All Results for: Union

Western Wallowas Concern

The accompanying video and snowpit tells most of the story. Even though there is close to 7 feet of snow on Mule Peak (one of the highest snowpacks I've seen this winter), it is still shockingly thin around the 5,000' range in the Western Wallowas even with the new snow over the last week. The storms are still favoring more north, especially the Blue Mountains. ...  
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Bennet Peak & Two Color Snowmobile - Wallowa Mountains, Baker City, Oregon

by Brian Sather — Thu, Feb 8, 2018

Catherine Crust

I thumbed my nose at the day-late avalanche warning needlessly clogging up the notifications on my phone and charged around the Buck Creek area and up most of Mule Peak. The snow was soft and warm until I got to about 6,000' and then the breakable crust was rampant. Things appeared to stay below freezing above that point most of the day. The creeks weren't blowing out either, which is more evidence things are staying more stable at higher elevation today. I didn't see any signs of instability or recent avalanches up high. The wind was strong but there wasn't any free snow available for transport. This is a complete absence of snow on the southern slopes and anything below 5,000' is very thin in the Catherine Area...  
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Fake Creek Trail #1914 - Wallowa Mountains

Fake Creek Trail is mostly fake. While it exists on a map, in reality it is a concoction of bad practice in trail making. For starters, there is fake footbridge. Then there are many sections of fake trail and real trail which are difficult to discern. Presumably there existed and old moderate incline trail with switchbacks and then people came along and decided to go steeply up the mountain to avoid all the tree fall down across the trail. This brings up the topic of fake maintenance; there are many trees across the trail and in some places trees were cut out but not on the trail. This is really confusing because usually when I lose a trail the first thing I look for are cut logs to guide me back onto an old trail bed...  
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Squaw Creek Trail #1951 - Wallowa Mountains, Union, Oregon

This is an uneventful but awesome trail that shoots straight up Squaw Creek to the China Ridge Trail. The beauty is its simplicity marching through a low use area with direct access into a remote area. The climb is subtle and direct and makes good time getting up to some nice scenery. The trail is in good shape too. You stay in the trees on the west side of the creek until you cross the creek and the visuals open up as you work directly toward the saddle. There are some oddities about this trail though. The access is weird and there is no good parking space at the trailhead, let alone a good spot to turn a trailer around...  
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China Ridge Trail #1906 - Wallowa Mountains, Union, Oregon

China Ridge is a beautiful ridgetop trail with a nice view in all directions on the western side of the Wallowas. Burger and China Cap are the first peaks you get a nice look at, including the north wall of China Cap which is view-able on a good stretch of the trail after China Cap Pass. The trail serves as an excellent connector for a loop with Squaw Creek Trail and Elk Creek Trail or a more ambitious loop to North Fork Catherine Creek Trail. The trail starts off the Elk Creek Trail at a confusing intersection with no signage. The trail surface is in good shape given the limited traffic beyond China Cap Pass. Some use this trail to climb the peak and depart from the trail somewhere around or before the pass...  
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Squaw First Snow, First Cornice

Well I set out to do a trail run and a trail report, but quickly I was trudging through deeper and deeper snow so here is the first snow ob of the year. The drive up to around 5,500' was uneventful aside from dodging a few bow hunters, but right at the "trailhead" for Squaw Creek Trail the first touches of snow were appearing and it was 35 degrees F. Climbing the trail had me quickly in full white status, with snow still stuck on the trees and some nice quality powder on the ground. The snow hit a little earlier last year, but this storm packed more punch then our initial snow last season and may stick around a bit give how much I encountered as I got about 7,000'...  
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Flagstaff Trail - Wallowa Mountains

This is an unofficial trail that connects Flagstaff Butte ridge with Mule Peak ridge. It can serve as a bonus connector trail if one wants to do a loop of Sand Pass, Tombstone Lake, and West Eagle trails. Otherwise, it mainly serves as a hunters' trail or alternate access Mule Peak. It is a bit shorter and gains you some elevation over starting at Pole Creek Trailhead. The more recent heavier use of this trail was for fire crews to hike into the fire line for the Mule Peak Fire of 2005. That was probably the last time it was thoroughly cut out. The trail appears to be an old trail that was well established at one time, perhaps for access from an old lookout at Flagstaff Butte or connecting communication lines and transportation to Mule Peak Lookout...  
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North Fork Catherine Creek Trail #1905 - Wallowa Mountains, Union, Oregon

On a quality scale of awesome to crap, this trail covers the entire range from start to finish, in that order. The trail follows North Fork Catherine all the way to it's start and then goes up over a saddle on Meadow Mountain and painfully works its way down to Rock Creek and follows that down to the Minam River. The key feature of this trail is the lush beautiful mosquito den of Catherine Meadow. It is a huge meadow with a private land holding at one end and at the other end a public cabin with no amenities. The trail is maintained and gets good use to the meadow. Elk and other wildlife are plentiful throughout the entire trail. After Catherine Meadow, you immediately come to a junction with Crib Point Trail that goes up to Deadhorse Flat...  
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Cartwheel Ridge Trail #1907 - Wallowa Mountains, Cove, Oregon

Cartwheel Ridge is a meandering trail along a subtle ridge that follows an old road, hence probably the trail name. The double ruts are still visible for most of the trip. It is a nice route from Lodgepole Trail that takes you by two other trails before starting to open up with expansive views and plugging you deeper into the Minam area. Near the end you experience a twist in your wilderness experience when you come to a barbwire fence and gate. From there, the trail starts to sidehill and becomes a single track as it swaps from the south side of the ridge to the north side and plugs into a trail junction with Lakeys Hole and Jim White trails. The trail starts at a marked intersection on the Lodgepole Trail that clearly has the old road crossing the trail...  
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