looked across the breakfast table at my two daughters, who will hit ages 12 and 10 in the next two months. They seem to be on some quantum highway, speeding toward a level of maturity that, at the same time, sparks inspiration and perspiration.

Right there and then, I decided we were going to check out the trail up South Sister. Who knows if we'll be able to hike five miles or five feet? We have to check it out.

At that point I shared my edict with the girls, and put it into proper perspective: We've been hiking before, even hiking in mountains and actually climbing higher than we could get atop South Sister. But we really haven't done anything as rugged as this, and that means a new attention to detail.

That's about the moment when they looked more like ages 4 and 2, those brown eyes popped wide, wide open screaming to me, OK, if you say so.

What followed was a simple discussion about the preparations one makes for venturing where, ah, the possibilities have, let's say, more imagination than they do strolling along the river trail downtown.

Reality means my backpack will weigh an extra five or 10 pounds, with all those possibilities taken into account - including a tent. And, so as to get the point across to them, they will be carrying supplies, too, not skipping up a trail empty-handed.

Once we finished up with our duties in Bend, we hit the Cascade Lakes Highway. It didn't take long to hit snow, and the first time Mount Bachelor exploded into view, it felt as if someone slipped a snowball down my neck.

Never mind the fact that whenever the Sisters have made their surprise cameos this year, I've found myself at my intended journey's end. But as Semisonic sings, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end ..."

As we neared the trailhead at Devil's Lake, apprehension overcame my hearty adventurers in the back seat. I made it clear that we weren't about to make a snow assault on a mountain. We prepared for a summer hike until we hit snow, then it's over. Hey, once my sandals come out, that's it. The hiking boots hit the closet.

At Devil's Lake we found it would take crossing snow in the campground parking lot just to get to the trailhead. We headed up the road to the Mirror Lake trailhead and found some Forest Service workers there. They pretty much put it into perspective. Snow from the start for the Sisters.

Mirror Lake trailhead, however, looked a little inviting. They hadn't cleared it yet and were guessing we might make a mile before getting turned around. We decided to give it a go.

Ten minutes later, Taylor won the guessing game about how long we could hike. By then, maybe not more than a half-mile in since we kept stopping for photos, we had climbed over seven downed trees and stood atop a three-foot drift with at least five fingers reaching into the woods in different directions, and no way of knowing which finger followed the real trail.

We paused, and I pointed out the dangers of going any farther. Knowing that if we hadn't put down some markers already, we might not know the way back. And this just 10 minutes in.

The girls nodded and got back to playing in the snow. We dunked our feet in some lakes and streams on the way back, and another epic adventure turned into a simple, playful afternoon.

Checkout a slideshow or contact John Rezell, aka Raz, at www.eugenemeraz.com.
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Title Annotation:Outdoors Columnist
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jul 8, 2008
Words:686
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