Following a great first two days of hikes (Mt. Ireland & Catherine Creek Meadows) on our visit to Eastern Oregon Monday’s hike was set to be the longest in the trip, a visit to the Minam River via the Moss Springs Trailhead. We’d set our alarm for 4am in order to try and get as much hiking done during the cooler morning hours as possible. We’d left our motel at 5am and I started having abdominal pain as we drove to the trailhead. We think it was a side effect of my having preemptively taken some over the counter heartburn medication the previous nights since we had been eating richer foods than we typically do. Whatever the cause the my stomach seemed constantly cramped which was affecting my lower back and hips as well. I hoped that whatever was ailing me would subside soon as we set off on the Horse Ranch Trail (Trail 1908).
Entering the Eagle Cap Wilderness.
The trail descended from the trailhead 1.4 miles to a bridge over Horseshoe Creek. Going downhill was particularly painful for me as my cramped muscles protested each time I stepped down.
Scarlet gilia along the trail.
Lewis flax, we were hoping to see it opened up on the way back up to the car but somehow we both completely missed it.
Footbridge over Horseshoe Creek.
Shortly after crossing Horseshoe Creek the trail came close to the Little Minam River.
The trail gradually descended along the river for approximately three miles to a bridge crossing it.
Mountain lady slipper
Little Minam River
Bridge across the Little Minam River.
Little Minam River
I had been forced to take a number of breaks due to the abdominal discomfort including several bouts of dry heaves. Other than my core though I felt good and being just a tad stubborn we continued on from the bridge. On the far side of the bridge we stayed left at a junction with the Jim White Ridge Trail.
The Horse Ranch Trail briefly descended then climbed to a pass a little over 2 miles from the river crossing.
The only area that we encountered showing signs of having burned in the not too distant past.
Junction with the Little Minam Trail (left) just below the pass.
At the pass the trail turned left and began to descend along a ridge.
Soon the trail left the ridge and began a steep descent to a meadow along the Minam River.
The meadow from the trail.
Arriving at the meadow.
The U.S.F.S. owned Red’s Horse Ranch is located in the meadow. This historic ranch was acquired by the Forest Service in 1994 and still has a caretaker. Due to how I was feeling we didn’t actually visit the ranch but instead continued past it to the Minam River where we crossed on another bridge and took a long break across the river from the ranch.
Horses at Red’s Horse Ranch.
I was hoping the long break would finally help my stomach relax but alas it wasn’t to be; so after our break we began the 8 mile trek back up to the car. We stopped at a spring on the way up to the pass to top off our water. For whatever reason I felt way better going uphill than I had downhill or even on level trail which was nice.
Landing strip near Red’s Horse Ranch.
A plane coming in for a landing at the nearby Minam River Lodge.
The pain was back as we descended from the pass but alleviated again every time we climbed. It was the first time I was happy to be climbing on a trail. We missed the flax on the way back up to the car but we did spot several white mariposa lilies which we hadn’t noticed that morning as well as a large patch of broomrape.
Little Minam River
We saw a bunch of these black moths? but they seldom sat still long enough to get a photo.
White mariposa lily
Arriving back at the trailhead.
We arrived back at the car around 3:15pm after the long hike. It was a nice hike but admittedly my issues were a distraction for both of us which kept us from appreciating it as much as we should have.
Heather drove us back to La Grande where I tried taking a bath and eating half a sandwich was the only thing other than water and Gatorade that I’d had all day. Neither helped immediately so I laid down in bed and soon fell asleep. We kept the alarm set in hopes that I would be feeling better in the morning but if I didn’t we’d have to delay our planned hike to Burger Pass. Happy Trails!
Flickr: Minam River via Moss Springs