"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Beautiful Wallowa Lake, Oregon

Joseph, Oregon
Wallowa Lake State Park

This post will be all about the beautiful Wallowa Lake.  The town of Joseph is at the north end of the lake and the State Park is at the south end. Wallowa Lake sits at an elevation of 4,372 ft. It is the largest of several glacial cirque lakes in the area.  It is amazingly clear and reminds me much of Lake Tahoe. October was a great time to be here.  Sunny, warmish weather and the fall colors were great.  The lake is protected from all sides so there was almost no wind.
The glaciers formed high in the Wallowa Mountains around Glacier Lake and moved down the East and West Fork of the Wallowa River. As these glaciers advanced and retreated they carved out the river valleys and carried down rocks and sediment forming the moraines which rise over the lake some 900 feet. The lake is about 3.7 miles long and about 3/4 mile wide with a depth of almost 300 feet deep.

No wonder they call this area the Swiss Alps of Oregon.

The wind sometimes picked up a bit in the afternoons so we will plan our kayaking and fishing early and/or late in the day.
There are several trails around the area.  We chose one at the north end of the lake that took us by a creek and to a picturesque pond.

There was an old farmhouse in the area and while all buildings are gone, the old apple orchards are still there.  We talked with a local and he said the bears love this area due to the water access, grasses and apples.  We were here a week later but didn't see any.

The pond made for a perfect mirror of the Wallowa's in the background.

Another hike took us behind the lake and mountains out near some big ranches.

We took a break near the top and Hurley found a warm spot in the pine needles to rest.
This took us on the opposite side of the lake.  Looking across you see less trees and more grasses.  This side of the lake is lined with vacation homes.  Even this Eagle has a vacation home here.

With the winds calm and the weather at its warmest, we headed out on the lake to see if we could catch anything.  We just paddled and floated for hours.  It was so beautiful and peaceful on the water.  Good stuff for the soul.

As the sun headed down its rays cast layers of blue on the mountain side.

The temps dropped just as quickly as the sun did.  As we paddled back in campfires added wonderful smells.  We had stew cooking on the crockpot that we couldn't wait to get to.

No fish were caught, but what a perfect day!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Snowcapped Joseph, Oregon

Joseph, Oregon
Wallowa State Park

Walla Walla to Joseph was very pretty drive and the grade very gradual.  This eye catching coffee shop grabs your attention as you drive through.  We really wanted to go inside but they were closed. This will become the rule rather than the exception in October.
Nobody home.

Another beautiful drive.
As we got closer to Joseph, there were many barns dotting the ranches.  Some had quilt squares on them and others were just pretty to look at with the Wallowa Mountains in the background.
Cute sign as you enter the town of Joseph.  We've seen these before and they always make us laugh.
The town of Joseph was incorporated in 1887.  It offers many recreational opportunities, including Wallowa Lake, the Eagle Cap Wilderness, and the Hells Canyon Recreation Area. The downtown, has a distillery, brewery, and a collection of unique shops.  It is surrounded by several life size bronze sculptures created by local artists.
You pass through the town and the road basically ends at Wallowa State Park at the far end of the lake which acts as a mirror for the snow peaked mountains.
As we pulled in we found our campsite was on the inside of a sharp curve and would be very tricky to get in to.  This time of year there aren't many folks camping so the campground was fairly open.  We decided if we could switch to the campsite across from us on the outer part of the loop it would be very easy to get into.  At that time our neighbors walked over to let us know that the water was shut off at the campsites but there was one near the dump they left open so you could fill your tank.  Very nice of them to let us know as there were no signs at the gate to let you know.  Earlier I had checked with them the water was still on. Note to self, always find out just before arriving when it gets later in the season as it can save you a big headache later. We also found out that the site on the outer loop had no electricity so we kept our original site even though it was a pain in the butt to get into.  Our neighbors even brought us over some firewood they knew they wouldn't use before they left.  Very nice people!
It was getting late but we wanted to go over to the Wallowa River as someone told us the salmon were still running.  The runs have eluded us all year!  There weren't many left but it was still incredible to see the bright red color of the salmon.  If we were two weeks earlier the river would be solid red with them at their peak.
End of the Salmon Run
We had a great time talking with our neighbors, Erik and Theresa.  They would be leaving later the next day but they were going to go spend time in Joseph first.  We decided to go together and start with breakfast.
The town reminded me a bit of Jackson with the Tetons behind them.  We would've been here in the summer originally but since we had to go back to California it got pushed back to October.  It was actually beautiful with the fall color and recent snow on the mountains.
We found a place to have breakfast that had a Mexican flair to their food. The Old Town CafĂ©.
Loved that they had glasses on each table so you could easily read the menu. So if you forgot yours, not to worry!

There specialty was eggs with green chili salsa over pancakes which were made with cornmeal and black beans.  Delicious!!
We walked around town, in and out of the shops.  The above "moose head" mount was in the hardware store and made of wood. It was hung along with some other real mounts and skins.

This one store had some really different items.  The sasquatch was huge and made of bronze.  I liked the bacon socks.

The bronco was my favorite. 
There is a local bronze foundry called Valley Bronze that offers tours of the foundry.  They make all the wonderful statues that line Main St.  So life like.  Unfortunately for us they were closed for the season. We were talking about the Big Three that we wanted to see/do while we were here with the neighbors.  She said, oh no. Those are closed as well!  What?!  Strike 2. Yes, even though I called, the dusting of snow just a couple days ago brought an end to the Railriders for the year.  Bummer as that was what we were looking forward to most!  As with most old, no longer used railroads, many have turned into bike and hiking paths.  There is a section here though that you can ride small railcars that are equipped with recumbent type bikes that you power with you own pedaling.  Here is a link to them so you can read about what they are.  Next time you're near an old railroad, check around, you may find one near you.  Railriders of Joseph.
A herd of goats made of tin in front of one of the shops.
The East Fort Brewery was closed, why we could not figure out as the sign said they were open but the door was locked and no one was inside.  So we walked next door to visit the Stein Distillery.  Hmmm, is noon too early to sample?  We decided it was not.
The others tried a variety, but I'm the wimpy one and don't really care for the hard stuff so I chose the cordials to sample.  They were pretty tasty, but still very strong.
The owner made sure to get the buck mounts in the picture above our heads.  Pretty funny.
One of the painted murals on the buildings.
See the hoof carved into the table legs?  Clever.
We did go into Arrowhead Chocolates because there is always room for a little chocolate.  We chose several but did not notice the hot chocolate.  RV friend, Linda, of  The Chouters blog asked me later if we tried the hot chocolate. She raved about the Mexican Chili Hot Chocolate.  We knew we'd return.
We said our goodbyes to our new friends and headed back to camp for some hiking.
A popular mode of transportation?  He also gave us a tip on a hot fishing spot.  We did go check it out but he failed to mention it was fenced off with No Trespassing signs.

A nice memorial near the lake.  The Nez Perce have a huge influence around here.
A short, steep hike takes you to No Name Falls.  There is a trail, but we walked along the river then up an unmarked trail.  There are several.  At some point, just follow the sound of the falls and you'll find it.

Looking up.
The old lodge.
After the hike we went back to camp but not before coming across Strike 3.  There is a tram that takes you to the top of Mt. Howard, just outside the campground. The Wallowa Lake Tramway takes you up 1970 feet where you can see the surrounding mountains, lake and the village. They have lodging, food and entertainment.  They also closed just after the recent snowfall.
 It's been a busy start to the week but we have plenty of downtime as well as some kayaking, fishing and more day trips.