Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September Outings/Hikes

September 29, 2011

Shelli, Candy, Ginger, and Dan on top of Lakes Lookout
Click HERE for hike pictures
     Today I returned to the top of Lakes Lookout on a glorious fall day!  Shelli Swanson was visiting from Alaska and wanted to hike up in the Elkhorns.  Candy Arledge, who would much rather ride her horse than walk, was going also so we needed to pick a relatively short, but spectacular view, destination!  The Lookout was perfect!
      Shelli drove to the ski area parking in her rental car (it had free miles she said!) and we parked right behind the Bogarts and Johnsons who were going to explore the loop around Dutch Flat Saddle and Black Lake.  As their pace was slightly faster than ours, we never saw them again!  
Fall colors in all their glory!
     The fall colors were stunning!  The "wild African turkey grass" was almost past, turning from its reddish hue to browns, but from a distance it still lent great contrast to the deep greens and a blue blue sky!  
     We arrived at the top of the peak in about an hour and a half, having hiked the entire way up the access road rather than cut cross country up the hill.  Candy preferred a trail!  Took a little cajoling right near the top when the trail got rocky!  But she made it.  Her husband Dan was already on the top by then!  
Ginger and her Inuk with Gunsight and
Van Patten in back. 
     Shelli had packed marvelous treats - whole wheat fig newtons, cheese and some yummy healthy crackers!  I took the time on the summit to build an inuk since I realized we had never constructed one at the top of Lookout.  Or did Luke and I build one when we came up on our anniversary three years ago?  Can't remember, but another was constructed!  
     Since we spent so long up on top of the peak, we opted to NOT take the alternate route back down via Hoffer Lakes.  Candy's hip was starting to bother her as well.  So back down the road, which obviously seemed longer on the return than going up!  Or so I thought!   
Look what Ginger found!
     Back down to Anthony Lakes picnic area where Shelli pulled out the rest of the food she had packed for the day!:  salmon sandwiches!  plums!  We sat at the edge of the shoreline in the sunshine and ate.  It was beautiful and only one other car in the area.  After Dan eyed a bobbing red cork in the water the whole time, I finally took off my shoes and waded out to retrieve it for him.  Sure enough, a cork and hook with an attached weight which was keeping it in place in the water.  
     A beautiful day with good friends!  

September 24, 2011
Crest trail as it heads north
to Elkhorn Peak.

Click HERE to view hike pictures
White spot in the middle is a goat!
     Ginger was off in LaGrande at the EOPW meeting and Rick had a1pm deadline to be back in town to pick up the Bountiful Basket at Brooklyn School.  So this jaunt up to Elkhorn Peak was more a test of the new Honda 4x4 on the Marble Pass Road and a goat viewing expedition.  The summit was NOT reached!  
     The road is in no better condition than the last time we traveled up in Moon's borrowed pickup truck, but driven slowly it is definitely doable!  The Honda did great.  Fall colors beginning to show, especially on the south west side of the Elkhorn Ridge.  The beauty of this trail is always the ability to snag views both to Baker Valley and Sumpter Valley on either side. 
    When it became clear Rick wasn't going to get to the top, he took time to watch mountain goats on the hillside and some good views down into Goodrich Lake.  
     Back to Baker City just in time to pick up the vegetables!  
Late blooming lupine overlooking Baker Valley from Elkhorn Ridge. 

September 18, 2011
Lakes Lookout

Group picture on the summit
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     Today we lead our 14th annual Hike to Heaven for the youth and families of the Presbyterian church.  Our destination is Lakes Lookout, hiking up from the ski area parking lot, for a round trip of about 4 miles and 1500 feet in elevation gain.  Our group shrunk to nine by the time we actually left, having lost people for a variety of reasons, especially illness!  Hiking this year were Molly, Bryson, & Spencer Smith; Liz Romvedt; Greg & Christian Miles; Mike Braymen, Rick and myself.  (Plus Spicer - Molly's father's dog!)
     We follow the road up "Road Run" for a short distance and then take off up Starbottle and Avanlanche ski runs (I have never skied this part of the mountain as they aren't beginner runs!) to the top of the hill.  The last steep uphill part takes us out right at the beginning of the Lakes Lookout trail - exactly Rick's intent!  
Can you spy the cross on the mountain slope?
     We spy a few stalwart snow patches between Lees Peak and Lakes Lookout, one of them I later realize makes the sign of a cross.  That was right below our spot on the summit for our worship service.  I think God was blessing our worship!  (And particularly our singing of Pass It On with the words, "I'll shout it from the mountaintop!")
     Luke's "wild African turkey grass" is in full fall splendor, casting a reddish hue to the hillsides.  It is especially beautiful around the Hoffer Meadow area in contrast to the bright green meadow grasses. 
Bryson is first to the top!
     Not many wildflowers remaining, although we did find a few gentians in the meadow area of Hoffer - closed up because the sun hadn't blessed them yet today.  Purple asters and a few lupines, all appearing on the "past" side.  
Ginger leads worship from the summit
     Bryson is the first to ascend to the summit, arriving around 11:05 and posing in front of the pole.  We snack and then decide we had better start worship because the air was definitely cool.  People weren't going to want to stay up on top for long!  Clouds are gathering, a wind is blowing, and it feels like fall!!  (At least it isn't snowing or raining!)  
    Worship follows with the theme of "Living Signposts" - short and sweet, but always profound when offered from the top of a mountain.  As we finish worship, the air cools, the wind picks up, and we decide it is time to leave....NOW!  People are getting cold!  
     Down off the mountain with Bryson and Christian in the lead and going down the road, while the rest of us take a slower pace and retrace our ski run trail.  Back at the picnic area we find Annie and Jason McClaurey and son Jake who have built a fire, cooked a few hot dogs, and in general have our lunch ready and waiting.  Disappointed that more couldn't join us today, either on the hike or on the picnic, but we had a great time.  S'mores, hot dogs, and plenty of brownies.  Thank you God for friends and a church family and the beauty of your world!  
Hoffer Meadows and Gunsight Peak

Labor Day, September 5
In front of Van Patten Butte
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     Rick and I are off this morning for a short, low impact hike - I'm still tired from the San Diego trip and Rick enjoyed a fairly strenuous hike with Mark Bogart just two days earlier.  His knees need a break!
    We are off to explore a new road - specifically a jeep road that takes off to the north about a half mile from the Anthony Lakes cabin road.  We park right at the junction.  It appears to be a veritable highway as it departs from the Anthony Road, but soon is blocked off with HUGE boulders and a sign saying no motorized vehicles.  It is obvious that is ignored frequently as we follow ATV tracks the entire way!
Forested walk
     We were thinking we would be in a more open setting, but the jeep trail passing through a thick spruce and pine forest, dropping DOWN to a closed in meadow.  We originally had thought to climb Bear Butte, but it appears to be more inaccessible - heavy thickets, downed timber, etc.  So we just follow the road!  It is easy walking, and we can walk side by side!  
Rick confirms they are elderberries!
     Eventually we open out on a hillside that suffered a fire YEARS ago - all the trees are about 8-12' high, charred timbers, open spaces, etc.  We can see Van Patten Butte, Gorham Butte and the valley patchwork below.  The valley has a layer of smoke on the eastern side - winds are shifting from the Wallowa fires and the heavy fires over in the Cascades.  I spot a few huckleberry bushes with berries - but they are small and still red.  We did find several elderberry bushes!  
We startled a huge woodpecker!
Funny fir cones!
     Wildflowers are fading - lupine, paintbrush, gilia, asters - all in their last color.  The forest is dry - the lack of thunderstorms with rain in the past month is telling.  We did discover a deer skeleton - well backbone and pelvis, some pine cones that sparkled in the sunlight with a whitish secretion, and we spooked a huge woodpecker that yelled at us as he flew around in a circle about us before landing on a tree long enough for his portrait! 
     All in all, we hiked in about 2.25 miles and then turned around and hiked back out!  Drove up to Anthony Lakes just for a quick view and homeward!  

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