The hiking in this lake region was quite pleasant, although there were no vistas, and most of the lakes and ponds on the right side of the trail were hidden from view by the dense tree cover. Lucky Man passed me and said he was headed for the campground at Brahma Lake. When I arrived at the lake several hours later, I left the main trail to follow the spur trail to the campground where I found Lucky Man just setting up his tent. I had expected to see a large number of hikers at this campground, but tonight it was just Lucky Man and me. Knowing that I would be leaving in the dark in the morning, I backtracked to the main trail, taking careful note of marker points that I would need to follow to find the trail in the dark. This was a good night to have a tent, as the mosquito population was on the prowl for anything succulent.
Before noon on the following day, Lucky Man again passed me, after which I had the trail all to myself. As usual, for this part of Oregon, there were no big climbs or steep descents; mainly, the trail stayed on level ground as it passed by a string of sparkling lakes. And always there were trail junctions with signs that pointed in the direction of the lake.
From the trail I was on, I could hear voices coming from a different trail somewhere down below my position. Within a half mile, I encountered another trail junction leading down to a lake, somewhere off to my left. Just as I noticed this side trail, I came face to face with a large mule being ridden by an equally large, middle-aged woman, who seemed to be very comfortable riding this very large animal. In a loud voice, she shouted "Whoa" to the mule and pulled up in front of me. Trotting behind the mule was a very skinny lady, followed by a fast-moving black-and-white border collie that was wound up tighter than a child’s spring-loaded toy. The woman on the mule inquired if I was a PCT thru-hiker. I answered in the affirmative, and she said,
“We love thru-hikers," then offered to pack out any trash I might have with me. I told her,
“I was good; I’ll be to Sisters/Bend in another day and will dispose of my trash there.”
She informed me that she and her companion had been camping down by a lake and were now headed to another lake, but she was not quite sure of its location. However, she was confident the mule would know how to find the lake, and with that she set off down the PC Trail that I had just come up.
The skinny lady, who was striding behind the mule, indicated to me that her companion didn’t really know what her location was in relation to the lake they were seeking, but she dutifully trotted on behind her. The border collie set off up the trail with me, but upon hearing a shout from the skinny lady, turned and bolted like a miniature greyhound back to her. The whole scene was rather comical and reminded me of a female version of the comedian duo – Laurel and Hardy.
Because I was entering the Sisters' corridor, which was a very popular section of the PC Trail for weekend hikers, I encountered numerous day and section hikers. From somewhere up the trail, yet still out of sight, I could hear the voices of small children. When they finally came in sight, I saw that the hikers were a mom and dad and two small girls, one of which was talking nonstop. I pulled off the trail to let them pass, but they stopped to chat. They wanted to know all the usual questions associated with thru-hikers, and then the talkative eight-year-old asked me what my trail name was. I told her it was Rabbit Stick, which made her giggle, and then she proudly announced that the family had met Cookie earlier this morning.
Having passed Irish Lake, I was now inside the Three Sisters Wilderness area, and the terrain couldn’t be flatter. All day I walked beside small lakes and ponds, the largest being Mink Lake, which I couldn’t see from the trail, but took note of trail signs which point in the direction of the lake. About midday, I stopped to take a whiz, and as I was leaning up against a tree, I caught a fleeting glimpse of something furry in the rocks at my feet. The creature moved, and for a split second came out into the open. I could tell it was a miniature mink, no more than six inches long. Its underbelly was cream colored while its top half was a dark brown. In my walk today, I was fortunate to see two of these little fellows.
In the late afternoon, I passed a trail that descended down to Elk Lake Resort, one of the most popular recreational lakes in the Cascade Range. From the guidebooks I knew they had a fine restaurant at the lodge, and I was tempted to hike the mile and a half to the resort and partake of a fine meal, but scuttlebutt on the trail had it that the meals were expensive, so I passed, although they couldn’t be any more expensive than the twenty-four-dollar meal I purchased at Drakesbad. As I was standing at the trail junction, Samba and Tallywa showed up. They said it was their intention to hike down to the lodge and have dinner at the restaurant; I asked them to be sure and tell me how it was when next we meet.
Hikers who go to the resort via the Elk Lake Trail do not have to backtrack on the same trail to return to the PCT; instead, they can return via the Horse Creek Trail which will put them a mile and a half farther up the PCT. When I reach the Horse Creek Trail junction, it was time to camp, and I found a flat spot just big enough for my ground cloth and bedroll.
Sisters' Mirror Lake marked the entrance to the southern portal of the Three Sisters volcano district. It was a brilliant day today, with blue skies and no clouds and the placid waters of the lake give a perfect mirror reflection of the South Sister. Undoubtedly this was one of the most photographed scenes along the Sisters' corridor.
Today, the Sisters are named North, Middle, and South Sister, but when the first settlers moved into the Bend area, these peaks were given the names of Hope, Faith, and Charity, however, the names didn’t stick. Also, not all the family is aligned along the corridor, for off to the west are peaks named The Wife, The Husband, and The Brother.