Tag Archives: Wallowas

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


Baker County, Wallowa Mts. halfway

Wallowa Mts, Halfway, Baker County

Wallowa Mts, Halfway

Wallowa Mts, Halfway, Baker County

Doing love

I decided to continue with more from Henri Nouwen on this simple yet challenging subject.

“Often we speak about love as if it is a feeling.  But if we wait for a feeling of love before loving, we may never learn to love well.  The feeling of love is beautiful and life-giving, but our loving cannot be based in that feeling.  To love is to think, speak, and act according to the spiritual knowledge that we are infinitely loved by God and called to make that love visible in this world.

“Mostly we know what the loving thing to do is.  When we ‘do’ love, even if others are not able to respond with love, we will discover that our feelings catch up with our acts.”  Henri Nouwen
The Cats Back, NE Oregon

The Cats Back, NE Oregon

The Zumwalt Prairie and the Cat’s Back

“The Zumwalt Prairie seemed a polycultural sea of greens–springtime mint greens, forest greens, shamrock greens.  They were every hue and shine–pale, bright, dull, and verdant–and always changing from the height of the sun in the sky or the volume and cover of the clouds. The wind changed the colors as did morning and evening dew.  Morning color was heightened, noontime was flat, and late afternoon shone gold-green and shadowy.”  Marcy Houle, The Prairie Keepers

This book provides a wonderful background for visiting both the Zumwalt and the Cat’s Back, two vast high grasslands the hold the silence and awe of Creation.

Traveling to Hat Point in Hells Canyon

Last week I posted pictures from my hike down into Hells Canyon from Hat Point.  However, like a picture book, there are two sides to the views found on this trip. The rugged road begins in the the town of Imnaha and reaches a knife edge drop-off before the first overlook into the middle portion of the Imnaha river.  The Imnaha river is the second longest in Wallowa County, and its ruggedness rivals that of the Snake river in Hells Canyon. At the same time the sculpted layers of the Imnaha canyon draw one’s eyes downward, the snow covered Wallowa mountains draw them upwards.  The contrast is jarring, yet it is softened by the beautiful wildflowers that seem to divide these two worlds. This location is one of those rare places that allow the heart, mind, and soul to hang onto radical contrasts.

Prayer and God Himself

As usual, Oswald Chambers, as CS Lewis, nails the reason for prayer: in our prayer life, God does not give us the answers we mere mortals want, He gives us Himself. And, if we are willing to accept that relationship, we do find the peace that Isaiah speaks of.

In that context, I would ask for prayers for my brother Greg for comfort and healing. He had mitral valve replacement many years ago. After a recent echo cardiogram, he has experienced internal bleeding. He is in the hospital in Portland, Maine, where they are attempting to strike a balance between the blood thinner he needs, and the coagulant drug necessary to help stop the bleeding. I am flying back there this Tuesday.