Lower Wenaha River 4-26-19

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bobcat
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Lower Wenaha River 4-26-19

Post by bobcat » May 3rd, 2019, 6:59 am

As part of my multi-day excursion to the northeast part of the state, I ventured up to Troy and hiked the Wenaha River Trail as far as Crooked Creek, which with the waters running high and swiftly, is as far as you can go on the river trail in the spring anymore: The bridge here was incinerated in the 2015 Grizzly Complex Fire.

This is an undulating walk interspersing lush and brushy flats on the river with cliff traverses and passages along open slopes blooming with balsamroot, desert-parsley, and brodiaea. You start out just above Troy in the Wenaha State Wildlife Area, pass across a section of private land, and then approximately 2 ½ miles later finally enter the Umatilla National Forest.

Ponderosa and balsamroot slope, Wenaha River Trail.jpg
Four rams afeeding, Wenaha River Trail.jpg
Balsamroot slopes, Wenaha River Trail.jpg
River bend, Wenaha River Trail.jpg
Sierra pea (Lathyrus nevadensis), Wenaha River Trail.jpg
Bend in the river, Wenaha River Trail.jpg

It’s four miles from the National Forest boundary to Crooked Creek, which is just inside the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness. I saw bighorn sheep on the rimrock across the river closer to Troy. Also, at the Mill Flat Campground on the west side of Troy, the Wenaha Muzzleloaders were having their convention, blasting off loudly and sending up great puffs of acrid smoke.

Crags above, Wenaha River Trail.jpg
Grizzly Fire damage, Wenaha River Trail.jpg
Hairy clematis (Clematis hirsutissima), Wenaha River Trail.jpg
Brown's peony (Paeonia brownii), Wenaha River Trail.jpg
Cliffs above a bend, Wenaha River Trail.jpg
Arnica gathering, Wenaha River Trail.jpg
Sticky geranium (Geranium viscosissimum), Wenaha River Trail.jpg

Otherwise, it was a quiet hike, with lots of wildflowers to admire. Some gabion work has been done on the trail fairly recently. The Grizzly Fire scorched the valley, so the flats next to the river, while quite brushy, are now unshaded and dominated by blackened snags. There were several trees down across the trail, none presenting serious issues and only a couple necessitating an off-trail detour. Trail groups come down from Spokane to log out the trail – this year’s parties have not arrived yet.

Rock overhang, Wenaha River Trail.jpg
Gopher snake, Wenaha River Trail.jpg
Trumpet lungwort (Mertensia longiflora), Wenaha River Trail.jpg
Site of Crooked Creek Bridge, Wenaha River Trail.jpg
Remains of Crooked Creek Bridge, Wenaha River Trail.jpg

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drm
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Re: Lower Wenaha River 4-26-19

Post by drm » May 4th, 2019, 2:19 pm

Losing the Crooked Creek Bridge is sad because spring and high water is mostly when hikers want to go up there.

justpeachy
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Re: Lower Wenaha River 4-26-19

Post by justpeachy » May 7th, 2019, 6:17 am

After hiking part of the trail recently I called the Pomeroy Ranger Station to ask about that bridge. Because that spot is in wilderness and because the crossing requires a pretty large sturdy bridge, it would have to be constructed off-site and helicoptered in. Expensive. They thought it would be 5-10 years before they would get the funding to make this happen.

Dean has a photo of the old bridge here: http://www.deanmyerson.org/?q=wenaha_1

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drm
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Re: Lower Wenaha River 4-26-19

Post by drm » May 7th, 2019, 7:33 am

Or here is is, taken 5/12/2009.

Image

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retired jerry
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Re: Lower Wenaha River 4-26-19

Post by retired jerry » May 7th, 2019, 7:43 am

I'd have thought the metal framework would have survived

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Re: Lower Wenaha River 4-26-19

Post by justpeachy » May 7th, 2019, 2:01 pm

retired jerry wrote:
May 7th, 2019, 7:43 am
I'd have thought the metal framework would have survived
I read somewhere that the metal framework did survive but was badly damaged by the heat and couldn't be reused for a new bridge, so the FS took it out.

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retired jerry
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Re: Lower Wenaha River 4-26-19

Post by retired jerry » May 7th, 2019, 2:33 pm

that makes sense

without the wood to brace it they probably won't stay in place

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texasbb
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Re: Lower Wenaha River 4-26-19

Post by texasbb » May 7th, 2019, 7:35 pm

Here was the deck as of June 23, 2009, not much more than a month after drm's shot:

Image

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Re: Lower Wenaha River 4-26-19

Post by Siegecow » May 15th, 2019, 10:58 am

Wow, I had last visited the Wenaha River Trail in June 2015! I must have just missed the fire. Here's my bridge pic from back then! Image The creek should be easily fordable once the flow has subsided a little bit, but one will have to catch the now preciously short window of time between the post-melt and pre-scorcher season.

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