Sans Pass

Looking at the Elkhorns from Beaver Mountain on eclipse day.

by Brian Sather — Updated 2 months 3 weeks ago · Posted Sat, Aug 26, 2017

The smoke is back invading our air again. Thankfully, we had the perfect window of clear skies on eclipse day. That was awesome--totality was one of the greatest things I have seen in my life. The Fire, Weather, & Avalanche Center eclipse forecast was right on with 0% chance of cloud cover, which I was beginning to doubt with all the smoke and clouds the days leading up to it and then it all cleared up magically for us. The Forest Service and other entities did a great job putting all the fires out and keeping others from starting fires leading up to the eclipse. There were a lot of starts from lightning just before the eclipse so the crews did a fantastic job getting those out. The back roads were easy to navigate on eclipse day and it was a monumental occasion. After the eclipse, I-84 got congested around the construction zone in Baker and I heard it was a mess around Hermiston and I-82 taking ages to get home for the people that came down from the north.

Some of the wildlife that had disappeared in the high country is starting to appear now. I've seen a lot of elk in the Catherine area which bodes well for the opening of archery season this weekend. A lot of hunters are out in their camps now and cruising around on the roads and short distances up trails, in some cases. I've been seeing wolf tracks in the meadow area below Mule Peak, along with cougar, coyote, and goat tracks. Speaking of cougar, I saw a big one up close on the South Fork Walla Walla trail a couple weeks ago near the spring at the old cabin. Then, it was reported again on the trail by another mountain biker at Bear Creek Trail, just a short distance away. He's big but he is a scaredy-cat so just let him know you are there and he runs away.

Sand Pass Trail is good up past the Mule Peak intersection but once you cross the creek again the trail has a lot of blowdown from the dead standing burnt timber so someone needs to come through with a big crosscut saw to fix that short section before it gets decent for the rest of the way up over Sand Pass to Burger Meadow. Otherwise, things are still really dry and dusty and the fire danger is high with no campfires allowed. Once we can get this invasive smoke to blow out of hear we should be in for a great fall on the trails.

RideGuides:
Sand Pass Trail #1912 - Wallowa Mountains, Union, Oregon
South Fork Walla Walla River Trail

Category: Hike   
Keywords: Wallowas    Eclipse    Elkhorns    Sand Pass    Mule Peak    Catherine   
Sand Pass Trail needs some cross cutting.
Sand Pass Trail section of blow down.