Tag Archives: balsam_root

Thoughts this Memorial Day weekend

“The desire for certitude is an obstacle to launching full sail upon an ocean of trust.” Fr Richard Keating

This Memorial Day weekend I am reminded of what God spoke to Abraham so long, long ago: “Leave your father’s house, your friends, relatives and property, and come into the land I will show you.” Genesis 12:1 I am  blessed to have such deep, loving memories of my parents and grandparents.  Their blessings upon me have continued to this day and hopefully have been shared and passed on to my own children and grandchildren. I have left so much “behind” as my life has moved into paths, prepared by the Lord, that I had no idea ever existed.

His love is the constant. I cannot imagine what else He has in store for me.  I only know that His only Will for me is to live and share His Love.
Wallowa Mts, Iweytemlaykin State Historic Park

A last day of canyon beauty Part 4, Wednesday

I arose early Wednesday morning for the dawning light and returned to an area of colorful wildflowers.  It was a cloudy morning, but the filtered sunlight intensified the colors.  I was struck how these pockets of wildflowers could still thrive despite the drought conditions that had limited blossoming in other areas of the canyon. May each of us find our own micro climates to continue to grow in!

And, so after breakfast, we packed up and returned down to the river and out to the trailhead. Flowers may fade, but memories endure! And more adventures will Raz and Wallowa llamas await in this Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Hells Canyon Wilderness

The Spring Creek drainage in the Hells Canyon Wilderness

Where the Hells Canyon Wilderness begins

Raz and the Wallowa llamas

our final lunch down almost at river level

With the llamas in Hells Canyon, Part 2, Tuesday

Monday, the first full day high on a bench above the Snake river,  began with Raz, our outfitter, preparing Swedish pancakes for us.  After breakfast, he led us north on a trail that crossed many of the small streams and ravines that make up the Spring Creek drainage. Although the wildflowers were not as thick and lush as last year, nonetheless we hiked through many pockets of intense color. After three miles we reached the far ridge of the Creek basin and enjoyed lunch looking over the vastness of canyon.

balsam root, Hells Canyon

Lunch time

Lupine and balsam root, Spring Creek drainage, Hells Canyon

Indian Paintbrush, Sping Creek

Snake River canyon

Traveling with Wallowa Llamas in Hells Canyon. Part 1, Sunday

Last year, on the last Sunday of April, Meg and I took a beautiful wildflower day hike in the Snake river canyon country, east of Halfway, Oregon. While on a a vast bench high above the river, we encountered a train of pack llamas and hikers.  Raz Rasmussen, of Halfway, has operated Wallowa Llamas since 1983.  We decided we would take this trip in 2015.  We invited good friends, the Gleesons, to join us.  And so, starting on the last Sunday of this April, we spent four days and three nights in this overwhelming, breath taking canyon country.

I am posting these pictures on a day to day basis, so there will be four parts.  Here are the pictures from Sunday.

Our ponderosa pine campsite, below these balsam root wildflowers. Hells Canyon Wilderness

Hells Canyon Wilderness

Phlox along the Snake river before the trail begins to climb

Llamas crossing McGraw Creek

Wallowa Llamas led by Raz

Spring in the Columbia Gorge

We in Oregon are blessed to have the Columbia River as part of our geography. The river flows though massive basalt cliffs that rise cathedral-like above the river.  Rowena provides one the best spring views of the river at the Tom McCall preserve which belongs to the Nature Conversancy.  The yellow balsam root and other wildflowers, the wind, the silence make this a special place. Further west waterfalls in the Columbia Gorge draw the hiker/walker into places that one misses traveling the swiftly moving traffic of Interstate 84.

Rowena, Tom McCall Preserve

Bridal Veil falls

Eagle Creek

Rowena, Tom McCall preserver

The Columbia river looking east from Rowena

Eagle Creek

Balsam root at Rowena

The Wallow Mts above the town of Halfway in Baker County

Meg and I overnighted in Halfway a week ago before heading off to hike the wildflowers of the upper canyons above the Snake River.  Located in Baker County, about a three hour drive from La Grande, Halfway is a sleepy ranching town set in a beautiful valley beneath the Wallowa Mts. The area was evaluated in the mid thirties as a potential ski resort site that Averell Harriman wanted to develop to increase the ridership for the Union Pacific Railroad.  Instead, Ketchum, ID, was chosen for Sun Valley.

In any case, the small bed and breakfast, Pine Valley Lodge, suffices as an exceptionally cozy and comfortable place to stay without any of the fancy trappings of a resort. The community is down to earth and the people strongly connected to each other.

At this time of year, the hills outside of town are alive with the yellow arrowleaf balsam root wildflower. Its name comes from a combination of its leaf shape and the fragrance of its roots. It is a common spring flower in the Great Basin areas of the west. Native Americans used various parts of it as a pain reliever, and to treat colds, burns, wounds, insect bites and swelling.

From a photographer’s standpoint, these flowers and the snow capped mountains behind them provide some of the most spectacular pictures in Oregon!!

Wallowa Mts, balsam root, halfway, Pine Valley Lodge

Wallowas

Baker County, Wallowa Mts. halfway

Wallowa Mts, Halfway, Baker County

Wallowa Mts, Halfway

Wallowa Mts, Halfway, Baker County