I made my very first appearance in the state of Oregon over the weekend. I’m impressed and hooked.
Oregon is a very pretty state, and I didn’t even get to see very much of it. My Oregon experience took me to a little known section in the northeastern corner, the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area in the Wallowa Mountains.
I went with two other grad students in the department for an overnight trip to Mirror Lake in the heart of the wilderness area. We left Friday night just as the sun was setting and drove pretty much all of the drive in the dark. Thus we had no idea what we were driving through when the road became extremely twisty dropping in elevation and then rising back up. I knew there was a canyon to cross, but it wasn’t until we returned on Sunday that we could see just what it was. We stopped for a late dinner at Subway in Enterprise and car camped at a site off of Lostine River Road.
From the trailhead at the end of Lostine River Road, the hike was 7.5 miles gaining 2000 feet to the lake at 7600 feet above sea level. We gained 3/4 of the elevation in the first three miles. The next three miles were bliss, a flat trail through an open meadow wandering down a glacial U-shaped valley. It was here that we caught our first glimpse of our destination. Eagle Cap, the 9575 ft. summit, looms in the distance, but our lake lies right at its base. It is a magnificent sight.
The hike to Mirror Lake is one of the most popular in the Wallowas. The trail is well defined from heavy use and campsites were quickly taken, but there are tons of camping options so finding a place to sleep wasn’t too difficult.
We relaxed, explored the lake, and watched the sunset before making dinner and retiring to our tents for the night. Because the area is so far removed from any major cities and towns, the sky was dark and full of stars. I attempted to capture the sky before heading off to bed.
I woke up the next morning just as the light was gathering, bundled up and headed to the lakeside with my camera. I set up to catch the morning alpenglow as the pink light illuminated the summit of Eagle Cap. It was glorious.
We returned the way we came, nixing the loop over the ridge to the next lake and down the neighboring valley back to the car. I hope to return to make it to the summit of Ealge Cap and explore more of this heaven on earth.