Eagle Cap Wilderness--September 2012 | High Sierra Topix  

Eagle Cap Wilderness--September 2012

A forum that'll feed your need for exploring the limitless adventure possibilities found in "other" places. Post trip reports or ask questions about outdoor adventures beyond the Sierra Nevada here.
User avatar

Eagle Cap Wilderness--September 2012

Postby oldranger » Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:25 am

Day 1 to 3.5

Around Sept 20, 2012, 4 days after returning from Glacier NP, I embarked on my last Backpack of 2012. This time old friend Carl and his son joined me on a new semi loop trip in the Eagle Cap Wilderness in NE Oregon. A large portion of use in the Eagle Caps includes the “Lakes Basin” that is situated roughly between the two most prominent peaks in the wilderness--Matterhorn and Eagle Cap. While quite beautiful--I’ve visited the area on 3 different trips--it tends to be over populated with people as there are no quotas. After a 6 hour drive from Bend we found a room in a hotel and then visited Terminal Gravity brewpub in Enterprise for dinner and .... a brew.

Next morning we headed up to the trailhead, going beyond our starting point by 3 miles to the TH for Lakes Basin where Carl found a hidden spot in the creek to stash a 6 pack of beer as this was to be our exit point, the last half mile of our last day would share one of the major routes into Lakes Basin. There were lots of cars at this TH. Back at our TH there was not a single vehicle! Our route began at 5,200 feet elevation (roughly the equivalent of 8200 feet in the Central Sierra, in terms of vegetation and temperature) and involved a series of long switchbacks that took about 3 trail miles to gain 1200 feet before we began a gradual uphill all the way to our destination for the first two nights at a lake just above 7600 feet. The major disappointment of this trip was that the spectacular views were veiled by the pall of smoke from fires burning near Wenatchee in Washington State and in western Idaho.
1.jpg
Cameron and Carl, almost to destination for first 2 nights, Pall of Smoke blocks views


Next day it took us a while to figure out where my “target lake” for fishing was. Once found Cameron and Carl set of to climb the ridge and explore while I began to fish. Expecting relatively small brookies I was shocked that on one of my first casts my z-ray was struck by a substantial fish that turned out to be a pig of a rainbow, soon followed by another. That ended my luck with large fish but I caught several fat 10” fish over the next couple of hours. The two keepers provided the foundation of a great dinner.
IMG_4920.jpg
The Lake
IMG_4923.jpg
The Fish


The following day was a travel day, backtracking our first day’s route a couple of miles then turning west, topping a ridge and dropping down to n. Minam Meadow.
IMG_4927.jpg
Back tracking last part of first days hike, still smokey
IMG_4942.jpg
North Minam Meadow
We had a hard time finding a suitable campsite because there were a lot of dead trees at established sites. Finally at the s. end of the meadow we found an old site about 50 yards off the trail. Given that it was about that time of the year we were serenaded all night by bugling elk.

The next morning we began the second of 3 substantial uphill days during the trip.
IMG_4956.jpg
Day 4--elk country
IMG_4958.jpg
Looking up toward country where we would spend the next 2 nights--Still smokey
IMG_4964.jpg
First View of Steamboat Lake
IMG_4967.jpg
Steamboat Lake--smoke starting to clear!

IMG_4988.jpg
Steamboat Lake from above


To be continued

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!



User avatar
oldranger
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2164
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:18 pm
Location: Bend, Oregon
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Eagle Cap Wilderness--September 2012

Postby oldranger » Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:46 am

Days 3.5 to 7

We reluctantly bypassed Steamboat lake, though I managed an hour of unsuccessful fishing. Our day invloved hiking from 5400 feet to almost 8,000 feet before settling in at Swamp Lake (not at all a good description as it is mostly rock rimmed with a large meadow, not a swamp, at the south end. During this day the smoke finally cleared and the views opened up.
IMG_4990.jpg
Tarn at high point of days hike
During our layover day at this apparentlty fishless lake I did a day hike to fish a lake about a mile and a half to the nne. It took a while but I finally found the ticket to catching fish (the right spot and dropping the z-ray to near the bottom), landed several and kept 3 brookies for dinner.
IMG_4998.jpg
The Lake
IMG_4997.jpg
Dinner


On our next to the last day we had one last climb of about 800 feet before dropping down about 800 feet to our last campsite.
IMG_5013.jpg
Hidden Gem--wandering off trail I looked down on this
IMG_5015.jpg
Looking down on Swamp Lake from high point of trip--all downhill from here!
IMG_5030.jpg
Carl and Cameron--far ahead, as usual
IMG_5032.jpg
Another off trail gem
Having arrived early we spent a leisurely afternoon reading, then a nice evening around the campfire, only our second of the trip.
IMG_5047.jpg
Carl likes big fires

The last day was all down hill but we were confronted with an interesting phenomena. Our campsite was located so as to receive the sun quite early and as we broke camp it was quite warm.
IMG_5051.jpg
Down Canyon, before it got cold!
But after dropping several hundred feet into the shade we walked past meadows still covered in frost and though having walked for 20 minutes had to stop and add a layer and gloves! Within an hour things warmed up and by noon I was out to the trailhead, Carl was laying down, leaning against his pack drinking a beer, and Cameron was hoofing down the road to the truck.
IMG_5055.jpg
Trails End
After negotiating trails and non trails in the wilderness all summer, I finally got lost-- sort of-- in the city as my shortcut to our house was breached by a detour caused by construction that I was unaware of (being gone most of the summer) and every shortcut from the prescribed detour route ended up going the wrong way or at a dead end. Eventually we arrived home, about 9 pm.

Whew! Now I am “only” a year behind in TRs.

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
User avatar
oldranger
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2164
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:18 pm
Location: Bend, Oregon
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Eagle Cap Wilderness--September 2012

Postby maverick » Sat Apr 19, 2014 6:10 pm

Very nice Mike, looks like it was a fun trip, to bad about the smoke.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8028
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Eagle Cap Wilderness--September 2012

Postby rlown » Sat Apr 19, 2014 6:11 pm

A nice report. Thanks for sharing it Mike. What was in the rainbow stomachs? Obviously not a half pound of lures, but they were otherwise belly extended.

Brookies looks slightly stunted but tasty.

It's a shame you didn't have time to touch the "gems".
User avatar
rlown
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 5325
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma and Wilton, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Eagle Cap Wilderness--September 2012

Postby Timberline » Sat Apr 19, 2014 6:57 pm

One of my favorite father-son backpack was to Eagle Cap in '88 when my oldest son was 12. Nice country, and interesting too: it was the first time we experienced a visit by elk right in camp, saw the sun set over a field of vibrant wildflowers, and watched repeated lightning strikes from inside our tent during a storm as the rain/hail drenched the outside. Even that flat tire that greeted us at trailhead on our exit was part of the adventure!

Thanks for the report, and the memories, Old Ranger!
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
User avatar
Timberline
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 216
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 1:55 pm
Location: Prineville, Oregon (Since 7/15/13)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Eagle Cap Wilderness--September 2012

Postby oldranger » Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:54 pm

Russ

later research indicated no fish in either lake.

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
User avatar
oldranger
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2164
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:18 pm
Location: Bend, Oregon
Experience: N/A


Return to Beyond The Sierra Nevada



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest