Wallowas - Bowman Copper Creek Loop past Steamboat (Sept 13-

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TwoPaw
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Wallowas - Bowman Copper Creek Loop past Steamboat (Sept 13-

Post by TwoPaw » September 22nd, 2016, 3:31 pm

Timing is often the crucial factor between a stellar backpack and one not so much and the winds were behind my sails on this mid Sept. outing.

Drove out to Eagle Cap Wilderness, up Lostine River Road, and stashed my backpack at Bowman TH. Continued up to Two Pan TH where I parked, then bicycled 3 miles back to Bowman where I retrieved my backpack and locked up my wheels.

About 2:30pm I broke trail up Bowman 1651. Tread was mellow, good, tho a bit dusty from horse traffic - yet not too bad after rains a few days prior. Plenty of day hikers descending on the way up who said there was just one party camped out at Chimney Lake. The way up was cool and pleasant in the afternoon shade. I branched right on Trail 1659 toward Chimney Lake. Instead I stopped and set up camp at Laverty Lakes, which lacks the impressive size of Chimney Lake, yet sits nicely between it's own granite hillside and a wide open view to the east, and was deserted.

A quick dip and I boiled up some water which ended up a bit murky and sudsy despite no suds on the shore. Hmm. Made dinner and strolled up to Chimney Lk. for a look, enjoying the long view up to Eagle Cap on the way back.
LavertyLakes.jpg
Next morning I felt okay. This time I collected water at Laverty's outlet - a trickle. This boiled up crystal clear so I'm not sure what the issue was the night before.
Leaving Laverty Lakes I backtracked to Bowman 1651, turned right, then up and over Wilson Pass, descending into the woods until I reached North Minam Meadows and the junction with Trail 1675/Copper Creek. On a sandy bank of the North Minam River I enjoyed lunch looking over a huge expanse of gorgeous fall grass.
WilsonMeadow.jpg
After lunch, back to work on Trail 1675 to regain all my lost altitude as I ascended south. On the way a 66 year old solo woman backpacker advised me three different parties camped out the night before at Steamboat Lake, my destination. One was a bowhunter family with horses now set up in the Minam Meadows, another was a couple I had already waved to heading north, and herself.
The ascent was long yet there's plenty of fresh water spurting out of springs and creeks. Finally I reach a totally deserted Steamboat Lake. Happily I set up camp, took a dip, made dinner, then slipped into my sleeping bag to watch the light fade. Weather was clear and calm that night; quite cold - down to 25F or so.
Steamboat-with-tent.jpg
Next morning I slept late, snuggled in my bag until the sun finally rose above the ridge line. In this little patch of paradise I decided to stay another night and day hike up the slopes on Steamboat's east side. I had fun navigating to one of the unnamed knobs, clearing out at about 8800ft or so with a terrific view (though my pics hardly do it justice). Immediately below was Catched Two Lake and the varied wonders of the Wallowas; colors and textures making a fine reward for all the effort of getting up there.
Steamboat-from-air.jpg
catched-two-lake.jpg
For variety I took a new route down, backtracking here and there to avoid undue exposure tho nothing serious. Back down at Steamboat Lake everything was still deserted, so I skinny dipped and made dinner.
steamboat-night-water.jpg
Next morning I packed up and continued on 1675 for a terrific few miles of high country trekking. First the ascent to misnamed Swamp Lake.
up-to-swamp1.jpg
up-to-swamp-2.jpg
Then up further past the Granite Trail to a fine 360 view.
swamp-looking-down.jpg
A bit thirsty now I descended until numerous springs appeared and I lunched along a pleasant creek. I was mighty relaxed and a bit sleepy. I noticed a side path heading east and followed it, rounding a curve to suddenly come upon Sky Lake. Though small, Sky Lake is deep and blue and at barely past one I decided to set up camp on a ledge over the lake with a sweeping far off view.
sky-lake.jpg
Again, not a soul in sight. I rinsed off, explored a bit, and read my book. This evening was a good 15 degrees warmer than those prior. Early the next morning I was back on the trail. All was quiet until near Two Pan TH where I encountered some day hikers and bowhunters on horses heading in.

All in all a great backpack. Nights were cold and clear with a mostly full moon. About a thirty mile loop plus the day hike.

Aimless
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Re: Wallowas - Bowman Copper Creek Loop past Steamboat (Sept

Post by Aimless » September 22nd, 2016, 5:55 pm

I've done that loop, but I took a different side trip than your trip up to where you could overlook Catched-Two Lake. It is indeed a very fine backpack. Beautifully scenic and much less visited than the crowded Lakes Basin next to Eagle Cap. I continue to hope that it won't get 'discovered', even though it is already described in guide books and there are glowing trip reports like yours that keep letting that particular cat out of its bag. Thank goodness the Wallowas are so far away from Portland!

justpeachy
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Re: Wallowas - Bowman Copper Creek Loop past Steamboat (Sept

Post by justpeachy » September 22nd, 2016, 7:32 pm

Beautiful! We had planned to do that loop in the summer of 2015 but wildfire smoke blanketing the Wallowas forced us to cancel. Someday we'll do this!

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Bosterson
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Re: Wallowas - Bowman Copper Creek Loop past Steamboat (Sept

Post by Bosterson » September 22nd, 2016, 10:55 pm

That's a well designed loop with the bike shuttle! The NW side is one part of Eagle Cap I still haven't visited, so I should really get out there. Sky Lake looks great! :)
Will hike off trail for fun.

backcracker
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Re: Wallowas - Bowman Copper Creek Loop past Steamboat (Sept

Post by backcracker » September 25th, 2016, 7:39 pm

Nice report TwoPaw. I day hiked up to Catched Two lake first week of Oct. last year. I went over from the Maxwell Lake side and exited the outlet stream. The outlet stream is a pure find your own route. Took me 90 min to descend one mile.

Just returned from Pop lake 9-24/25. One of my top 3-4 all time Wallowa alpine lakes. Your trip report a couple years back put it on my radar. Headed back tomorrow afternoon for day hike to seldom visited Curtis Lake off East Eagle. Hope to ascend the cirque and return via Crater Lake trail. If not it will be an out and back.

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TwoPaw
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Re: Wallowas - Bowman Copper Creek Loop past Steamboat (Sept

Post by TwoPaw » September 26th, 2016, 7:01 am

backcracker wrote: Just returned from Pop lake 9-24/25. One of my top 3-4 all time Wallowa alpine lakes. Your trip report a couple years back put it on my radar. Headed back tomorrow afternoon for day hike to seldom visited Curtis Lake off East Eagle. Hope to ascend the cirque and return via Crater Lake trail. If not it will be an out and back.
Good old Pop Lake, which I discovered from a clue in a Just Peachy report. I dreamed of returning and packing out the debris left there - or hopefully someone already has. Overall this past trip I was impressed by how clean most campsites and user areas were. I think USFS has tightened protocol on pack horse operations and it's helped a lot.

I also have my eye on Little Pop above Pop, and I noticed there's an old trail descending from Pop Lake down into the basin below. I remembered your earlier report when looking down on Catched Two Lake. To do more cross-country I'd need to lighten my pack somewhat.

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bobcat
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Re: Wallowas - Bowman Copper Creek Loop past Steamboat (Sept

Post by bobcat » September 26th, 2016, 7:08 pm

A most marvelous loop: I've looked into it as well but never got around to doing it, so I'm very jealous of your splendid journey!

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MariposaMan
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Re: Wallowas - Bowman Copper Creek Loop past Steamboat (Sept

Post by MariposaMan » September 30th, 2016, 9:28 am

Thanks for the trip report/photos. Glad to hear you had nice weather.

I did a variation of this loop 3 years ago (August)--it's certainly another gem of the Wallowas. The trek from Chimney Lake to Hobo Lake is also worthwhile. From there you can scramble up Lookout Mtn (didn't myself), or continue on to Woods Lake (visible from Hobo).

Catched Two Lake was completely off my radar. After seeing you pic, I might have to add this to my to-do list, or at least the scramble for a view.

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MariposaMan
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Re: Wallowas - Bowman Copper Creek Loop past Steamboat (Sept

Post by MariposaMan » September 30th, 2016, 9:34 am

backcracker wrote:Nice report TwoPaw. I day hiked up to Catched Two lake first week of Oct. last year. I went over from the Maxwell Lake side and exited the outlet stream. The outlet stream is a pure find your own route. Took me 90 min to descend one mile.

Just returned from Pop lake 9-24/25. One of my top 3-4 all time Wallowa alpine lakes. Your trip report a couple years back put it on my radar. Headed back tomorrow afternoon for day hike to seldom visited Curtis Lake off East Eagle. Hope to ascend the cirque and return via Crater Lake trail. If not it will be an out and back.


Backcracker, I'd love to hear about your hike to Curtis Lake. I've eyed it/Krag Mtn on the map for a future visit.

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