|We left at 7:30 AM to drive to Sisters,OR. From there we drove the punishing blacktop and gravel road 16 miles to the trail head which began at Three Creek Lake. The trail head was teaming with forest fire fighters and their vehicles.The area had only recently reopened after smoke and fires of several days ago. We began in the cool air of the morning with a steep half mile climb through a wonderfully scented Ponderosa pine forest. The trail switched back and forth and climbed upon sheets of loose shale and stone interspersed with dusty gravel. Finally the steepness left somewhat but still the trail carried a punishing upward slope as we steadily wound our way up the tilted table towards the rim. We passed through several beautiful meadows where the wildflowers grew in clumps to preserve moisture and protect the plants from the continuous winds. The ground was a dusty pumice and sand and was strewn with lava rocks from the ancient volcanoes. We noted the bark of several pines was missing at the base. This is evidence of porcupines which are mainly nocturnal and who feed upon the bark. Also, many of the pine trees are ravaged by the pine bark beetle which is destroying many pine trees here and throughout the west. The trail wound to the high projecting rim which overlooked the Three Creek Lake far below from whence we started. The vistas were breath taking. We looked upon nearby Broken Top Mountain and then to the Three Sisters Mountains. Finally in the distance were Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams and even Mt. Hood. Behind us lay Mt. Bachelor. The edge of the rim plunged below our feet some 500 feet into mountains of scree. 1000 feet below was three Creek Lake and our trail head. It was very dramatic. We had lunch perched on the dramatic cliff head looking at all the nearby mountains and their snow fields. We took many pictures and Erin was most impressed by the scenery. We e-mailed the pictures to her family. We then hiked an additional 1.3 miles along the table adjacent to the rim as the local cross country team jogged past us ol' timers en masse-oh to be young again! We came upon a steep snow field at the base of a large mound of red volcanic ash. We ascended that snowfield much to Erin's shock and crested the ash mound. The view beyond was heart-sto pping. Before us lay the peaks of Broken Top Mountain not a half mile away. The rest of the skyline was dotted with the peaks of The Sisters and Mt. Bachelor. Mt Tumalo also lay to the far left. According to the hiking books this is a five star hike. We all agreed it was one of our very favorites. See the pictures and judge for yourselves. The trip back to the trail head was long but satisfying. Everyone had a five star day. This was a special day and another record breaker by our talented trail Fuhrer, Bill. We finished with a hearty lunch at Bronco Billy's in Sisters,Oregon. We had barbecue chiken and ribs, hamburger(Oregon 1st place), and beer and wine to wash it down. We were famished after all that energy expenditure. We hiked a total of 8.3 miles and reached an altitude of 8000 feet. A total of 1675 vertical feet.