Wenaha Wilderness: Mt. Misery Loop

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byoc
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Wenaha Wilderness: Mt. Misery Loop

Post by byoc » June 7th, 2018, 1:15 pm

Did a 3 day, 48 mile loop from Panjab TH > Mt. Misery Trail > Melton Creek Trail > Crooked Creek Trail > Packer's Trail > Smooth Ridge Trail > Mt. Misery Trail > Turkey Creek Trail > Panjab TH. Spent the first night in the Chaparral Basin and the second night at Twin Springs.

It was a great trip. The views and sites along Melton Creek Trail are amazing. I love the Wenaha. It's underfunded and understaffed (significantly more so than other parks), so as usual, some of the trails were barely there, and a lot of the trails were terribly overgrown. Dozens, maybe even hundreds of downed trees to get over. Four knee deep creek crossings. It definitely feels like you're in the wilderness. But also, as usual, we only passed one other couple hiking in 3 days.

The ticks were horrible for about a 3 mile stretch coming down Melton creek trail between 5000 and 3500ft. After that, they really weren't much of a problem.
Attachments
naturalarchmeltoncreek.jpg
Arch looking north on Melton Creek from USFS Archives circa April 1929
mtmisloop3.jpg
Same arch looking north on Melton Creek
naturalarchmeltoncreek2.jpg
Arch looking south on Melton Creek from USFS archives circa April 1929
mtmisloop2.jpg
Same arch looking south on Melton Creek

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texasbb
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Re: Wenaha Wilderness: Mt. Misery Loop

Post by texasbb » June 7th, 2018, 3:15 pm

I love that area! I did a similar loop back in '09: Panjab -> Mt Misery -> Melton Cr -> Crooked Cr -> Wenaha R -> Smooth Ridge -> Mt Misery -> Turkey Creek -> Panjab. I've been wanting for a long time to do Crooked Creek from the top all the way down. Just how brushy is it? In '09, the segment between Melton Cr and the Wenaha was one of the brushiest four miles I've ever walked.

I too love Melton Creek trail's views...some of the best in that area IMO. Here's that arch back in '09:

ImageLooking down canyon

ImageLooking back up canyon

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Re: Wenaha Wilderness: Mt. Misery Loop

Post by byoc » June 7th, 2018, 3:40 pm

Nice! How'd you get back up from the Wenaha to Smooth Ridge? Weller Butte?

Melton Creek is pretty brushy, but it's not as bad as Packer's Ridge. Packer's was decimated by the fire in 2015. The trail is barely there now and it's pretty heavily overgrown with fireweed and actual bushes. It's also the worst area for downed trees.

Last year I hiked north on Crooked Creek. Not all the way to Dunlap Springs/Indian Corral, but close. We got off and blazed a trail up the now-non-existent Grizzly Bear Trail up to Oregon Butte. That was intense. It was more like rock climbing at times than hiking. Anyhow...Crooked Creek is EXTREMELY overgrown north of the turn off for Melton Creek trail. I would bring a machete next time I hike that trail. I'm not even kidding.

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Re: Wenaha Wilderness: Mt. Misery Loop

Post by texasbb » June 7th, 2018, 7:51 pm

byoc wrote:
June 7th, 2018, 3:40 pm
Nice! How'd you get back up from the Wenaha to Smooth Ridge? Weller Butte?
Smooth Ridge Trail goes right up the canyon wall from the Wenaha at Fairview Bar. It does eventually go over Weller Butte, but not up its ridge from the river.
byoc wrote:
June 7th, 2018, 3:40 pm
Last year I hiked north on Crooked Creek. Not all the way to Dunlap Springs/Indian Corral, but close. We got off and blazed a trail up the now-non-existent Grizzly Bear Trail up to Oregon Butte. That was intense. It was more like rock climbing at times than hiking. Anyhow...Crooked Creek is EXTREMELY overgrown north of the turn off for Melton Creek trail. I would bring a machete next time I hike that trail. I'm not even kidding.
That's what I was afraid of. I may have waited too long.

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drm
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Re: Wenaha Wilderness: Mt. Misery Loop

Post by drm » June 8th, 2018, 6:10 am

Sometimes I think that Turkey, Panjab and Mt Misery are the only trails up there that get regular maintenance. I tried Crooked Creek years ago and ran into more difficulty than I was prepared for. It sounds like getting across Crooked Creek where the bridge burned wasn't too bad.

I suppose all those elk aren't so unhappy about the few maintained trails, but I was told some years ago by rangers that they had one trail maintenance team for Wenaha/Tucannon AND the Wallowas.

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Re: Wenaha Wilderness: Mt. Misery Loop

Post by texasbb » June 8th, 2018, 7:19 am

drm wrote:
June 8th, 2018, 6:10 am
Sometimes I think that Turkey, Panjab and Mt Misery are the only trails up there that get regular maintenance. ...

I suppose all those elk aren't so unhappy about the few maintained trails, but I was told some years ago by rangers that they had one trail maintenance team for Wenaha/Tucannon AND the Wallowas.
And I suspect a lot of the Turkey/Panjab/Misery maintenance is probably done unofficially by horsemen. I'm judging by the nature of many of the clear-outs I see up there--not up to the typical standards, focused only on the bits a horse could get around, etc. I think WTA did a little work on Rattlesnake a few years ago, but only a little. Last time I did that trail (2016) it was hard to push through in many spots, both up in the partially burned ponderosa parkland and the stiff brush on the nose of the ridge.

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Re: Wenaha Wilderness: Mt. Misery Loop

Post by byoc » June 8th, 2018, 8:04 am

texasbb wrote:
June 7th, 2018, 7:51 pm
Smooth Ridge Trail goes right up the canyon wall from the Wenaha at Fairview Bar. It does eventually go over Weller Butte, but not up its ridge from the river.
Oh. Right. Yes, it used to go all the way down to Fairview Bar. Not anymore. I don't know when the last time your were down there, but Fairview Bar is pretty much gone. All the little trails that ran off of Packer's and Smooth Ridge down to the Wenaha are gone. I think that area probably got hit worst by the fire in 2015. I've never done the Weller Butte trail, but I've heard that one is mostly gone as well...I mean, you don't really need a trail for that one....just stay on the highest ridge line. I've done Smooth ridge a couple times and never saw the turn off for it. But I've heard you can still find the turn off down at the Wenaha end.

Now Smooth Ridge and Packer's are essentially just one seamless trail that runs down to Crooked Creek. If you look on a map, you'll see two spurs coming off of Packer's down to Crooked Creek. The north spur is gone. Sorta. Only the south spur exists now, but it end up where it used to. About half way down the ridge, it turns north and now it ends up Crooked Creek where the north spur used to end.

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Re: Wenaha Wilderness: Mt. Misery Loop

Post by byoc » June 8th, 2018, 8:07 am

drm wrote:
June 8th, 2018, 6:10 am
Sometimes I think that Turkey, Panjab and Mt Misery are the only trails up there that get regular maintenance. I tried Crooked Creek years ago and ran into more difficulty than I was prepared for. It sounds like getting across Crooked Creek where the bridge burned wasn't too bad.

I suppose all those elk aren't so unhappy about the few maintained trails, but I was told some years ago by rangers that they had one trail maintenance team for Wenaha/Tucannon AND the Wallowas.
I talked to the gal that mans the lookout on Oregon Butte last Summer and she said they only had 4 people to maintain 11 million acres. I doubt their funding situation has improved since then.

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Re: Wenaha Wilderness: Mt. Misery Loop

Post by byoc » June 8th, 2018, 8:24 am

texasbb wrote:
June 8th, 2018, 7:19 am
And I suspect a lot of the Turkey/Panjab/Misery maintenance is probably done unofficially by horsemen. I'm judging by the nature of many of the clear-outs I see up there--not up to the typical standards, focused only on the bits a horse could get around, etc. I think WTA did a little work on Rattlesnake a few years ago, but only a little. Last time I did that trail (2016) it was hard to push through in many spots, both up in the partially burned ponderosa parkland and the stiff brush on the nose of the ridge.
As much as I dislike the hunters who pack in massive amounts of provisions with their horses and mules and leave behind tons of garbage, they are the only reason any of those trails exist. Aside from the trails that are open to motorized vehicles, Panjab, Oregon Butte, Middle Point, and Tucannon get enough day hikers and dog walkers to keep the trails maintained. The rest of the Umatilla NF really is the "wilderness". Which I actually think is pretty cool. If it weren't for rattlesnakes, I wouldn't mind bushwacking at all.

I hiked Rattlesnake about a month ago. The WTA had done some work on the lower section just a week prior. I thought the trail was in pretty good shape. We had to put snow shoes on when we got to Alnus Spring, so I couldn't tell you what the trail is like up there, but that area up there is pretty flat and clear.

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