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About East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current | View Entire Issue (Aug. 10, 2019)
Saturday, August 10, 2019
Hard to be
IF YOU GO
From Interstate 84 in Pendleton, head east to Baker
City (Exit 302), take Highway 86 east toward Rich-
land. Just beyond Milepost 23, turn left (uphill) on
Sparta Lane. Follow this steep, winding gravel road
for about 4.7 miles to the junction with Road 70,
East Eagle Lane. Turn left (north). Follow this road,
also gravel, for about 5.5 miles, passing through
Forshey Meadows, and then entering the Wal-
lowa-Whitman National Forest.
At a spot locals call “Five Corners” because of
the roads that come together here, turn right onto
Empire Gulch Road, No. 7015. This road descends to
Eagle Creek, crossing the stream at about 4.6 miles
from Five Corners. On the far side of Eagle Creek
turn left onto well-traveled gravel Road 77, the
Main Eagle Road. Drive upstream for 2.8 miles, then
turn right on East Eagle Creek Road No. 7745.
Follow Road 7745 for about 6 miles to the East
Eagle Trailhead. Along the way you’ll pass the
meadows along the creek where many scenes from
the musical “Paint Your Wagon” were ﬁ lmed in 1968.
Parking passes are not required at the trailhead.
Hikers should ﬁ ll out a free wilderness permit.
Lisa Britton for EO Media Group
Late evening sunshine still illuminates the west slopes of Eagle Cap while Hidden Lake is in shadow.
Hidden Lake is an alpine gem in the Eagle Cap Wilderness
By LISA BRITTON
For the EO Media Group
BAKER CITY — We looked at the
map, but didn’t really study the map.
My friend Meggan Hills and I always
plan a backpacking trip for the last
weekend of July. It’s become our tradi-
tion — a 30-hour leave from our respon-
sibilities as mothers.
This year we both turned 40. We con-
templated a 40-mile hike to celebrate,
but knew we would need more than one
night to accomplish that adventure.
Instead, we chose Hidden Lake.
We started out on a morning that was
already warm. The map indicated a hike
of about 8.5 miles. The ﬁ rst 7 are on the
East Eagle Trail; the last mile and a half
is a side trail that leads to Moon Lake
and Hidden Lake.
I traversed this trail about 15 years
ago and remembered several good
patches of huckleberries a couple miles
into the hike. This year did not disap-
point, and we paused several times (OK,
a lot) to pluck plump purple berries from
the bushes lining the trail. Backpacking
is not conducive to carrying heavy fresh
fruit, so we relished this sweet treat.
We met a few groups of hikers head-
ing down to the trailhead. Upon hearing
our destination, they gave us a few tips
on ﬁ nding Hidden Lake (there’s a reason
for its name) and also told us they didn’t
see very many mosquitoes (more on this
The hike up East Eagle is one of my
favorites. The trail isn’t quite as dusty
as the well-used trails on the north side
of the Eagle Cap Wilderness, and we
crossed stream after stream that bubbled
across our path. The wildﬂ owers were
a bouquet of color — the red of Indian
paintbrush, the purple of penstemon, the
bright pink of skyrocket gilia, the pink-
ish-purple of ﬁ reweed.
Backpacking is a fairly slow business
when you hike uphill with packs that
weigh between 25 and 30 pounds. The
ﬁ rst 7 miles is a fairly gentle grade that
rises 2,000 feet.
As the sun beat down in the after-
noon, we grinned when we saw the big
rock cairn with a post that indicated our
trail to Hidden Lake (there is no sign).
We walked down to East Eagle Creek
and swapped our hiking boots for san-
dals. A sturdy stick lay nearby, perhaps
left by previous hikers who used it to
cross the water.
Here’s the thing about the high moun-
tains: The water comes from snowmelt
and icy springs. The ﬁ rst few steps were
refreshing on my tired, hot feet. Then,
as I neared the other bank, the sensation
turned more to an ache and I nearly lost
feeling in my toes.
Safe on the other side, we again
donned our boots and hitched our packs
back on sweaty backs.
This was the part where we didn’t
really study the map.
The mileage sounds nice: 1.6 miles.
The elevation? Not so nice at nearly
We started up, and kept going up.
The trail tends to loose rock and a pitch
that more resembles a trail in the Elk-
horn Mountains, rather than the gentle
switchbacks of the Eagle Cap.
We stopped every so often to catch
our breath and give our burning legs a
We were very happy to see Moon
Lake, which is small and shallow but
still pretty against its backdrop of cliffs.
The trail led gently around the lake,
then headed uphill again.
This time, as we picked our way
around granite rocks that wanted to roll
under our boots, we couldn’t help but
worry about the next day when we had
to come down the same trail.
But all our aches were momentarily
forgotten when we saw Hidden Lake.
(Again, there is no sign. The trail fades
out and you hike over a rise to the right
to ﬁ nd the lake.)
Looking east across the lake we could
see Eagle Cap, although it’s not quite as
impressive as it’s seen from Mirror Lake
in the Lake Basin.
We ﬁ ltered water from a cold stream,
then took off our shoes and waded into
the lake. Although we were hot and
sweaty, we knew the sun would soon
set and decided against a quick dip that
would result in wet clothes. But soaking
our feet and legs was a nice compromise.
(Remember the hiker who claimed
he didn’t see any mosquitoes? Perhaps
they moved in after he left, but we used
nearly a full bottle of repellent to ward
off the annoying bugs. Even then we still
ended up with itchy bites.)
Our campsite sat in a space fairly far
from trees, which meant we had a pan-
oramic view of the starry sky. The sliver
of waning moon didn’t rise until early
Get your intro to ﬂ y ﬁ shing in John Day
JOHN DAY — Come to John
Day to experience the joys of
ﬂ y ﬁ shing with an introductory
The North Fork John Day
the event Saturday, Aug. 17,
10-11:30 a.m., in John Day at the
Seventh Street Complex (near the
“On land, you’ll learn the ﬂ y
ﬁ shing basics,” according to the
council, “including an introduc-
tion to ﬂ y casting with a ﬂ y rod,
and techniques and ﬂ ies used to
catch different species.”
The class also gets to put what
it learns to the test, with a cast-
ing competition and the chance
to win hand-tied ﬂ ies for the next
ﬂ y ﬁ shing experience.
The event is open to ages 10
and up, and children up to age 17
can attend for free. Tickets for
adults are $12 each.
The watershed council sug-
gests participants wear sturdy
water shoes, hats with brims,
sunglasses, sunscreen and bring
reﬁ llable water bottles. The event
will provide the ﬂ y ﬁ shing gear.
For more information, please
contact Genevieve Perdue at
email@example.com or 541-
620-5754 or visit https://bmlt.
org/events/ﬂ y-ﬁ shing-john-day-
morning, so whenever I opened my eyes
at night (which is quite often, as camp-
ing is not nearly as comfortable as my
bed back home) I marveled at billions of
Although it’s quite quiet in the wilder-
ness, we did awaken to an eerie chirping
sound, which we later learned was a cow
elk calling to her calf. Near dawn, a rus-
tling woke us up as a doe licked the salt
off our backpacks.
Morning in the mountains is often a
chilly time, and this was no exception.
Hot coffee tastes especially nice on a
camping trip, and the cups warmed our
After cleaning up camp and ﬁ nding a
couple of sturdy sticks, we slowly made
our way back down the steep trail.
Although loop hikes are my favorite
for seeing a lot of country, an out-and-
back route allows you to see the scenery
that was at your back on the way up.
We met a few hikers on the way
down, mostly locals who knew the trail
well. We swapped stories, which was a
nice break from the walking that seems
harder the second day with tired legs and
As happens, the trail seemed longer
on the way down — but the huckleber-
ries seemed sweeter.
Back at the rig, we sunk into the soft
seats and broke out the icy watermelon I
stashed in a cooler.
Although my calf muscles are still
sore as I write this, I know that feeling
will fade soon. The memories of a week-
end adventure with my friend, however,
will stay vivid for a long time.
Kayak trips feature interpretive guides
BURBANK, Wash. — Interpre-
tive kayaking trips on the Columbia
River offer a chance to get out and
enjoy nature while learning about
Coordinated through the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, space is
limited and registration is required
for the popular outings. Registration
for a Wednesday, Sept. 11 trip at the
McNary National Wildlife Refuge
opens Monday, Aug. 12 at 8 a.m.
The trips are open to ages 12 and up
and cost $15 per person. To register,
leave a message at 509-546-8330.
All equipment is provided,
including a shuttle service. The
trip’s departure time is at 10 a.m.
from the Casey Pond Boat Launch.
The Class 0 ﬂ at water trip is mod-
erately strenuous for novices. No
experience is necessary.
Participants will need to bring
water, sunscreen and sunglasses.
People should expect to get wet, so
dress for the activity.
For more information, visit www.
questions, contact 509-546-8333 or