Tag Archives: Hells_Canyon_NRA

Hat Point, another Spring trip into Hells Canyon

A “must see” place in the Northwest, Hat Point lies opposite the Seven Devils mountains of Idaho, high above the Snake River.  The mountains and the river form the deepest canyon in the United States.  The road to the top is a sinuous gravel road, with the stretch of acrophobic drop offs. But the views are spectacular, and make the driving challenge more than worthwhile.

The road crosses the Imnaha river and climbs quickly to a canyon overlook filled with wildflowers and basalt layered cliffs. Then, as one climbs and curves higher, the view moves from the south to the east, and the deeper Hells Canyon and the Seven Devils come into view.
Usually snow blocks the road until late June.  With this year’s drought, however, Bob Coulter and I were able to make the trip in mid May. The wildflower progression was just starting, and we enjoyed the yellow glacier lilies, as well as the mountain goats that had not yet dispersed to parts unknown.

Imnaha river overlook on road to Hat Point
Imnaha river overlook on road to Hat Point
Balsam root and Imnaha canyon
Glacier lilies, Seven Devils Mts near Hat Point, Hells Canyon
Mountain blue bird
Mountain goats close to the Hat Point fire lookout
Enjoying the view
Inmate river canyon, Hells_Canyon_NRA

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

McGraw Creek cabin Hells Canyon, Part 3, Tuesday

One of my goals of hiking and camping in this Hells Canyon area was to visit the McGraw Creek cabin. This name and location has resonated in my mind for many years.  I had only seen it on a map, and had read nothing about it.  Still, its utter loneliness and inaccessibility had drawn my interest.  How did one live such an isolated life and survive?  Certainly, were I a writer, I would enjoy writing a tale about the motivations and strengths and challenges of those who survived here.

So on Tuesday, a two mile hike took us there.  The cabin had fallen down, but the creek sang and the wildflowers, once again, were gorgeous.
Meg enjoying the tranquility of our campsite in Hells Canyon

looking into the McGraw creek drainage

Meg on the trail to McGraw Creek

How did they get this farm implement here, miles above the Snake river?

The McGraw Creek cabin, Hells Canyon

remarkable that this saw is still here

Obviously, I loved photographing these Indian paintbrush

The llamas were content to stay “home”

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

Troop 514 spring camping in Hells Canyon, Snake River

BSA Troop 514 set off in the rain this past Friday afternoon and headed to Hells Canyon in the Snake River country of NE Oregon.  We camped at the end of the road, setting up our tents in a light drizzle just before dark.  The next day, after breakfast and a flag ceremony, we headed downriver, into verdant green hillsides, carpeted with yellow balsam root, pink phlox, and purple lupine.  Five new scouts enjoyed their first outing, enthusiastically learning new skills of cooking and fire building, identifying plants and animals, pitching tents, packing backpacks, as well as playing games, all under the excellent, caring leadership of the older Scouts.  

I have enjoyed my return to the troop.  Without this outing, I would have stayed indoors, at home, in the rain, not creating anything memorable. Instead, memories of youthful enthusiasm and brilliant colors resonate in my mind!
Balsam root, Hells Canyon

Troop 514 fire starting

Troop 514 flag ceremony, Snake River

Snake River, Hells Canyon

phlox, Hells Canyon, Snake River

Troop 514

Troop 514, Hells Canyon, Snake River

Troop 514

Troop 514, Snake river

Troop 514, crossing McGraw creek