Two weeks ago, John Fertig secured a wilderness permit for August 2 to allow six people to hike to Four-In-One Cone. Half of the group met in Bend and carpooled to Sisters to pick up one other hiker. Intending to beat the heat, all six hikers met at the Scott Trailhead on the west side of McKenzie Pass just before 8:00 am. After a short tailgate safety briefing, the group took off through the woods, chased by a few mosquitos.
The trail ascended the entire 4.5 miles to Four-In-One Cone, but it was fairly gradual; the cool morning breeze helped make it quick hike. The group only stopped a couple of times; once to disperse a fairly recent fire ring, and another time to look at an ant lion’s lair in the trail. The trail skirted the edge of the Collier Cone lava flow, and brought the group occasionally right next to the towering boundary between basalt and forest. As we gained elevation, we caught a few glimpses of North Sister before breaking out onto the pumice plains nestled between Four-In-One Cone and the flanks of North Sister.
Four-In-One Cone is more of a ridge that winds between the remnants of old calderas; starting with a black “cone” at the west end, and ending with a bright red one to the east. The views are spectacular. At the west end of the ridge, North Sister took center stage, with the Collier Glacier couched to the right, just below the peak of Middle Sister. At the east end of the ridge, Mt. Washington, Three-Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson, and just the tip of Mt. Hood were all clearly visible. Some spectacular photography was afforded by including the rugged remains of Whitebark pines that dotted the ridge.
Since we had made such good time on the hike in, it was decided to continue another mile to the meadow at the head of the trail, where it meets the PCT. The group was greeted with a recently dried creek bed that served as a lunch counter with more great views of North and Middle Sister. Since the hike back was all downhill, we arrived at the trailhead well before the heat of the day; completing a most excellent adventure.