This past August we spent a few weeks just outside Joseph, Oregon, at Wallowa Lake, our second visit to this spot. It would have been our third except we cancelled reservations one year when wildfires kept air quality at lousy levels. Nestled into a canyon at the edge of the Eagle Cap Wilderness with mountains on three sides and a gorgeous lake on the fourth, this spot has been a popular seasonal getaway for decades.
The odd combination of very old summer cabins that have been in families for generations mixed with new log cabin-styled houses and lodges used mostly for rentals make for a varied neighborhood. Toss in miniature golf, a few ice cream stands, several souvenir shops, a horse riding outfit, a go-cart track, and the Wallowa Tramway, which takes you up in a metal bucket to the top of Mount Howard (which we did a couple of years ago when we last stayed here) and you have all the necessary ingredients of a bonafide tourist spot.
Other than shopping in a few of the stores, we prefer to head out of town to hike.
We had a great hike along a trail we’ve done before, and then we struck out on one called the Hurricane Creek Trail. We only passed a few people, and the views of the mountain ahead of us were stunning:
You can see the river running at the bottom of the picture – the river was maybe twenty feet across and anywhere from a few inches to a few feet deep, but it looks tiny in this photo. Yep, that’s snow still in that mountain canyon – in mid-August!
We stopped to talk to another hiker, and along came this group of about a half-dozen horses and pack animals and their people. Horses are still everywhere out West.
We crossed the river using rocks as stepping stones on the way in, then on the way out we spotted these logs, positioned perfectly for a makeshift bridge. Bob went first to test it out and when I saw how to navigate it, I followed.
It was a stunning hike, and a beautiful day for it!
Other than the pack horses and mules, we didn’t see much wildlife on the trail, though we did see signs, like this mark on a tree trunk, which looked like bear claw to us amateurs:
And while we chatted with a very nice woman who kindly leashed her dog when we called up the trail to her that we’re allergic, this little Wood Nymph butterfly landed on Bob’s hand to rest.
These pretty butterflies were everywhere. I wondered if they were Monarchs, but a peek at my field guide informed me this one’s a Painted Lady:
For the bigger animals, we were just going to have to wait until we got back to the RV park, where the deer roam through periodically.
The managers told us to shoo them away, and we ended up doing that (believe it or not) but only when we got tired of cleaning up their messes. (Okay, I use the term “we” loosely… I have my sweetheart Bob to thank for our lawn care!)