Wallowa River, West Fork ford

Trip recommendations, current conditions, and other trail related Q&A
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saskia
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Joined: August 2nd, 2018, 3:08 pm

Wallowa River, West Fork ford

Post by saskia » August 2nd, 2018, 4:01 pm

Greetings!

I'm planning to hike the Wallowa River loop starting at Wallowa Lake on the east side, crossing Polaris Pass and then crossing the West Fork of the Wallowa River just past Frazier Lake on Trail 1820. I'll be leaving in mid-August. The new Green Trails map (475SX) shows a ford at the river where Trail 1820 crosses it.

I've seen a few reports from about a year ago indicating the river is fast, deep and difficult to cross. Can someone please give me perspectives on this crossing? I've called the US Forest Service in Joseph, but they don't answer the telephone and they haven't received a reply.

I'd also appreciate any information on loose rock/scree on the east side of Polaris Pass on Trail 1831.

Many sincere thanks in advance,
Saskia

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derwoodynck
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Re: Wallowa River, West Fork ford

Post by derwoodynck » August 2nd, 2018, 7:05 pm

This is what it looked like the morning of 8/2/16 crossing in the other direction toward Frazier Lake.

Image

It was easier to ford than to try and balance on that narrow tree. Water was calf deep and no problem so mid-August this year with the low snow pack shouldn't be an issue.

We didn't hit Polaris Pass so I can't help with that one.

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texasbb
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Re: Wallowa River, West Fork ford

Post by texasbb » August 3rd, 2018, 1:56 pm

I've made that crossing three times; never got my feet wet. Twice in August, once in September. I think two were rock hops, one a log.

Polaris Pass is gorgeous. The west side scree is indeed a little loose, but it's the slo-mo, ease-you-down-a-foot-or-so-on-each-step kind of loose. I think you'd have to work at it to hurt yourself, but it can be nerve-wracking for some. Did I mention it's gorgeous?

saskia
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Re: Wallowa River, West Fork ford

Post by saskia » August 3rd, 2018, 2:43 pm

Thank you both! Very much appreciated

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drm
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Re: Wallowa River, West Fork ford

Post by drm » August 4th, 2018, 11:50 am

I did it once earlier in the summer and it was challenging, but you shouldn't have that problem. But the Wallowas are subject to thunderstorms and it could be an issue for a few hours if an intense one hits in the basin above.

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Bosterson
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Re: Wallowa River, West Fork ford

Post by Bosterson » August 6th, 2018, 12:58 am

I just got back from the Wallowas, and camped at Frazier Lake and did the crossing twice. It's not a ford - you just have to walk up the bank until you find a spot you like to hop across. Our crossing took two hops, as there's a braid in the river.
Will hike off trail for fun.

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