August 6, 2012

Easily accessible and loaded with outdoor discoveries - and some good fishing

Three Creeks Lake from top of  Tam MacArthur Rim
One of the most picturesque and easily accessible high lakes in Oregon lies in Central Oregon some 16 miles from the town of Sisters. It's name is Three Creeks Lake. What often differentiates lakes of any kind is not the lake itself but its surroundings. In this case, a 500 foot high cliff rises high above the lake's southern shore, providing a classic backdrop to the scene.

Tam McArthur Rim from Three Creeks Lake
Compared to other roads leading to high Cascade lakes, boulder and pothole laden, that toss you like a salad inside your rig, road 16 is mostly paved and turns into a nicely graveled drive not far from the lake.
Three Creeks Lake from Northwest shore
Fishing is good at the lake. What else is good is the hiking near the lake. One of the best walks is the view filled hike to Broken Top.
Broken Top in the background

Once reaching the top of Tam McArthur Rim, the trail opens up to views of Broken Top and the Three Sisters. A few miles after leaving the rim, the trail begins to fade near a butte called Broken Hand. Here, my hiking partner and I had to climb down the west face of Broken Hand to get to Broken Top.

Broken Hand

Originally, Broken Hand was to be the turnaround point to our hike, but as we drew closer to Broken Top, its ruggedness prompted us to continue past Broken Hand. Something else attracted us to Broken Top that we did not know existed - a lake inside the remnants of the eroded mountain.

Lake inside Broken Top Crater
After trudging across the high plain between Top and Hand, we made our way up the tiny canyon created by the lake's creek outlet. Soon, we were standing at the lake's shoreline.
Far shore from southern shoreline
It had been a fairly rigorous hike. The temperature was high, and the sun at 8,000 feet beats down a little harder than at sea level. The idea of a little rejuvenation before the return hike seemed like a good idea, so I stripped everything off except my hiking shorts and dove in.

Immediately, the frigid waters, melt from a glacier, had me kicking to the lake's surface. It felt so good I treaded water for awhile, then did a little backstroke for a few minutes. NOT REALLY! After popping up to the surface, I shot to shore and climbed out, not regretting the move, but swearing I would never do it again.
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