Monday, July 23, 2012

Little Cracker Creek Crest Trail Hike

Click HERE to view all the pictures
Lunch spot overlooking Rock Creek drainage

     Rick has one more road he wants to explore out of Bourne as an access to the Elkhorn Crest Trail from the south side:  Little Cracker Creek Mining Road.  Rusty Munn joins us for the day.  We leave early because we have a 4pm appointment back in town!  
     The mining road has been torn up by heavy equipment moving up - rocky and rough going!  The truck gets its workout over the 2.5 miles from Bourne, but we finally come to a stopping place, park (I wanted to close my eyes and was glad Rusty got out to direct Rick!), and walk up the road for a short few switchbacks before we found Forest Service Road 030 take off.  
Phlox and Paintbrush!
Lupine everywhere! 
     To call this a "road" and mark it on the map as the same quality road that we drove up Cracker Creek (main branch) would be a sham.  No comparison!  This road does NOT switchback in any way, and climbs 900' in a half mile.  It was originally made to connect the power from the Rock Creek Power Plant on the other side of the crest with the mines on the southwest side.  After our very steep climb up to the saddle, we found some broken insulators, wood, and wire at the top.  
Goat hair, but no goats :(
     We have hit the prime time for the lupine and other wildflowers on this stretch of trail.  I can't really express how beautiful the flowers were as they lined the hillsides, the trail, in an array of whites (phlox that looked like snow, dock, lousewort?), yellows (golden stars), reds (paintbrush) and purples (lupine, lupine, and more lupine!)  I saw just one mariposa lily along the road just after leaving the truck.  A few other new flowers I had difficulty in identifying, but mostly lupine, phlox, and abundance!  
     We hiked about 2 miles south of the saddle to the junction with the Pole Creek Trail, and then another half mile or so to another saddle where we could see the water of Rock Creek Lake.  We had vistas to Mount Ireland, to Strawberry Mountain, to Monument Peak, down to Sumpter, Phillips Lake and the dredge trailings and the entire Rock Creek basin and Eilertson Meadows.  Some of the trail was in the sparse shadow of trees, but much was on open hillsides.  
You have to love the trail sign marking the Pole Creek Ridge Trail!
     We stopped at one saddle on a rocky outcropping overlooking the Rock Creek drainage to grab a bite to eat.  I couldn't help but think all day of Katy's sermon yesterday about taking time for a 'wilderness experience' and felt we certainly did our part today!!  Incredible Hike!!!  Thank you God!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fishing and Flowers

Friday, July 13 and Thursday, July 19
Eagle Creek Fishing at Two Color Campground
Drive west on Rd 77 from Boulder Park, past West Eagle Meadows, to Hwy 203

Eagle Creek at Two Color
Click here for all pictures

     On Friday the 13th we went FISHING!  Well, Rick went fishing and I went flower hunting, resting, cloud gazing, and fish sitting!  It was a great day!  We drove up to Two Color Campground.  The water was cold, or at least Rick SAID it was.  I had to agree for the 10 minutes I stood out in it also!  Rick caught his limit in under 45 minutes I think and then played around abit.  It was so much cooler than down in the valley.
     Saturday afternoon we packed up the tent trailer and drove it up to Catherine Creek State Park for the Conklins to use for the next 5 nights (Cherrie's sisters needed a place to stay.)  This was the reason for our second fishing adventure on Thursday - we had to pick the trailer back up!
West Eagle Meadows
     Thursday we couldn't leave until after I finished teaching my BMCC class, so it was a little after 11a when we left Baker.  A bit faster drive in the truck than the car - it is easier to see the ruts, etc. from the truck vantage point!  Rick found the holes he caught fish in quickly on Friday had been fished out by the local campers.  As he said, "I had to WORK for these fish!"  Yeah, it took him nearly an hour and half instead of half that time!  He still came home with his limit of 5!  I found a few new flowers, or at least flowers in different places!  Plus I did some relaxing reading.
Penstemon and Flagstaff Butte
     Our drive to Catherine Creek was an adventure.  We had driven up to West Eagle Meadows years ago, but never beyond there as Road 77 continues to end at Highway 203 near our sledding hill summit.  The sign says "Rough Road" as you turn off the Boulder Park/Two Color Road, and they meant it!  Five miles up to West Eagle Meadows - dodging rocks and chuck holes mostly.  Slow going.  We stopped at the meadows briefly for a couple of pictures.  The road improved amazingly right at the campground and trailhead and then deteriorated just past.  (In looking at the map, I discovered that part was in Union County.  Could it be?)  The next 5-7 miles were equally rocky and slow going....VERY slow!  But, as we neared Flagstaff Butte, the views opened out beautifully!  First, the hillsides were covered with wildflowers.  I will list all that we saw at the bottom, but wild onion covered MANY hillsides!  Then vistas eastward to the peaks of the Eagles/Wallowa Mts. opened up.  It made the road more tolerable somehow!
     The last 10 miles of the drive descended rapidly through larch and lodgepole forests of young trees - perhaps an old logging area or burn site.  The wildflowers along the road disappeared in the thick forest and undergrowth lining the road.  But the road quality was MUCH improved to a smooth gravel grade.  Considerably better time.  Total time from leaving Two Color to Highway 203 (distance of about 18-20 miles) was 1 1/2 hours.
     We picked up the trailer - all folded up and in the parking lot looking rather lonely - and headed home through Union and Pyles Canyon to North Powder.  Fish again for dinner!
     Flowers from both trips:  paintbrush, scarlet gilia, fireweed, Lewis monkeyflower, buttercups, sticky geranium, pearly everlasting, yarrow, mariposa lily, false hellebore, pussytoes, Thimbleberry, cow parsnip, white bog orchid, buckwheat, stonecrop, Queen's cup, Salal, oxeye daisy (white), goldenweed, arnica, tapertip onion, red clover, wild rose, American vetch, red columbine, lupine, purple alpine aster.  Whew!
            Click for just FLOWER pictures  :) 

Daisies and stump near Eagle Creek

Rick's July Hike

Pole Creek Ridge - Rock Creek Butte Hike
July 3, 2012

The mountain goat
Nearing Rock Creek Butte
     While Ginger was at the General Assembly of the PC(USA), Rick went exploring in the Honda on some new back roads between Sumpter and Bourne.  He found the Pole Creek Ridge trailhead, which is a one mile short-cut UP (read that carefully UP) to the Elkhorn Creek Trail.  The views were magnificent, especially after he decided to head south abit on the trail.  Then....the summit of Rock Creek Butte beckoned.  Afterall, he was so close. He struggled somewhat to reach the top, his good wisdom in doubt!  But to look down on Rock Creek Lake, still half shrouded in ice and snow, on a full Pine Creek Reservoir, was pretty awesome.  Rick also was blessed with a regal view of a majestic mountain goat, shed of its shaggy coat, and looking splendid on the hillside.  Altogether a 10 mile trek, with a fair amount of elevation, but a superior hike!!
Glacier Lily
Rock Creek Lake from atop the butte

Click HERE to view the pictures Rick took using Jed's old Olympus digital camera (Ginger had the good one in Pittsburgh! I think he did pretty well!)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lakes Lookout Hike

Rick, Ging, Katy & Will on top of Lakes Lookout
Monday, July 16
View all pictures from today's hike HERE

     Rick and I realized we hadn't taken Katy Halliburton, our new pastor of 6 months, and her husband Will out for a hike yet!!  And time is getting short before we leave in August. Since Monday is her day off (and every day is off now for us!!!) we took off to climb to the top of Lakes Lookout - as a way to acquaint them with the Anthony Lakes area from on top, and because we have taken Hikes to Heaven to this spot.
Elephant heads & Lees Peak
     We got an early start due to forecast of afternoon thunderstorms, and the skies opened to more sun and fewer clouds than I anticipated.  It was beautiful!  And the flowers!  Wow!  I will surely miss some of what we saw in trying to name them all, but I shall try:  buttercups, heather, shooting stars, elephant heads, paintbrush, marsh marigolds, red columbine, and lupine.   The recent thunderstorms have dampened everything and the meadows and marshes were very wet!
Shooting Stars
     A good climb as usual,  with some heavy breathing on my part to the top of the peak!  We enjoyed about a half hour on top snacking, taking pictures, and surveying the countryside!  The distant views were a little hazy due to smoke from fires.
Crawfish Meadows
     Coming down, we veered off to explore the Hoffer Lakes area.  So much water right now!  The  bog area between the two lakes was hard to navigate, but we got through.  The meadows were FILLED with elephant heads in this area.  The waterfall down the rocks had more water than I think I have ever seen - especially compared to the last time I was up last fall and it was a mere trickle!
Top of Hoffer Creek Falls
     A GREAT time spent together with new friends in a special playground!  God is good.  All the time!

Elephant Heads and Lakes Lookout from Hoffer Meadows