Ice Lake and the Matterhorn July 29-31, 2018

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justpeachy
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Ice Lake and the Matterhorn July 29-31, 2018

Post by justpeachy » August 10th, 2018, 10:21 am

Greg and I have been wanting to do the hike to Ice Lake for quite awhile and we finally made it happen this summer.

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Sunday morning we parked at the Wallowa Lake Trailhead and got started 9:40am.

Passing the wilderness boundary:

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Occasionally we had a good view of the river:

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Stopping to admire the peaks above:

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After hiking for 90 minutes and 2.9 miles we reached the junction with the Ice Lake Trail:

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We crossed the river on this log bridge:

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There used to be a much bigger bridge at this crossing but it was wiped out in 2011. Downstream of the current bridge is a mess of logs and trees and I think maybe parts of the old bridge are in this mess:

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The trail switchbacks up through a grassy meadow:

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We saw some burnt trees from the 2014 West Fork Fire:

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We were pleasantly surprised by all the wildflowers we saw, which lasted pretty much the whole way to Ice lake:

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One of the waterfalls on Adam Creek:

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We continued climbing. Thank goodness for the numerous switchbacks and the well-graded trail, which made the elevation gain more bearable:

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We passed another waterfall.

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At 5.7 miles we crossed a gurgling creek in a beautiful meadow. We stopped to rest and filter water:

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From the meadow we could see the slope up which the trail would soon be switchbacking:

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And soon enough we were up there looking back down at the meadow:

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The higher we got, the more impressive things looked:

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Unfortunately the trail is showing signs of heavy abuse here. Every single switchback has at least one eroded shortcut :x

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We paused to shake our heads at the use of quotation marks on this sign:

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After nearly eight miles we reached the lake!

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The campsites are to the left:

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Since it was Sunday afternoon and the weekend crowd had cleared out, we had plenty to choose from. We found one we liked and called it good. We were too tired to explore around and find the "perfect" campsite. Besides, this one had a pretty good view.

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We went down to the shore and enjoyed the cool water.

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This is a great swimming lake and Greg did just that.

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There were even some wildflowers (including heather!) blooming along the lake near our campsite:

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We made dinner and enjoyed watching the lake:

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We crawled into the tent before 8 to escape the mosquitoes. It never got very cold overnight, which was weird since we were at such a high elevation. Monday morning was gorgeous and as soon as I got out of the tent I grabbed my camera and started taking photos.

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We ate breakfast and hit the trail, heading off for the Matterhorn. From the east side of the lake we had a view of our destination, the white hump up there:

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We crossed Adam Creek and turned left to follow the trail along the north shore of the lake.

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The wildflowers were beautiful!

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We left the lake and started climbing steeply:

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This hardy tree made a go of it for a long time, but didn't make it. It's still pretty, though:

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More wildflowers:

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We got high enough that we could look down on Ice Lake:

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By now we were well above treeline:

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That's the Matterhorn on the right:

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Looking back down at where we've been:

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There was a tarn way below the trail. We didn't go down there because we didn't want to have to climb back up to the trail:

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Almost there! You can see the trail as it enters the granite area of the mountain:

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It's hard to tell from this picture, but this side of the Matterhorn is actually riddled with user trails:

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And then we were at the top! This is the second-tallest peak in the Wallowa Mountains. (Sacajewa is the tallest.) We were disappointed to see that it was very hazy all around us. We had a signal on our phones so we learned that all this smoke was from hundreds of miles away, from southern Oregon and even Redding, California. All of Oregon was covered in smoke. Yuck. I cleaned up this shot in Photoshop, but the rest are straight out of the camera:

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Looking northwest. That's Hurricane Creek way down there:

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Looking across to Granite lake:

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And Billy Jones Lake:

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Looking north. You can just barely make out the farmland of the Wallowa Valley out there, but it's so hazy it's hard to see:

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Looking south. The peak on the right is Eagle Cap, which we hiked up in 2013:

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Panorama:

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There are two summits on the Matterhorn and we weren't sure we were on the true summit. It looked like the other one might be taller, so we headed over there:

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But once we were up there and looked back, we thought maybe the other one was the true summit. In any case, we never found a survey disk or a summit register on either summit.

More view shots:

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After sitting and enjoying the view for awhile and having a snack, we headed back down. The whole time we were up there we only saw one other hiker.

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On the way back down the views of Ice Lake were better since the sun was now behind us:

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More wildflower shots:

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And then finally we were back down to lake level. This scene was just too lovely!

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Hiking back along the north shore of the lake:

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Crossing the lake outlet:

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After a little more than four miles round-trip (it sure felt longer than that!) we were back at our campsite. Greg went swimming again and I waded. It felt good to relax and cool off after our steep hike:

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That evening I wandered around about a bit to see what there was to see. Our campsite was on the peninsula you can see in the photos I took from above, so there was a cove back there that provided some lovely photo ops:

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Campfires are not allowed at Ice Lake at any time, yet I saw evidence of them anyway. I spent ten minutes dismantling this very well-established fire ring. I forgot to take a "before" shot, but here's the after:

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It was another not-cold night, and when we woke up Tuesday morning we found that after 24 hours of smoke drifting into the area we now had super hazy skies. Some clouds had rolled in too.

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We enjoyed a quiet breakfast with just the sounds of a few birds and the lake water. Very peaceful.

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We packed up, said goodbye to Ice Lake, and started heading down:

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These rocks weren't fun going up and they weren't any more fun coming down.

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Hazy skies and clouds made for humid hiking:

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We paused under the log bridge for a break before the final push back to the car:

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We drove over to Enterprise and had dinner at Terminal Gravity:

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Great trip! It was fantastic to finally visit this gem and it was REALLY awesome to not be there on a weekend so we could enjoy some peace and quiet. Ice Lake is truly even more gorgeous than I had imagined, and it was cool to hike up the Matterhorn even though we had to deal with some smoke. In total we hiked 20 miles!
Cheryl

"Nature is not a place to visit. It is home." -- Gary Snyder

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Bosterson
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Re: Ice Lake and the Matterhorn July 29-31, 2018

Post by Bosterson » August 10th, 2018, 10:59 am

Wow Cheryl, as one of the other frequent Wallowa-goers here, I didn't realize you'd never been to Ice Lake yet! It's a swell place, though it can be crowded - nice work beating the crowds by going on a weekday, too. That haze you had was still hanging around when I hiked into Frazier Lake on the 2nd, though the winds must have shifted because it was pretty clear by the 3rd. However, the haze was coming back on the 5th when we left. Still - not nearly as bad as last year with those huge fires in BC!
Bosterson wrote:Image
Next time you will have to go back and do the ridge from Matterhorn to Sacajawea - it's a blast! :D
justpeachy wrote:
August 10th, 2018, 10:21 am
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Very nice. Is this stitched or do you have a very very wide lens? (I'm guessing wide + stitched.) I have never taken a camera that could accept a polarizer up there - nice to see the bottom of Ice Lake juxtaposed with the reflection. :)
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:lol:

Ben and I joke about how these silly signs are meant to be read in an ironic surfer voice, implying that they're a joke from the FS and not meant to be heeded. Maybe that's why there are fire pits at pretty much every lake in the Wallowas despite the prohibition... :x
Will hike off trail for fun.

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justpeachy
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Re: Ice Lake and the Matterhorn July 29-31, 2018

Post by justpeachy » August 10th, 2018, 1:40 pm

Bosterson wrote: Next time you will have to go back and do the ridge from Matterhorn to Sacajawea - it's a blast! :D
Funny you mention that! Greg had suggested that we consider doing just that. I was dealing with some painful blisters on my heel and said I wasn't up for trekking over to Sacajawea. Greg didn't end up doing it either because of not having enough water (even without the blisters I wouldn't have had enough water either). Between the lake and the summit and back we each drank all of the three liters we both carried, and we filtered water at the first opportunity when we reached that creek that flows into the lake. It was VERY warm! So anyway, maybe Sacajawea next time.
Bosterson wrote: Very nice. Is this stitched or do you have a very very wide lens? (I'm guessing wide + stitched.)
Actually that's an iPhone panorama! I did some minor editing in Photoshop to boost the colors and sharpen it, but that's it! I'll never give my up dSLR, but it's amazing what phones these days can do.
Cheryl

"Nature is not a place to visit. It is home." -- Gary Snyder

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pablo
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Re: Ice Lake and the Matterhorn July 29-31, 2018

Post by pablo » August 10th, 2018, 8:51 pm

What a wonderful and, for me, inspirational trip report, thx. I've only hiked in the Wallowas a couple of times but I hope to retire next year to Baker City and spend the rest of my hiking life exploring the Wallowas, Elkhorns, and Hells Canyon.

--Paul
The future's uncertain and the end is always near.

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kelkev
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Re: Ice Lake and the Matterhorn July 29-31, 2018

Post by kelkev » August 11th, 2018, 3:01 pm

Great pics, brings back memories of my trip there several years ago. Such a beautiful place. We chickened out on Sacajawea, the traverse from the summit of the Matterhorn required some scrambling around some gendarmes, and being somewhat exhausted, we called the view "good enough" from where we turned around :)
"Going to the mountains is going home."
— John Muir

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justpeachy
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Re: Ice Lake and the Matterhorn July 29-31, 2018

Post by justpeachy » August 11th, 2018, 7:07 pm

kelkev wrote:
August 11th, 2018, 3:01 pm
We chickened out on Sacajawea, the traverse from the summit of the Matterhorn required some scrambling around some gendarmes, and being somewhat exhausted, we called the view "good enough" from where we turned around :)
We took that into account as well. We are not what I would call experienced scramblers so that part gave me pause.
Cheryl

"Nature is not a place to visit. It is home." -- Gary Snyder

My adventure blog
Hiking videos
justpeachy on Instagram

Aimless
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Re: Ice Lake and the Matterhorn July 29-31, 2018

Post by Aimless » August 11th, 2018, 7:12 pm

We paused to shake our heads at the use of quotation marks on this sign:

I've seen those all over Eagle Cap Wilderness and felt the same, but I think I finally figured it out. Some District Ranger or other FS executive sent a memo to the shop where their signage is made, ordering X number of signs to be made, and indicating they should all be inscribed "FIRES PROHIBITED BEYOND THIS POINT". So, they were!

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Born2BBrad
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Re: Ice Lake and the Matterhorn July 29-31, 2018

Post by Born2BBrad » August 12th, 2018, 2:52 pm

How lucky to have the place to yourselves. All it takes is one thoughtless person to ruin the wilderness experience for others. Unfortunately there are lots of those kind of people.
justpeachy wrote:
August 11th, 2018, 7:07 pm
Campfires are not allowed at Ice Lake at any time, yet I saw evidence of them anyway. I spent ten minutes dismantling this very well-established fire ring.
Bosterson wrote:
August 10th, 2018, 10:59 am
Ben and I joke about how these silly signs are meant to be read in an ironic surfer voice, implying that they're a joke from the FS and not meant to be heeded. Maybe that's why there are fire pits at pretty much every lake in the Wallowas despite the prohibition.
Thanks for destroying the fire ring. I encourage everyone to do the same to fire rings in the wilderness. That includes spreading out charcoal chunks and moving any leftover firewood.

Dollar Lake (Wallowas) fire ring before (8/9/18/):
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Dollar Lake (Wallowas) fire ring after (8/9/18):
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Link to all my GPSFly uploaded tracks.

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Titogoeshiking3
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Re: Ice Lake and the Matterhorn July 29-31, 2018

Post by Titogoeshiking3 » August 13th, 2018, 2:54 pm

I love your photography! thanks

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Ice Lake and the Matterhorn July 29-31, 2018

Post by Don Nelsen » August 13th, 2018, 6:11 pm

Thanks for the great photos and TR! I love living vicariously through TR's like this.

dn
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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