Another report from the Wallowas: Ice Lake & the Matterhorn

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pdxflowergirl
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Another report from the Wallowas: Ice Lake & the Matterhorn

Post by pdxflowergirl » September 10th, 2011, 2:22 pm

Tuesday, 9/6/2011: Portland to Ice Lake - (330 mi + ~8 mi)
Nat [Bosterson] and I left Portland around 6:30am and set out from the Wallowa Lake trailhead around 1pm (after a brief stop for a huckleberry milkshake at Mad Mary's in Joseph and a breakfast burrito from the cafe across the street). The milkshake/burrito combo was a terrible pre-hike meal that I will never repeat. Being a hiking machine (and having eaten a more sensible lunch), we agreed that Nat should go ahead and he would wait for me at the creek crossing. He arrived at the junction with Ice Lake trail about 30 minutes ahead of me. We crossed the West Fork of the Wallowa River together and then he went ahead again. This time, he made it to Ice Lake about 90 minutes ahead of me. Had I given him the lighter with the stove, then dinner would have been ready upon my arrival. Alas, it turned out that dinner was not necessary as the milkshake/burrito combo was still abating my need to eat. We set up camp at an established site along the east shore of the lake. I was disappointed to see several spots where recent campfires had been made despite the sign stating they are prohibited. After enjoying the sunset, we retired for an early night after a long day's journey. Only saw one other group camping at the creek just before Ice Lake. And there were some resident deer who walked through our campsite.

Wednesday, 9/7/2011: Matterhorn & Sacajawea
After a leisurely morning of eating breakfast and watching mountain goats, we headed up to the Matterhorn. Nat's time was around 90 minutes and mine was close to three hours. Keep in mind that I stopped for lots of breaks and picture-taking! Just as I was approaching the summit, frozen rain started to fall. It felt kind of refreshing until the wind picked up and then it was just cold. I checked in with Nat before he headed off to summit Sacajawea (he will have more to report on this part). Not feeling comfortable with scrambling around gendarmes and the ever-changing weather, I stuck around the Matterhorn's summit to enjoy the outstanding views of Hurricane Divide, Eagle Cap and the surrounding sea of peaks. After almost two hours at the summit, I started to make my way back down to Ice Lake...very, very slowly. Looking out for Nat along the ridgeline (apparently the wrong one) or boot-skiing down scree slopes, I saw no sign of him until nearing Ice Lake. He was already back at the campsite awaiting my return! Actually, he had been back for several hours and was starting to plan his search and rescue mission to find me. Fortunately he spotted me along the lakeshore and knew I had returned safely. That evening, a few more campers arrived. One group found a spot up on the slope above the creek. The other group, unfortunately, camped about 100 yds away from us. I say unfortunately because they ended up being quite loud until my ibuprofen PM kicked in around 11pm. The stars were plentiful and I wish we could have left off the rainfly, but overnight showers seemed like a definite possibility.

Thursday, 9/8/2011: the journey back...
After breakfast and more goat-watching, we packed up and started the hike back down to Wallowa Lake. Passed a group of tourists on horseback, a few dayhikers, and one backpacker. This time Nat beat me to the river crossing by 40 minutes. However, I redeemed myself by arriving only 20 minutes after him back to the car - woohoo! We stopped in Enterprise for a victory beer at Terminal Gravity. I especially enjoyed soaking my blistered heel in the small creek by their house. Smoke obscured Mt. Hood views driving through the Gorge. Was back in Portland by 6:45pm. Another spectacular trip in the Wallowas...it never disappoints!

West Fork Wallowa Trail
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Ice Lake Trail
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Ice Lake
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mountain goats out for their morning walk
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on the way up to Matterhorn
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cairns
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Hurricane Divide
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Matterhorn summit
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some cool sedum and lichen
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me with Eagle Cap in the background (note sunshine on other peaks but not Matterhorn!)
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Nat heading off to summit Sacajawea
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pano of Hurricane Divide and Sacajawea
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pano of Eagle Cap
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making my way back down to Ice Lake
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some very pink scarlet gilia
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Nat waiting back at the campsite (look for red dot along the shoreline)
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Nat's backcountry gourmet dinner
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heading back across the river
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and down along the West Fork Wallowa River trail
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Terminal Gravity - Nat with his victory beer (did I mention he made it over to Sacajawea in 30 minutes?)
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view from the top of Matterhorn (recommend selecting 1080p option)
Kam

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BrianEdwards
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Re: Another report from the Wallowas: Ice Lake & the Matterh

Post by BrianEdwards » September 10th, 2011, 2:55 pm

Some of the best shots I've seen of the Wallowas, nice job
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dayhiker
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Re: Another report from the Wallowas: Ice Lake & the Matterh

Post by dayhiker » September 10th, 2011, 5:48 pm

Yes, nice report

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Crusak
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Re: Another report from the Wallowas: Ice Lake & the Matterh

Post by Crusak » September 10th, 2011, 7:33 pm

Excellent pics and report. It looks like you had the best of both worlds on that trip - hiking with a friend, and hiking in solitude.
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Re: Another report from the Wallowas: Ice Lake & the Matterh

Post by Waffle Stomper » September 10th, 2011, 10:33 pm

Another great trip report. Looks like the two of you make a great team.
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Re: Another report from the Wallowas: Ice Lake & the Matterh

Post by Peder » September 10th, 2011, 10:58 pm

Great report and fantastic pictures. Thank you for sharing - it looks as if you had a wonderful trip (even with the pre-hike meal).
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Re: Another report from the Wallowas: Ice Lake & the Matterh

Post by Bosterson » September 11th, 2011, 8:28 am

I'm not sure how much I can add to Kam's report. I didn't have a camera when I took off for Sacajawea, so there are no pictures. (If only I'd known Kam had two cameras with her!) For details of the Matterhorn to Sacajawea route, check out Matt's trip from about three weeks ago - I thought there was a TR on here but haven't been able to find it, so check out their blog post for a map and pictures and stuff. You can see the route to Sacajawea behind me in the picture below, following the ridge to the unnamed peak 9775 (its elevation) with the bits of snow, and then to Sacajawea, the brown one at the far left.
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For me, I thought the Matterhorn to Sacajawea part was a blast. There is some definite scrambling involved, and it's probably not for the inexperienced or faint of heart due to the route's proximity to some pretty serious slopes you wouldn't want to fall down. Going down the north side of the Matterhorn to the saddle between it and peak 9775, you end up skirting the edge of the east face of the Matterhorn, which is actually a decent cliff face. After peak 9775, you traverse along a rocky ridge towards Sacajawea and have to go around a bunch of rock gendarmes - very fun and not too hard, but perhaps trickier if you're not comfortable climbing around on loose, exposed rock. After that, a "trail" appears in the ridgeline that takes you up to Sacajawea, where there's a summit register in a can hidden in some rocks.

Going back, I followed Matt's route and retraced my steps to the top of peak 9775, then headed down its northeast ridge to a saddle, then straight down a huge sandy scree field, which was kind of like running down an enormous, rocky sand dune. This turned into some goat trails (and I actually saw goats at the bottom!), and after dumping all the sand out of my shoes, I followed a nice creek back down to Ice Lake. (I made sure to sample the water in the creek - delicious snowmelt.)

I'm not sure on mileages - the blog reports it as 1.7 to Matterhorn and 1.5 from there to Sacajawea - I got up to the Matterhorn summit in around 1:15, but then it only took me 30 minutes to get to Sacajawea (though I move really fast over rocky ridges, and was going sort of at a trot...), and about an hour from Sacajawea back to Ice Lake (you go down that scree slope fast).

All in all, great views and a really super fun off trail/scramble route on rock. Highly recommended for those who are competent.
Will hike off trail for fun.

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Re: Another report from the Wallowas: Ice Lake & the Matterh

Post by fettster » September 12th, 2011, 8:06 pm

This part of the range has a unique look compared to the rest. You had some interesting lighting too, well captured! I'm not sure which would be a favorite.

How is the route up to the Matterhorn summit? Pretty solid footing or some loose rock and dust? Are there a lot of camp sites at Ice Lake? How did you know about Mad Mary's? My stomach is telling me I could go for a stop there right about now!

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Re: Another report from the Wallowas: Ice Lake & the Matterh

Post by pdxflowergirl » September 13th, 2011, 5:42 pm

fettster wrote:How is the route up to the Matterhorn summit? Pretty solid footing or some loose rock and dust? Are there a lot of camp sites at Ice Lake? How did you know about Mad Mary's? My stomach is telling me I could go for a stop there right about now!
The route up to the Matterhorn is dry and dusty with lots of loose scree. Probably not the most dog-friendly path. I saw two guys with their dogs, all four of them looked exhausted. But I think it's because they did it as a dayhike.

There are several established sites near and around Ice Lake. Since horses are allowed on that trail, there are some larger group sites.

Nat had stopped at Mad Mary's before to take advantage of their free wi-fi. Note that they no longer serve sandwiches or hot food (unless it's in the form of hot fudge on top of a sundae). That's how I ended up across the street with the ridiculously-sized breakfast burrito that was enough food for a family of four. Anyway, the huckleberry milkshake was delicious. Next time I would plan to stop there after the hike :P
Kam

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Re: Another report from the Wallowas: Ice Lake & the Matterh

Post by fettster » September 13th, 2011, 8:59 pm

pdxflowergirl wrote:Anyway, the huckleberry milkshake was delicious. Next time I would plan to stop there after the hike :P
For some reason I always have a craving for chocolate+dairy after a hike or backpack. I bet huckleberry+dairy would hit the spot too!

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