East Eagle - Imnaha Loop Attempted - July 3rd - 5th 2017 -

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bwells1989
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Joined: June 16th, 2017, 4:16 pm

East Eagle - Imnaha Loop Attempted - July 3rd - 5th 2017 -

Post by bwells1989 » July 15th, 2017, 12:38 pm

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Horton Pass below Eagle Cap.
We also followed the route described in Douglas Lorain's Backpacking Oregon. However, the snowpack this July 2017 prevented us from pushing further than Moccasin Lake. Therefore the trip turned into an out & back from East Eagle Trailhead to Mirror Lake (~27 miles).

For more details on our specific gps route see: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/recor ... irror-lake

or to see our trip video, check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9O4jPRtO5y0
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Checking out the pack weight with full water.
After flying into Boise from Detroit, we spent the night in Baker City and headed off to East Eagle Trailhead on the quickest route per google maps. This also turned out to be the steepest, sketchiest, and most narrow route as well (we took the route suggested in Lorain's book on the way back out).
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Turning onto Sparta, 1st gravel road off Route 86.
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Cows on roads everywhere.
After arriving at the trailhead, we filled out the free permit with a list of our expected camp sites and headed off on East Eagle Trail 1910 with an expected destination of Hidden Lake for night 1.
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100% snow free trails (except few creeks still covered) all the way to Horton Pass/Frasier Pass Junction.
Our hopes of getting across East Eagle Creek on the Hidden Lake Trail were dashed by freezing, rapid, thigh high water. We decided to defer camp to Horton Pass/Frasier Lake Junction.
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Rough East Eagle Creek Ford.
When we reached the Junction just below Horton Pass (~9.8mi due to trail scrambling) we set up camp just off the trail near the junction. The site had a fire ring, several small creeks for water, and open mountain views galore.
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Camp Night 1
We attacked Horton Pass early in the morning, enjoying the last few green spots of our route.
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Creek below Horton.
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Little ways up Horton Pass. No Snow.
Not too long up the pass we ran into pure snow. We threw on our K-10 spikes and pushed through. The snow was concrete with very few postholing. The accent + snow x sun = tired hikers.
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Eagle Creek Headwaters. Below last few switchbacks of Horton Pass.
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Last sketchy pitch below Horton Pass. 1st use of ice axes.
We made it to the top of the pass with smiles on our faces (~12.5mi), thinking the worst was over. We ignorantly glissaded down the 1000 ft to the lakes basin. This was a mistake, given the snow I wish we would've headed back after summiting the pass and switched to the Elkhorn Crest Trail for the rest of our trip.
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Horton Pass below Eagle Cap.
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Lakes Basin from Horton Pass. Mirror & Moccasin Lakes are clearly snow covered.
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Lakes Basin trail conditions summed up.
After reaching the Lakes Basin, reality kicked in and by the time we got to Moccasin Lake we decided we should turn around. Our reasons for ending here were mainly due to not knowing the conditions of the rest of the loop. There was so much snow and we were unsure if Glacier Pass would be even sketchier than Horton. We decided we would rather deal with the snow covered pass we knew we could at least get down and vowed to return on a much more enjoyable snow free time of year.

We backtracked toward Mirror Lake and found seemingly the only melted out site in the basin. We would tackle Horton Pass again in the morning.
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Mirror Lake Camp
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The nightmare back up Horton Pass.
We ended up tackling Horton Pass in the morning and pushing all the way back to the trailhead the same day. Our intentions were to get back as soon a possible to take on the more melted out Elkhorn Crest Trial.

All in all, this was a crazy place to see with all the snow. I don't think many people attempt to see Eagle Cap in these conditions, and for that reason I think it was very cool. There were a few times where I thought we bit off more than we could chew and I might've been right.

I would not recommend inexperienced backpackers do this route with this much snow cover. At least not all the way up the pass. And even if you are experienced, I wouldn't recommend going on further past the top of Horton Pass. I personally thought the basin was still very beautiful covered in snow, but its sort of sad not seeing the water as this would've boosted our spirits and rewarded us after getting over the pass.

Anyway, hope this helps those contemplating this area in the next month or so.

We will be back Eagle Cap. Your clever snow tricks can't keep us out forever.

Regards,
Brad W.
Last edited by bwells1989 on July 16th, 2017, 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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retired jerry
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Re: East Eagle - Imnaha Loop Attempted - July 3rd - 5th 2017

Post by retired jerry » July 15th, 2017, 2:29 pm

thanks for the report, things are melting out there

36.8 pounds?

36.8??

for one night???

I think you could do a bit of a weight reduction

(just screwing with you, I used to weigh that much but I've gradually reduced to about half that)

bwells1989
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Joined: June 16th, 2017, 4:16 pm

Re: East Eagle - Imnaha Loop Attempted - July 3rd - 5th 2017

Post by bwells1989 » July 15th, 2017, 3:26 pm

retired jerry wrote:thanks for the report, things are melting out there

36.8 pounds?

36.8??

for one night???

I think you could do a bit of a weight reduction

(just screwing with you, I used to weigh that much but I've gradually reduced to about half that)


Haha, I know. Yeah, we thought we would be on the trail for at least 4 nights, but ended up being only 2. Axes and spikes didn't help either. Not exactly sure what my base weight was without water and food. Sometimes its the little things that add up.

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texasbb
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Re: East Eagle - Imnaha Loop Attempted - July 3rd - 5th 2017

Post by texasbb » July 16th, 2017, 1:04 pm

Hey, thanks for the report! I'm still planning a West Eagle trip the 24th-28th, and seeing conditions 3 weeks prior is helpful. I'd love to see the Lakes Basin that white someday...not sure I'd write Horton into the trip. :)

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drm
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Re: East Eagle - Imnaha Loop Attempted - July 3rd - 5th 2017

Post by drm » July 17th, 2017, 10:31 am

Seems like east Lostine would be the best way to see the Lakes Basin under snow, especially if first half was melted.

I'm going to try the "Bosterson" route from Cornucopia to the cirque below Hawkins in a couple of weeks. Stuff melts fast this time of year.

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Bosterson
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Re: East Eagle - Imnaha Loop Attempted - July 3rd - 5th 2017

Post by Bosterson » July 17th, 2017, 12:24 pm

bwells1989 wrote:Image
Wow! I'm expecting to be out that way in 2 weeks.... Last few times I've gone out there at the end of July/early August, there's been no snow at all! :shock:

drm wrote: I'm going to try the "Bosterson" route from Cornucopia to the cirque below Hawkins in a couple of weeks. Stuff melts fast this time of year.
Dean, are you going here? Looking forward to hearing about it, I loved that spot. If the snow is gone, I recommend going up Cusick! Ben and I are planning to go up that bump in the ridge in the middle of the photo in a few weeks. :)

Image
Will hike off trail for fun.

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drm
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Re: East Eagle - Imnaha Loop Attempted - July 3rd - 5th 2017

Post by drm » July 17th, 2017, 1:39 pm

Bosterson wrote:Dean, are you going here? Looking forward to hearing about it, I loved that spot. If the snow is gone, I recommend going up Cusick!
I'm going with a Wallowas newbie, an experienced backpacker who has never been to the Wallowas. So I'm not sure if we will use free time to climb Cusick or go over Hawkins and try to get to Glacier Pass. The snow probably won't be all gone, but for those open slopes on Cusick, maybe. We will take spikes.

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greglief
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Re: East Eagle - Imnaha Loop Attempted - July 3rd - 5th 2017

Post by greglief » July 17th, 2017, 3:26 pm

Thank you for the report and photos. The photo from Horton Pass looking down upon the snow-covered Lakes Basin is particularly striking (at least to me). :)
Greg Lief
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