Evocative remoteness summarizes the experience on The “Divide,” or the “Cat’s Back.” Located in a little visited corner of Wallowa County in NE Oregon, it provides some of the most beautiful country you will find anywhere in this nation. In 1885, sisters Daisy and Caroline Wasson came to live there on a homestead established by their parents. High, on an open ridge with spectacular views of the Wallowa and Seven Devils mountains, they spent ten years. Snowed in for six months of the years, they learned to sew from their mother, and do the multi varied tasks that made life bearable in the winter. In the summer, the place was magical. Daisy wrote about those who wondered how/why they could live in such “god forsaken” place: “I have a picture in my mind of Caroline, standing, listening. She has on a little white linen hat and she is holding her walking sticks, and leaning a little forward. I watch her, and then after a little bit ask what she is doing. ‘I hear music,’ she answers, ‘when I am real still and look at the mountains. I hear it.’
“I hear music when I am real still and look at the mountains.” Meg and I have enjoyed this music, the silence, as we have enjoyed the blessing and privilege to visit the Cat’s Back many times in the late spring. I hope you enjoy these pictures as well and “hear” the music for yourselves.
“If we don’t allow God to address the deep levels of our attachment to ourselves and to our programs of happiness, we will put into the world the negative elements of our self-centeredness, adding to the conflicts and the social disasters that come from over identifying with the biases and prejudices of our particular culture and upbring.” Fr Thomas Keating
Although Hells Canyon is a formidable barrier between Oregon and Idaho, extremely hot and dry in the summer, beautiful wildflowers bloom in the spring along the Snake River, and on the high benches. Heavenly is a much better way to describe it. I have day hiked the McGraw section for the last five years. It is a wonderful way to be reminded of His Creation!
My hiking partner, Bob, and I spent a delightful time in the high Wallowas, far from the “madding crowds.” A ten mile hike and 4000 foot elevation gain to us to the tundra country of the Eagle Cap Wilderness, where its short spring was just arriving. We have been here before, but it was the first time we caught it at the peak of its wildflowers.
Fall comes to a close in NE Oregon, from the Grande Ronde Valley to Wallowa Lake. Saturday was overcast, the type of day where normally I would not have gone out with my camera. But we had friends visiting from Hong Kong and we wanted to show them Wallowa Lake. As it turned out, the sky was filled with dramatically defined dark clouds and special subtle shades of light shone through.
I enjoyed a Friday overnight stay at our shared cabin at Wallowa Lake in NE Oregon. Kokanee, a landlocked salmon, are running in the Wallowa River above the lake. Their redish colors are mirrored in the beaufiful fall maple leaves in downtown Joseph. The air was fresh and clear early Saturday morning, a great befinning of the fall.
He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears.
As I read this passage a couple days ago, once again I was awed by the knowledge of God’s love. Despite the unhappy struggles we all go through during our lifetime, God prevails. He does give us life after death; He does know our sufferings, and WILL wipe away our tears.
A couple of weeks ago, as Meg and I were camped above the Snake River in Hells Canyon, a hummingbird whizzed back and forth in the early evening light. I clicked quickly, hoping I might come close to capturing the moment on camera. This hummer is obviously not in focus, but its glow is mystical. God’s presence is mystical; it is quiet; it is “be still land know I am God.” And, it is His gift to us that He will “wipe every tear from our eyes!”
Besides the “birds and the beasts,” Meg and I enjoyed the never ending vistas above Hells Canyon at the Saddle Creek Campground near Hat Point in Wallowa county. You could not find a five star hotel with any better views than we enjoyed from our campsite. We read and relaxed and enjoyed the changing shadows and highlights as the sun moved across the sky.
Saddle Creek is one of many drainages that flow down steep basalt canyons into the Snake River. Often times, Meg and I stay at a Forest Service campground above Saddle Creek that looks into the majesty side cliffs and benches that form Hells Canyon. Bird and mammal life is busy, as these pictures show. A pair of blue birds were nesting in a dead tree close to our campsite, providing us with fun sightings of their constant search for insects.