Page 1 of 3

Eagle Cap: Cached at Cached Lake

Posted: August 6th, 2019, 8:03 am
by BurnsideBob
Howdy fellow Oregon Hikers. We visited the area July 25-29, driving via Medical Spring and USFS 66 to Main Eagle/Boulder Park and departing via West Eagle trail head and USFS 77. After reading so many reports about poor road conditions, we were surprised to find these roads recently graded and in good shape. The section of USFS 77 between Main Eagle and West Eagle remains the roughest and it did have two shallow washouts from blocked culverts, but even it was tame and passable by any passenger vehicle. Washboard was minimal and the biggest obstacles were free range cattle. We encountered little traffic, mostly USFS vehicles. We weren’t the only people out there—huckleberry pickers were scattered about, a half dozen hiker rigs were at each trail head, and a few RV campers were making use of the campgrounds near both trailheads. Roads are good! Drive slow and safe!!!

Day 1. 25 July 2019. Main Eagle TH.

We set boot-to-trail at Main Eagle/Boulder Park Trail Head 3:45 PM under warm conditions. The trail was in good shape, save for a couple blow downs, creek crossings were manageable, and all trail junctions were signed. Flowers were everywhere, and in places the trail was overwhelmed by luxuriant, exuberant growth. You could feel that sub-tropical humid lushness.

IMG_3037 - Copy.JPG
New sign at trailhead.
IMG_3043 - Copy.JPG
IMG_3048 - Copy.JPG
"New" bridge not like the old bridge.
Our expectation of reaching Cached Lake quickly evaporated. The warmth, our pack weights, our sea-level slug bodies brought the realization we would do well with a campsite at Main Eagle Meadows 4 miles in. Which we did, and a good call it was, as we were able to set up camp, cook and eat dinner, and relax prior to a colorful sunset and darkness.
IMG_3050 - Copy.JPG
First Night's home.
People? One hiker exiting from Looking Glass Lake.

Day Two, July 26. Cached Lake. Are we there yet?

The next morning brought cooler conditions and fewer insects. We continued North under achingly blue skies thru forest and luxuriant flower meadow to the Eagle Lake Trail, marked by a venerable sign on an equally venerable post.
IMG_3057 - Copy.JPG
Un-named cascade.
IMG_3060 - Copy.JPG
Approaching Needlepoint.
IMG_3064 - Copy.JPG
Eagle Lake Trail Junction.
Turning left, we continued to Cached Lake, where we took advantage of a campsite that included a snowbank. My, it is nice having cold beverages at a lake you have to yourself! We slugged about after getting camp set, our only activity after critiquing all the Lake’s campsites and fish population was locating the departure point of the legendary Trail No. 1935 to Pop Lake and the Minam River. In this regard we did find a small duck or cairn, immediately behind which was an apparent trail tread. “Aha!! “ We thought. However, this trail tread was covered by blow down and couldn’t be found a couple hundred yards further on.

People? None.

To be continued.

Re: Eagle Cap: Cached at Cached Lake

Posted: August 6th, 2019, 8:22 am
by BurnsideBob
Day Three, July 27. The Quest for Lost Trail 1935.

The next morning we leisurely enjoyed our coffee and it wasn’t until the day had warmed that we set out to search for trail 1935. From the previous day’s sleuthing we knew not to cross the little creek and from the map we knew the creek lead to a cirque, from which the trail followed a side drainage East.

The terrain proved to be rock outcrops interspersed with boggy, marshy meadow, heavily frequented by elk. Shortly we reached the cirque, found the obvious east trending drainage, and immediately found a trail.
IMG_3074 - Copy.JPG
Picking up the Trail.
This we followed past a small pond, a long lineal meadow, and a rocky slope above a north/south gully.
IMG_3076 - Copy.JPG
The Long Meadow.
IMG_3078 - Copy.JPG
Cached Lake (bottom left).

Here the trail turned left 90 degrees and ran up the hill a ways before turning 55 degrees or so left again, to follow another gently sloping ramp up.
IMG_3083 - Copy.JPG
Left turn upslope--Departure Point for Needlepoint.
IMG_3085 - Copy.JPG
Tread under Trees
This last segment brought us close to the low point of the ridge where we lost the trail—for in looking up at the ridge, we failed to notice that the very faint tread dropped below some clumps of trees and rocks.

No matter—we gained the ridge top, from which we could see the other side was snow covered.
IMG_3087 - Copy.JPG
The Other Side.
Just to our right, however, the snow ended, and there was a trail tread heading down, although it, too, disappeared under the snow. Fearful that the snow might be too hard to kick steps in, we stayed on rock and made our way down to the long, arcing bench that goes all the way to Pop Lake. Looking back we could see a second trail tread coming off the ridge crest further west. Below this second crossing a clearly discernible trail resumed, which we followed to Pop Lake.
IMG_3097 - Copy.JPG
Trail Crossing (Upper Left)
Now during all this we saw no human sign—no foot prints, candy bar wrappers, and such, unless you want to count a very rusty can of the size fruit cocktail used to come in.
IMG_3098 - Copy.JPG
Can Cairn
So when we were 2/3rds of the way down to Pop Lake we were surprised to hear a voice from the ridge crest above us. And there was a guy up there, wearing a red pack, pushing rocks down a chute. The country between his location and the 1922 trail isn’t too difficult, but, nonetheless, rock roller guy was a long ways from any access.
IMG_3107v2 - Copy.JPG
Rock Roller Guy

We followed the trail down to Pop Lake’s shore—a gorgeous, deep, blue-green lake circled with trees on three sides. On the west side, where the trail hits the lake, there is an “illegal” campsite with fire ring. (Illegal as in too close to the lake).
IMG_3120 - Copy.JPG
The Lake
Susan set up to fish—caught a 9-10” brookie on her first cast. I, meanwhile, went around the lake’s north side, following the faint trail, which continued past the lake and down the outlet drainage. Not having the time to follow the trail, I climbed the knoll East of the lake. The knoll’s top is flat and has an improved campsite with a nice fire ring, a four person rock bench on one side, two rock settees, and a cook table with seat on the other. This campsite was fully legal, very large, level, but lacked shade. However, due to its knoll-top location, it is not visible from the trail or lake shore, so is stealthy if you are into stealth.
IMG_3119 - Copy.JPG
Knoll Campsite

By the time I returned to Susan, she had caught 7 more fish. We snacked, packed up, and followed the trail back to the ridge crest, easy now that a refreshing breeze kept us cool. Up top, we kick stepped our way up the snow to the more westerly ridge crossing. On the other side we picked up the segment of trail we had missed when going the other way, successfully following it all the way back to the cirque.

Looking at the topo map and sat photos, it appears a route more east of the creek-to-the-cirque could avoid the marshy areas we encountered. I looked for any sign of such a route as we followed the trail down into the cirque, but, seeing none, we followed an elk path along the creek to the 1922 trail and back to camp.

Not only does trail 1935 exist, we were able to follow it 80% of the way from Cached Lake to Pop Lake. The segment where we could not find the tread was between Cached Lake and the cirque. According to a post by roninor several years ago, Trail 1935 was never maintained and was originally a sheep trail. We saw no signs of trail work or improvement except for one rock, which appeared to have been bored and blasted, and a couple shallow switchbacks—no water bars, no cuts on branches, no cut logs.

People? Rock Roller Guy plus two groups of three people who passed by our camp. The first group had come over Wonker Pass. The second group appeared in the brush below our camp and asked where the trail was. “Keep going” we said, “Its right in front of you.” Since we had not seen them on our Pop Lake adventure, we guessed they had done Needlepoint and were returning to a base camp below us.

To be continued.

Re: Eagle Cap: Cached at Cached Lake

Posted: August 6th, 2019, 9:06 am
by BurnsideBob
Day Four, July 28. Needlepoint or Cached Lake/Trail Creek Pass?

Since summiting Needlepoint would be both hard and retrace part of yesterday’s trip, we wussed out and took the 1922 trail over the pass into Trail Creek. This gave us a great view of Wonker Pass, which had some snow. We followed the 1922 trail to the Big Switchback where it leaves the ridge to descend to Trail Creek. Turning around we went cross country across the Lunar Plains to see if we could look into Arrow and Heart Lakes. We could.
IMG_3157 - Copy.JPG
The Pass.
IMG_3165 - Copy.JPG
The Lunar Plains.
IMG_3173 - Copy.JPG
Arrow Lake
IMG_3174 - Copy.JPG
Heart Lake
Back at camp by noon, we fidgeted about. It was too warm in the sun, too cool in the shade, and no cold beverages as our little in-camp snow bank had gone.
IMG_3132 - Copy.JPG
Cached at Cached Lake.
Finally, we decided to move back to Main Eagle Meadows, as this would give us an easy, short hike in the morning before our long drive home.

People? Two OSU students doing the Cached, Wonker Pass, Echo lake loop and at least 20 campers at Main Eagle Meadow.

Day Five, July 29. Down and out and the Long Drive Home.

The night was brilliantly starry and very moist. Come morning everything was soaked including our tent and bags, but the dew on our legs kept us cool as we made our way back to Main Eagle TH. Some stretches of this trail segment wind through old growth trees, and it was a pleasure to walk on a trail tread of needles and duff after so many miles of eroded granite cobbles.

People? We met three day hikers and a mom/teenage son pair on their way up.
IMG_3192 - Copy.JPG
The Trail Home
To keep things new and different we drove over to West Eagle TH and then out via USFS 77 rather than retracing USFS 66 back to Medical Spring,. These roads are in great condition although the segment between Main Eagle and West Eagle does have a couple shallow washouts due to blocked culverts—but even a low clearance vehicle can easily get thru.


Re: Eagle Cap: Cached at Cached Lake

Posted: August 6th, 2019, 9:38 am
by Webfoot
Pack not heavy enough? Add a lawn chair. :mrgreen:

Re: Eagle Cap: Cached at Cached Lake

Posted: August 6th, 2019, 10:09 am
by Bosterson
20 people in Main Eagle Meadows?!? When I did a Cached > Wonker loop in 2014 from Main to West Eagle (and then back on the nonexistent Fake Creek Trail), we started going through Main Eagle and saw zero people until Wonker Pass, I think, and even then didn't actually encounter anyone until Echo Lake. I've always found the S/SW side of the Wallowas to be far less crowded - let's hope that's not changing! :shock:

Great trip, it's very nice out there. The view from Needle Point is quite nice if you get out that way again.

Re: Eagle Cap: Cached at Cached Lake

Posted: August 6th, 2019, 10:27 am
by retired jerry
I can't get too much of that alpine scenery, nice!

Re: Eagle Cap: Cached at Cached Lake

Posted: August 6th, 2019, 2:22 pm
by justpeachy
Great trip report! Having camped at Cached Lake once and wondered about the trail to Pop Lake, it was interesting to hear about your trek there. Beautiful photos!

Re: Eagle Cap: Cached at Cached Lake

Posted: August 6th, 2019, 4:25 pm
by cunningkeith
Thanks for the great TR. How were the mosquitoes? Could you hang outside without getting swarmed too badly?

Re: Eagle Cap: Cached at Cached Lake

Posted: August 6th, 2019, 5:23 pm
by BurnsideBob
Thanks, all, for your kind words.
IMG_3102 - Copy.JPG
Little Pop Lake.
cunningkeith, the mosquitos were annoying and we did use 15% deet repellant, which was very effective.

justpeachy, I very much enjoyed your trip report which greatly piqued my interest in the 1935 trail.
The Famous Duck
Bosterson, we were very surprised with the number of people when we returned to Main Eagle Meadow, especially after having had the place to ourselves the first night. The uppermost camp, just above the end of the meadow, had three 3-6 person tents in it but no one home. We had barely dropped our packs at the site where the Lookinglass Trail fords the creek than a llama packer party of 7 came down the trail. They camped upstream of us somewhere. The lowest camp had a large group in it--we never saw all of them but there were 4 pre-teen to early teen kids running about like swarming bees. There were two vehicles besides ours at the TH when we went in, 8 when we leaft.

Webfoot, we HAD to take a lawn chair because the first reference we ever saw to Pop Lake was an account of meeting three retired guys carrying lawn chairs coming out of Pop. So a bit of homage to those who have gone before us. That and the 70's lawn chairs are light and more comfortable than backpacker chairs, which we find too low and slouchy. Plus my Ridge Rest pad fits snugly into the chair frame, making it padded, warm, and skeeter-bite proof. I carried a bear canister which doubles as my chair, but I sneak a sit on Susan's chair when she's mosying about. Don't tell her!

RetiredJerry, this was our first trip to the south side of the Eagle Cap and we liked the experience a lot.
IMG_3128 - Copy.JPG
Kicking steps.
Happy trails,


Re: Eagle Cap: Cached at Cached Lake

Posted: August 7th, 2019, 3:56 am
by Webfoot
BurnsideBob wrote:
August 6th, 2019, 5:23 pm
That and the 70's lawn chairs are light and more comfortable than backpacker chairs, which we find too low and slouchy.
How much does that one weigh? Maybe I should get one. :) I think I know what you mean by "slouchy"—I need back support and many portable chairs are useless for me.