The original plan was to hike up and spend the night at Mirror Lake and then do the summit the next day but, as things sometimes happen, my plan didn't go the way it was supposed to, and that turned out to be fortunate.
The day before, I had been busy chasing down Washington County highpoints, picking up Franklin, Whitman, Asotin and Garfield. However, what I didn't plan on was the road that led from the Asotin (Wa 129 which becomes Or 3) area to Enterprise in Oregon. The road was a nasty slow windy road and the weather turned to a heavy rain and there were times when I could barely see the road. I also did the usual thing you do when driving in the mountains anymore, I had to watch out for deer and managed to avoid a couple who wanted to cross the road about the time I was going by. Too close for comfort IMO. After reaching Enterprise, I turned west towards the town of Lostine where I picked up the road south towards the TIn Pan trailhead, 20 miles away. So by the time I got to the Tin Pan TH for Eagle Cap, it was almost 11 pm. It was raining heavily so I just went to sleep in the back of my Honda. When I awoke at 5 a.m., the rain had stopped and the clouds were gone. Not being able to backpack in had forced me to do it all in one day, making a 20 mile effort necessary. I hadn't done 20 miles in one heck of a long time (like 20 years) so I began thinking of it as my "Bataan death march" Actually, my 62 year old body needs challenges and this was one I wanted to do now, simply to see if I had it in me.
The thought of standing on top of Eagle Cap was enough to make me WANT to do this one, the lust of a peak drives men to do such things.
And here's yet another view of the mighty Eagle Cap soaring into the sky.
It wasn't long after I had gotten my gear together that fellow SP'er Bill Jacobs pulled up in his vehicle and we met each other for the first time. He and I originally had planned to hook up at Mirror Lake so he was surprised to find me in the TH parking lot. It turned out to be for the best as we found out later on that everyone camped at Mirror Lake had been pretty well drenched by torrential rain during the night.
We made good time up the 10 miles of trail and I found Bill to be a great hiking companion and before long the we got our first really good close up view of the Eagle Cap Wilderness's signature mountain. The remaining couple of miles melted away and we were atop Eagle Cap. We had left the TH at 6 a.m. and reached the summit around 11, a leisurely 5 hours to hike 10 miles and 4000 feet of elevation. We spent probably an hour or more on top admiring the amazing summit views and the wonderland of the Wallowa mountains. To the north of us stood the whitish granite of the Matterhorn, and behind the Matterhorn and slightly to the right, the reddish bulk of Sacajawea, the peak where Bob Bolton would finish up his quest to climb all of the county highpoints of Oregon. Another significant peak that I wanted to climb was to the south, Red Mountain, highpoint of Baker county.
We had lunch, visited with other hikers, most who were from the Tri-cities area of Washington State (my home area) but Clouds started building up to the south of us and since the top of the Wallowa mountain range wasn't a good place to be in a thunderstorm,it was time to lose some elevation. We took our time to get back to our vehicles as we savoured the gorgeous setting on our way down. For a twenty mile day, I felt great although my feet would argue that point a bit. Still, what more can one ask for, a perfect day in the mountains amid amazing scenery and a great companion (plus M&M peanuts and Snicker bars).
One of the bad things about the trail is the amount of horse droppings you must negotiate. Some of the horse riders were not exercising good sense as they let their horses tromp around the fragile meadows. One of the riders seemed to be bigger than the horse she was riding and we figured out that they took turns carrying each other (the horse would carry her, she would carry the horse) but I digress. The Eagle Cap wilderness area is one of those places that have to be experienced to be appreciated. A fantastic area filled with fantastic peaks, I'll be back.
All my pics except the few I put onto summitpost are lost. I had a hard drive crash and I couldn't believe I hadn't backed up the pics I had taken from the Eagle Cap trip plus a bunch of other pics taken in Washington state. Sometimes we have to learn the hard way so I don't have very many pics from that memorable trip.
"So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that's on the worst day of my life."
--Peter Gibbons (Office Space)