Thursday, August 15, 2019

Two Pan, Irondyke, Boundary and Emigrant Springs State Park, Oregon

This was my third trip into the Wallowa's, and what I like best, besides the riding, is how accommodating all of the trailheads are for stock. Not only do they have large parking areas for trailers, but at every place I have been so far, they also have camping spots for people with horses, conveniently located just before the trailhead. Also since it is a long drive for me, burning lots of fuel, I like that the camps are all free....if you have a NW Forest Pass.

About to head up Ivan Carper Pass.

My first day was just a driving day. I learned that Lostine has no gas stations and so I had to continue on to Enterprise to fill up, where the diesel was not cheap, had I known that I would have stopped in Elgin. I will remember that for next time!

The road to Two Pan Trailhead starts out paved, then turns to good gravel for awhile, but once I passed the Lostine Guard Station, it was one lane, and rocky with potholes which slowed me right down. Once I got there I pulled into the small horse camp on the left before the road ends at the trailhead.

The horse camp at Two Pan.

Two Pan has 4 camp spots, although there is another parking spot that could easily be a 5th. One of the spots is quite large, in fact a trailer with a motorhome was parked in it. I never saw them the whole time I was there, they had obviously packed in.
I squeezed into another spot with maybe a foot to spare, so if you are longer than me, 39.5' total length, you would have to unhook. My site and the site with the motor home were plenty wide enough. There are some feeders and hitching rails, but no corrals. There is a bathroom with a small garbage bag in it at the trailhead, which is a short walk at the end of the road, and it is $5.00 a night to camp/park or free with a NW Forest Pass. The Lostine River is across the road, but it is not very easy to access if you are wanting to haul water.

There were a lot of cars in the parking lot and lining the side of the road, mostly because there were three outfitters rigs in the horse trailer parking area that had taken people in for pack trips, and of course some cars were from backpackers as well.

The trailhead at Two Pan.

I got started riding bright and early the next day because I planned to do a long loop up the East Fork Lostine River, over Ivan Carper Pass, then down the West Fork Lostine River. This is 17 miles including a short detour stop at Mirror Lake. It's a long 17 miles because there is not a lot of opportunity to move faster than a walk. I loved this loop a lot, but it could also be done as two different out and back rides, without doing the pass, however the view from the pass is fantastic and well worth it. There are sections here and there with large boulders on the trail that you need to negotiate.

Starting out on the East Fork Lostine Trail.

A waterfall on the East Fork Lostine Trail.

At one point the trail split and if I had followed the right side it would have kept me in the trees, but the left side went through a meadow and was much more scenic.

The trail goes through a meadow for awhile.

Seeing Eagle Cap in the distance on the East Fork Lostine Trail.

More meadows along the river.

Stopping for a snack before climbing up to Mirror Lake.

This part of the trail is stunning, right below Eagle Cap.

I did the detour over to Mirror Lake, and this is where I saw the most people, since a lot of backpackers were camping there. If I had continued following the trail past the lake it leads into the lakes basin and would be a great area for a pack trip. But I headed up the pass, where I could see Blue Lake from above, and once at the bottom of the pass, I arrived at Minam Lake. There was a fire burning in Granite Gulch which did not affect the trails I was on, but I did see some smoke plumes while on the pass.

Mirror Lake.

The Matterhorn from Ivan Carper Pass.

Looking down on Mirror Lake from Ivan Carper Pass.

Smoke from the Granite Gulch fire.

Heading down the pass towards Minam Lake.

The West Lostine River, crystal clear water.

The next day I rode half a mile back down the road to the trailhead for Maxwell Lake. This is a short ride, 7.8 miles, with no other destinations once you reach the lake. The trail starts off with some long easy switchbacks but then it quits being nicey nice and the last mile is straight up!
This trail has some steep drop offs, and some narrow sections.
Once at the lake I hung out and just enjoyed the quiet. I had seen three cars in the parking lot, I had since passed all three hikers, and so I had the place to myself for awhile, until they caught up.

On the Maxwell Lake Trail.

Almost to Maxwell Lake.

Maxwell Lake.

On the Maxwell Lake Trail.

After completing that ride I packed up and drove to Irondyke Forest Camp which is very close to the Bowman Francis Trailhead, my destination for my next excursion.

Irondyke is a nice little camp near the river with mostly non horse sites, but there are two specifically designated for equines. One is down off to the side and secluded near the river, and the other one, which I picked, is across the road. The weather was starting to turn a little funky and I wanted to be in the trees where I could set up my corral. Sure enough we had the first of many thunderstorms that evening. It is a free camp, with a NW Forest Pass, and there is a bathroom. My spot had a picnic table, a homemade fire pit, and a hitching rail. Again stock water is available from the river. I also found a water trough at the nearby trailhead, but it is not close enough to be very convenient.

Irondyke is close to the Bowman Francis Trailhead.

The equestrian spot across the road, at Irondyke.

My goal for the following day was to ride 13 miles to Laverty Lakes, Chimney Lake and then up to Hobo Lake. You can also do a long pack trip from there into the Wilson Basin, or take what looks to be a very steep and long trail to Francis Lake. The trail to Chimney Lake was easier than the first two rides I had done, the trail was wider, and the climb was more gradual.

The wilderness sign on the Bowman Trail.

On the Bowman Trail.

On the Bowman Trail.

Chimney Lake.

When I got to Chimney Lake, the weather had changed and it seemed like another storm was brewing. There was another 1.5 mile climb to get to Hobo Lake and most of it was pretty exposed, so I contemplated whether to continue on or not. If you guessed that I did, you would be right.

Once I got to a saddle I had a very good view over towards Eagle Cap where one storm was blowing to the north and another nasty looking situation was happening over by Lostine. I watched everything for awhile and figured it wasn't heading my way so I scurried up to Hobo Lake.
By the time I got back down off the ridge, the storms were over, and I didn't get hit by anything other than some gusts of wind for a little while.

Hobo Lake.

A viewpoint near Laverty Lakes.

Laverty Lakes....can you spot my pony?

Friday was a day off from riding and also a moving day. On the way back out I stopped at the Lostine Guard Station to refill my horse and trailer water. There is a convenient faucet there with potable water, also another one across the road that you can attach a hose to. I did not have a long enough hose, so I lugged water for quite some time.

The Lostine Guard Station has potable water!

My next plan was to do a couple of easy rides in another section of the Eagle Cap outside of the town of Wallowa starting at Bear Creek Trailhead.

Boundary Campground is free, you don't even need a NW Forest Pass, and it has 2 equestrian spots.
Spot #1 is the better option because it is quite long with plenty of room, and has a feeder and a hitching rail. There is a bathroom at the campground and another bathroom with a small garbage bag, at the end of the road at the Bear Creek Trailhead.
There is lots of parking at the trailhead, with a loading ramp and hitching rails, but you do need a pass to park there. You can get stock water from Bear Creek and it is close enough to haul to the camp sites.

Spot #1 at Boundary Campground.

Spot #1 at Boundary Campground.

After another evening of thunderstorms, I rode early the next day, which turned out to be a really good idea, since the weather was only nice in the morning.
The Bear Creek Trail is nearly level the whole way with a few little ups and downs and it follows the creek until you get to an unmarked junction where a cabin is tucked away in the trees. This makes for a nice 10 mile out and back ride or you could continue on further since the trail keeps going and going....but I turned around and got back to camp in time to get the last few things packed up, before the storm of the century hit me, lightning and thunder cracking overhead as I drove back to civilization.

Crossing the bridge on the Bear Creek Trail.

Looking down onto Bear Creek.

The Bear Creek Cabin.

The only open area on the Bear Creek Trail, the rest is forested.

Once I had cell service I realized the forecast had changed, as it tends to do, and now Sunday was also going to be stormy, so I scrapped my plan for going to the last trailhead, and instead drove part way back towards home stopping at Emigrant Springs State Park, which is conveniently located up in the Blue Mountains between La Grande and Pendelton.

Emigrant takes reservations and has 7 spots A through G. I ended up in what I will now call the "G Spot!".....which was the only pull through. E is big enough for a motorhome, and another person pulled into B with quite a long trailer. F is the worst spot since it does not really even have a parking area, you have to park parallel to the road. D and E are really close to each other and would be good  for people travelling together.

There is a bathroom, (with lights on at night and Purell) a manure bin, garbage cans, a spigot that you can attach a hose to with potable water, and a grey water dump. There are brochures of the park at the kiosk and it is $17.00 per night. Each spot only has one larger than normal corral, they actually say you can fit as many as 4 horses in each corral but....not really....there is not enough room to cram that many in. My spot was the farthest from the highway, but with the traffic noise you will not find it to be a quiet place. If you feel like a bit of a walk, there are showers in the people campground.

The "G spot" at Emigrant Springs State Park.

It's a pretty big area so I entertained myself that evening exploring the park and eating all the thimbleberries I could find. This is a place that pioneers on the Oregon Trail used to stop to get water at the spring, so there is some history to read about.

A plaque in the park about the Oregon Trail.

In the morning after yet another evening of storms, the day was not looking bright and sunny, but I decided to do a short ride anyway. There is one equestrian trail that circles the perimeter of the park, but it is quite short. However there are numerous exits off of that trail into the national forest and so that is where I ended up riding, along a gas pipeline. Other trails have been made in the forest, but they mostly veer off the pipeline for awhile, meander around and the rejoin the pipeline eventually.
I didn't get a chance to explore much more of the area since I rode as far south as I could, at which point I came across a locked gate, then the rain which had been more like a mist, started up in earnest and so we hightailed it back to camp, getting drenched in the process.

On the equestrian trail in the park.

Out on the gas pipeline.

Came across some cows on the gas pipeline.

After changing into dry clothes, my soggy pony and I hit the road, once we were out of the mountains, it was perfectly nice weather the rest of the way home. When I got back a friend informed me of the crazy storms that had happened in my absence, including a hailstorm where a snowplow had to be brought out to clear it all off of the road, and a car that got struck by lightning and had a hole in the windshield. So really my time away was less dramatic in comparison.





Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Lily Glen Equestrian Park, Oregon

I used to live in the Medford area and so I had been to Lily Glen before, many years ago, in fact back when the historic barn was still standing. This used to be a stagecoach stop long ago, but unfortunately the barn has since burned in 2003. I had never camped there, except for once with a gelding I used to have, we drove there, went for one ride, spent the night, and the following day I turned around and drove home, not because I wanted to, but because the gelding refused to drink a drop of water. So this time I stayed three nights, and was able to ride and explore the rest of the area.

Lily Glen Horse Camp.

Lily Glen is a county park and it has two different camping areas, two large group sites that you can reserve, that are pretty level, with log corrals. They have their own hand pump with potable water, a bathroom, manure bin with a wheelbarrow and a handicap rider mounting block.

The water tower still stands in between the group sites at Lily Glen.

The other loop has 12 back-in, first come first serve sites. Only 5 of the spots have steel corrals, but you can set up your own corral or highline. This loop also has a bathroom, hand pump and manure bin. Spot #26 is handicap accessible. None of these sites are very level and most of them will not accommodate bigger rigs. I was in #20 which was one of the largest and easiest to get into.
It is $18.00 per night, plus $2.00 per horse.
There are plenty of garbage cans, and a day use area with a $4.00 a day fee.
The hand pump is right near the entrance, so if you are camped fairly far from it, be prepared to drag water a bit of a distance.
This camp has some cell service, I could always text, and sometimes email etc. would work as well, but it was sporadic.

Spot #20 at Lily Glen Horse Camp.

I arrived mid day and set out for my first ride. The main event at this camp is to ride along the banks of Howard Prairie Reservoir. You have to cross Grizzly Creek to get to the trail system and then there are a few well used trails going in several different directions, however most of them end up heading the same way towards the reservoir.
You will also be riding amongst a series of cross country horse jumps, since there is a fairly dilapidated course out in the meadow and also in the trees. It was so tempting to just pop over a few of them, since it made me nostalgic for the days when I used to do three day eventing.

When you are on the main trail that follows the water, it is marked with orange horseshoes nailed to trees. This trail is named after Beth Bliss who was an endurance rider, I remember hearing about her passing, since it happened while she was riding at the Bandit Springs endurance ride in Central OR.

Easy, well used trails with good footing.

The Beth Bliss Memorial sign.

This trail goes all the way to a junction with the PCT where you can continue riding for as long as you want, but I rode just past the dam, which is nearly to the junction, and then turned around. I had been on that section of the PCT in the past when I rode there from Hyatt Lake Horse Camp.

The trail is marked with orange horseshoes in memory of Beth Bliss.

Howard Prairie Reservoir.

The trail crosses water and keeps going along the reservoir.

The dam at Howard Prairie Reservoir.

Back at camp the group sites were pretty busy and full of people, but I had the other campground to myself.

The next day I took a slightly different way towards the reservoir riding along the creek for awhile but then I crossed over the Keno Access Rd. and followed forest service roads all day. Most of it was forested but I also found a few nice meadows and a couple of views of Mt. McLoughlin.

Riding along the side of the creek that runs into the reservoir.

Lots of small meadows.

Got to an area with a view of Mt. McLoughlin.

Found some meadows and flowers while out exploring.

Lunch break, while exploring random roads.

Sunset at camp, a herd of cows graze in the meadow.

On the last day I followed a trail that lead to the west between the two group sites, I was hoping for it to continue on, but it was just a short jaunt to another view of the large meadow that the camp sits in.
So I crossed over Dead Indian Memorial Rd. and followed more roads to the north for the rest of the day.
There is a gate across the street from the camp, but there was a sign that said it was on private property, so I went up Shell Peak Rd. instead which is the way to the Mountain Trails Youth Camp.
A lot of people don't enjoy road riding, but these were quiet roads and my theory has always been if you follow one long enough and try to head uphill, you may find a view, and I certainly did this time!

A short trail leads to views across the meadow.

This was once a Devil's Dyke, where you jump downhill, then over water, and then back out the other side.

Riding on FS Rd. 3710.

A beautiful viewpoint all the way to Medford.

Mt. McLoughlin views from FS Rd. 080.

That night my friend Connie came for a visit, she was my neighbor for a couple of years when I lived in Southern Oregon and it was really nice to see her and catch up.

I had run out of options for anymore riding, so I headed home, deliriously happy to be back camping with my wonderful horse, after her being laid off for a few months.