Wallowas: Lostine, Glacier Lake, Eagle Cap - Oct. 8-10

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RobinB
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Wallowas: Lostine, Glacier Lake, Eagle Cap - Oct. 8-10

Post by RobinB » October 12th, 2015, 11:22 pm

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Opening picture: Glacier Peak over Glacier Lake, from near our campsite.

I spent the weekend rambling around the Wallowas with my dad. From the Two Pan Trailhead just out of Lostine, we walked up the East Fork Lostine Trail to the Lakes Basin, camped at Glacier Lake, and took a dayhike up Eagle Cap and around the (gorgeous!) slopes and streams between Glacier Peak and Glacier Lake.

miah66's also just done an excellent trip report from the same area here.

Thursday

We woke up around four, and for some reason I just wasn't having it. Something about staying up until one the night before reading cookbooks. The nice thing - or: one of the nice things - about going out with my dad is that, probably out of force of habit stretching back to when I was a kid, he always drives. While he suffered through the pre-dawn dark, I slept. And slept. Until we were, like, halfway there. It was marvelous.

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I've been to the Wallowas twice before: once to Ice Lake and the Matterhorn (trip report) and once on a loop around the East and West forks of the Wallowa River (trip report). But I'd never been to the Lostine Trailhead, both times leaving from Wallowa Lake.

I like heading in this way. There's less tourist stuff to drive through than with Wallowa Lake, and the scenery on the way up might be a bit nicer. Plus, it starts a thousand feet higher.

The first few miles are through pretty, if nondescript, forest, with occasional views up the rocky slopes of the Hurricane Divide.

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After a few miles and a few switchbacks, the trail emerges into a beautiful, long, open meadow, and the first views of Eagle Cap.

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This whole area was apparently once filled with a glacier, and it's still dotted with small lakes from when the thing receded.

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Toward the end of the meadow, there's a broad bridge across the East Fork Lostine, and the trail veers east into some trees on the way to Mirror Lake.

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View from the bridge.

After entering the Lakes Basin Management Area, the views open up in every direction.

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West, toward Upper Lake. Does that peak have a name?

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East, toward Glacier Pass.

I don't know why, but I always just end up passing through Mirror Lake. Maybe something to do with the crowds. There were only a few people, and it was getting on toward lunch time, but we decided to keep going and maybe stop at Moccasin.

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Mirror.

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Moccasin.

We ate lunch on the shore of Moccasin Lake just as a few afternoon clouds came by to say hello. Then it was up the sometimes steep trail to Glacier Pass.

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From the pass, the views are fantastic. Back south, toward the Hurricane Creek...

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...and north, toward Glacier Lake and the West Fork Wallowa River.

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I really loved the colors, looking down at the West Fork as it passed from Glacier to Frazier Lake.

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We hung out at the pass for a while, taking pictures and scoping a possible route up Eagle Cap for the next day. Then we descended to Glacier Lake, where we found a fantastic campsite near the eastern shore, up a small hill.

I was feeling weirdly tired - maybe the cookbook's revenge again - but we had a pleasant night eating Indian food and drinking hiking cocktails (brandy or rum, lemonade power, lime, and soda [!] that my dad had carried up). Posh.

Friday

The night was warm but crazy windy. At one point the front of the tent came unmoored from the ground and flapped a foot in the air. It was... startling. But the morning was sunny and, eventually, calm.

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Before heading out for real, I took a quick stroll up a hill just south of us, which afforded nice views of our site...

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...and, of course, the lake. Man the color's pretty.

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Before we'd left, I posted a question here about a possible route from Glacier Lake to Eagle Cap that didn't involve backtracking all the way to Mirror Lake and Horton Pass, where the official-ish trail starts. Almost immediately, Don posted an incredibly helpful map, which we'd printed and brought with us. Thanks, Don!

Vaguely following the map, we backtracked to Glacier Pass, where we veered left, to follow a ridge west, toward Eagle Cap. After reaching a high point right around 9000', we turned left (south), and followed a broad, grassy shelf under Eagle Cap toward an obvious saddle on the ridge between Eagle Cap from Glacier Peak.

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Heading up from the pass in the wind.

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Looking up at Eagle Cap from the ridge.

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Veering south.

As we passed under Eagle Cap, there was a fantastic view to the north of a few glacial tarns, Mirror and Moccasin Lakes, the East Fork Lostine, Hurricane Divide, Hurricane Creek, Hurwal Divide, the Matterhorn... everything.

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Eventually the shelf shifted from grass to big rocks, and the going got momentarily more rough.

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Even that wasn't so bad, though. The only real trouble we had was a scree slope just below the saddle.

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Going up the nearer (north) side of the slope involved maybe twenty feet of pretty steep scree, with occasional large rocks that seemed more than ready to dislodge if given the slightest encouragement. It was never really technical, and definitely not all that dangerous, but it still wasn't fun. We ended up going up the sunny section of this slope:

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But here's the thing: on the further (south) side of the slope, it turned out there was a pretty good use trail, that switchbacked through some bigger, more stable rocks. If you go, definitely go this way.

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Anyway, we eventually got up to the saddle, where there were fantastic views west, over a precipitous drop down to the East Fork of Eagle Creek.

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From the saddle, it was just an easy stroll up Eagle Cap's lightly wooded southern slope. The views continued to be incredible. Here's Glacier Peak and East Fork Eagle Creek:

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When we got to the top, I was astounded to have the place entirely to ourselves. We had lunch (and I had some gummy bears) and were just packing up when a trail runner came ambling up. He proceeded to fiddle with his GPS for a while, then with a tripod for some Summit Selfies. We talked for a while before learning that he was out making tracks for Green Trails, who are apparently planning to release a new map for the area next year. (Yay! The only widely available one now, from GeoGraphics, is just awful.) We talked for a little longer, and it turned out he was Craig Romano - that Craig Romano. What a nice guy!

The views weren't bad either.

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From the top, we could also see a few areas of larches, hiding down around 6000'. One was near where Lake Creek drains into the West Fork Wallowa:

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And the other, bigger one was further away, in what I think was the South Fork Imnaha:

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I'd brought a couple surprise beers, but I was a little worried about the scramble back down from the saddle, so I decided to save it for a little later. As it turned out, I needn't have worried: after finding the trail down the scree slope, it was just smooth sailing.

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Rather than going back the way we came, we decided to head south toward Prospect Lake, following a couple streams as they drained into a glacial tarn and eventually into the small lake just south of Glacier.

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We stopped at the tarn, just a couple hundred feet above Glacier Lake, to rest our legs and finally drink those beers. I rambled around taking pictures.

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Then it was just down one last little stream to the lake, and around the lake's southern and eastern shores back to camp.

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We arrived back at camp with ample time to amble around, filtering water and washing off our legs and being pleasantly inefficient. Sunset started earlier than I thought it should, and our hill - all the hills - turned orange, then red, then purple.

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As soon as the sun had finished its show, the stars came out - a million of them, filling the most improbable corners of the sky. Some day I'll have to learn how to take pictures of that, too.

Saturday

I'm usually sort of anxious to get moving on the last days of trips - something about the lure of warm cars and big burgers and bitter beers. But at the end of the year leaving becomes a little more complicated. I'm never sure how much longer the weather will hold. And so I drag my feet, trying to soak in every last bit.

Eventually, we did have to get moving, so I said goodbye to the lake...

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...and the meadow...

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...and the woods.

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As we neared the car, a few dozen larches - which the light, or my tiredness, had hidden on the way in - appeared in the canopy. A nice treat on the way out.

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The drive out was mostly uneventful. The sun set as we ascended toward the Blue Mountains, and torrents of rain came as we descended to Pendleton. We stopped for dinner and beer at Prodigal Sun, which was just fantastic, and made it home late, me half asleep in the passenger seat, but my dad still somehow wide awake. One of these days, I'll really have to offer to drive. Maybe.

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Bosterson
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Re: Wallowas: Lostine, Glacier Lake, Eagle Cap - Oct. 8-10

Post by Bosterson » October 13th, 2015, 8:30 am

Oooh. :)

Man, I apparently need to start saving my annual Eagle Cap trips for fall!
RobinB wrote: And the other, bigger one was further away, in what I think was the South Fork Imnaha:

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Yes. The rocky cliff in the upper left that turns into dirt is part of Cusick Mountain.
Will hike off trail for fun.

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Double Tree
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Re: Wallowas: Lostine, Glacier Lake, Eagle Cap - Oct. 8-10

Post by Double Tree » October 13th, 2015, 8:35 am

Spectacular photos. And I was just looking for a recent trip report or two. Thank you.
Kelly

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miah66
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Re: Wallowas: Lostine, Glacier Lake, Eagle Cap - Oct. 8-10

Post by miah66 » October 13th, 2015, 9:35 am

It's all so vaguely familiar! :lol: Bravo on that ascension of Eagle Cap, and the CR sighting, and the great sunset pics, aaaaaanndd the camp cocktails. Did you spot any wildlife? The ungulates seemed conspicuously absent. Their prints, and their orange and camo horseback followers, were everywhere. I did happen to spot 2 bighorns, a bald eagle and just missed seeing a bear. I noticed you hung your food...we took a bear canister b/c we weren't sure there would be hanging spots. I want to do a big loop like you did up both forks of the Wallowa river next year.

Hilarious!
RobinB wrote:
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miah66 wrote: Image
Last edited by miah66 on October 13th, 2015, 11:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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ssinfo503
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Re: Wallowas: Lostine, Glacier Lake, Eagle Cap - Oct. 8-10

Post by ssinfo503 » October 13th, 2015, 11:56 am

Great photos. I had been wondering if it is worth such a long drive. This TR seals it.

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vibramhead
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Re: Wallowas: Lostine, Glacier Lake, Eagle Cap - Oct. 8-10

Post by vibramhead » October 13th, 2015, 3:54 pm

Wow! Absolutely gorgeous shots! Excellent TR.
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Born2BBrad
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Re: Wallowas: Lostine, Glacier Lake, Eagle Cap - Oct. 8-10

Post by Born2BBrad » October 13th, 2015, 5:45 pm

Great recap of your trip, especially about the shortcut to Eagle Cap from Glacier Pass.

You said the route would be better on the south side of the slope. Where does that route begin?

Brad
Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.
- Jean Luc Picard

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RobinB
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Re: Wallowas: Lostine, Glacier Lake, Eagle Cap - Oct. 8-10

Post by RobinB » October 13th, 2015, 8:48 pm

Thanks, everyone!
miah66 wrote:Did you spot any wildlife? The ungulates seemed conspicuously absent.
Very little. And the ungulates were weirdly rare for us too! We did though see a whole bunch just off the road on the way home - maybe hiding from hunters?
Born2BBrad wrote:You said the route would be better on the south side of the slope. Where does that route begin?
If you follow the shelf that begins just underneath Eagle Cap just past (south of) the scree slope and saddle, the intersection with the route up the south side should be obvious. Just avoid the urge to sidehill upward, as getting onto the trail from part way up the hill would be tough.

For illustration, my dad's standing on the use trail in the picture below. If you follow that west, you'll be set.

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I hope that helps! It really is a nice walk up.

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miah66
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Re: Wallowas: Lostine, Glacier Lake, Eagle Cap - Oct. 8-10

Post by miah66 » October 14th, 2015, 7:20 am

RobinB wrote:We did though see a whole bunch just off the road on the way home - maybe hiding from hunters?
Yea spotted tons of deer and a herd of elk in the farm fields just outside of Lostine in the middle of the night driving in. They're safer on private property! :lol:
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Craig Romano
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Re: Wallowas: Lostine, Glacier Lake, Eagle Cap - Oct. 8-10

Post by Craig Romano » October 14th, 2015, 8:51 am

Hey Robin-it was great meeting you and your Dad on the top of Eagle Cap. What a day! Loved your trip report and such beautiful photos. I ended up getting 90 miles of trail research in over the 5 days I was there. Can't wait to go back-we'll have the Green Trails team there again in June-so many trails to map. Hope to hike into you again in the near future!

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