Thursday, October 15, 2020

More Landscapes in NE Oregon

 I didn't realize it had been so long between posts, but I've been "landscaping" again.  This time, I've photographed some areas in the county where I grew up.  It adjoins the county where I have lived for 45 years---and I have no idea where those years have gone!

Wallowa County has been known as "The Little Switzerland of America," although I haven't heard that term in a long while.  The high Wallowa Mountains, also known as the Eagle Caps, are impressive any time of year.  After the first snow, however, they get special recognition.  

Diamond Prairie near Wallowa, looking toward Bear Creek
Bear Creek canyon, which leads into the Wallowa Mountains
Bear Creek near the "end of the road"...a dirt road goes a bit farther and then it's trail. 
The Lostine Canyon, another entrance to the high mountains of the Wallowas. The Lostine River flows down this canyon, and just might be the most beautiful wild river, accessible in many places. 
Alder Slope between Enterprise and the Wallowa Mountains.  
Pasture land between Enterprise and Joseph, with the background of the Wallowa Mountains. 
Wallowa Lake , shaped by a glacier, which formed the perfect moraine on the east side (not pictured here).  Wallowa Lake State Park is located at the foot of the mountains in this scene. 
Zooming in on mountains bordering the lake. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

Journey to the Top of the World

 It was a trip we've made several times over the years, but not least, not during the dry season.  This trip is the one across Mt. Emily, one of the three familiar named mountains above the Grande Ronde Valley.  Mt. Emily is the second tallest at 6109 feet in elevation.  So...we start at 2785 feet in town, drive north to south across the Mt. Emily range of the Blue Mountains and down the south side into La Grande, where the elevation is 2785 feet.  In between is Indian Rock, probably the most appealing location of the trip, at 5650 feet.  

The drive starts on state highway 204 with a turnoff near the summit; this is the first view of the Grande Ronde Valley from the mountains. That is Mt. Harris in the back center; it's on the east side of the valley. 
Once you get out of the forested north side of Emily, it's a matter of looking down, a lot!
Another view of Mt. Harris and part of the valley over the forested flanks of Mt. Emily. 
This is one of two amazing dead trees ; I've photographed them in winter when they are so impressive. 

Behind the trees is Indian Rock, a geological formation that I really don't understand!  It looks like lava to me!  
Across the valley and beyond are the beautiful Eagle Caps of the Wallowa Mountains. 
This is one of those times when the feeling is really that you are at the top of the world.  At the top of Mt. Emily, at least, although this point is about 450 feet lower than the top. 
This is part of the geological landscape at Indian Rock. 

This is where my stomach gets just a bit quivery!  

My husband puts some perspective in the overlook at Indian Rock. 

This time of year, the fireweed is blooming everywhere.  
I'm still surprised at how much Indian Paintbrush is still blooming.  I always thought it was an early summer flower. 
Those little purple "asters" are thick in the shade of these trees. 

The trip down to the valley floor is much steeper than the one going up!  This is called Fox Hill, and I really don't like it.  (There is another road farther west that opens onto I84 at a higher elevation.)

This is the section of Fox Hill that makes me nervous.   I-84 is at the base of that dry hill, and La Grande is to the east (left in the photo).  

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Balloon Tree Road

(Comment:  I spent half an hour composing a blog post for these photos, only to discover that it was on my stamping blog!  Copying and pasting didn't fact, I mistakenly deleted all of it.)

We tend to make "loop drives" because we start at home and rarely come back the same way.  This particular drive required a 20-mile drive west on a state highway to Balloon Tree Road.  That Forest Service road then heads east across some of the Blue Mountains back home.  (Some day, we'll remember to note the mileage on one of these trips.)

 At the beginning of the drive, this is the wide, smooth road.  Going down into the valley was a different experience.
 Generally, this is the season for Sticky Asters, but this flower doesn't match the wildflower book.
 This is a variety of globe mallow, most likely the Checker Mallow.
 This tall pink flower is most likely the Mountain Globemallow.
 These are Blue Pod Lupines; generally they are late spring bloomers, but this year wildflowers were blooming much longer at higher elevations.
 This is the "edge" that is above our goal of the valley floor where home is.

 Indian Valley, where Elgin (pop. 1700)  is the only town.  "The Knob" formation is in the foreground.

 The downhill road was rocky and rough, with a lot of curves.
 It's difficult to see just how rough this road is, but much of it was washed out from the heavy spring rains and melting snow.
 This land once was owned by the local timber company but was sold to an investment company, whose only purpose is to cut trees to make money.  Most likely, this is a logging road; the area was logged a few years ago so most of the trees are young.
 This odd little flower is probably a "Little Pipsissewa" -- a Native American name for a plant used to treat kidney stones.
 Just like that, as we were rockin' and rollin' on the rocky road down to the valley floor....we came on a herd of sheep.
 This is a terrible photo, but during our descent we drove by the sheep herder and his tiny trailer home for the summer.  Generally, the herders are Central Americans.
Right after this photo was taken, one of the big herd dogs came bounding out of the brush, barking ferociously.  These dogs bond with the sheep, not with the humans.  They defend their 4-legged charges against real and imagined dangers.  

I was happy we had driven this loop, but I said I'm not really interested in repeating the drive. 😉

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Another Saturday Drive

We are fortunate to live on the borders of two national forests: the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman. Forest Service roads are numerous and in decent shape for vehicles designed for off-road ventures. This time of year is especially beautiful because the landscape is newly green and lush. And elevation of 5000+ feet means that things stay greener longer, too...once the snow has melted.

These photos were taken in Umatilla National Forest.
 At more than one point along Summit Road, which travels east to west across Mt. Emily in the Blue Mountains, there is a view of the huge Grande Ronde Valley.

 There are so many star-shaped white wildflowers in the Audubon Society's Field Guide but I can't distinguish which one this is. The leaves should help in identification, but they didn't help me!

 These beautiful buds are forming at the ends of branches on a fir on green in Spring.

 Along this particular Forest Service Road, there are remains of a wooden-fenced area and a corral.

 I love this time of year in the mountains, when various wildflowers spread across the landscape.

 This odd little flower is Elegant Cat's Ear  aka Star Tulip. Theoretically, it grows only in southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon to western Montana.

Canyon upon canyon ... close to the Umatilla Canyon

The slopes of canyons are dotted with bright yellow lupine, much more vibrant than the yellow lupine growing on dry hills. 

Monday, June 15, 2020

One Month Later --- A drive in the mountains.

To anyone who finds and reads this blog...thank you. 

I don't know about anyone else, but I've simply lost track of time during this pandemic. One would think that all the unscheduled time would be a bonus, but it hasn't been.   I'm still contemplating ending this blog, but not right now.  We drove a big loop through the Wallowa-Whitman and Umatilla National Forests, where snow still exists in shaded areas.  Downed trees and snowdrifts in the road helped us decide to turn around.  (I'm glad we did, because we were headed for cities in SE Washington...on Forest Service roads through the mountains!)

 Finally, an animal in my favorite grove of aspens!  The doe was on alert, although she didn't move.  I'm pretty sure there was a fawn hidden in the tall grass.

 These are the signs of a volcanic creation here.

 Crimson Columbine provides a splash of color along the roadside.  A bumblebee was working hard for some nectar.

 This little pretty is a Blue Violet.

 The Stream Violet doesn't match its color name, and I didn't see a stream nearby.

 According to the wildflowers book, this is Butter Lupine.  I just call it "yellow."

 Indian Paintbrush generally blooms earlier in the spring, but many flowers are later at higher elevations.

The book says this is "Blue Pod Lupine."  And I call it "purple."