Categories
Hiking Oregon Trip report Wallowas

Burger Pass – 07/12/2022

I’d spent all of Monday hiking with abdominal pain so I was very happy to wake up Tuesday feeling fine. On tap for today was the highest elevation hike in the Wallows for this trip (Mt. Ireland on Saturday (post) was higher but that peak is part of the Elkhorns.) and we weren’t sure how much snow we might encounter. We did have our microspikes with us just in case.

The hike to Burger Pass begins at the Buck Creek Forest Camp and Trailhead.
IMG_7205

The Elk Creek Trail (Trail 1944) leads from this trailhead to 7848′ Burger Pass near the 4.5 mile mark then down to Burger Meadows and eventually on to the Minam River. Sullivan’s featured hike is to Burger Pass which was our goal for the day but we had also left open the possibility of visiting the meadows if conditions were good.
IMG_7206

IMG_7215

IMG_7217At the 0.7 mile mark the trail briefly followed an old road bed to an old clearcut.

IMG_7218

IMG_7221Trail sign in the old clearcut.

IMG_7225Sullivan describes the second mile of this trail as one of the dustiest in Oregon but on this morning there was enough moisture in the ground to keep the dust at a minimum.

IMG_7230Rock Creek Butte (post) in the Elkhorns from the clearcut.

The trail climbed steeply following an old roadbed out of the clearcut following a ridge before leaving the ridge and bending SE near the 2 mile mark.
IMG_7236

IMG_7239Shortly after leaving the ridge we encountered the largest obstacle on the way to the pass.

IMG_7240The Elkhorns in the distance.

The trail made a long switchback and entered the Eagle Cap Wilderness as it rounded the same ridge that we’d been following earlier.
IMG_7243Granite at the switchback.

IMG_7406Entering the wilderness (photo from the way back).

The trail then traversed a granite hillside to a large slide below Burger Butte.
IMG_7252Valerian along the trail.

IMG_7258View from the trail.

IMG_7265Burger Butte

IMG_7269Rosy paintbrush

20220712_075037

IMG_7274Tributary of Middle Fork Catherine Creek.

IMG_7275Looking down the creek over the slide.

IMG_7276

IMG_7279Yellow columbine

After reentering the forest we began to encounter the first patches of snow.
IMG_7280The snow began around 7200′.

IMG_7282Snow over the Elk Creek Trail.

IMG_7286China Cap from the trail.

The trail crossed another tributary of Middle Fork Catherine Creek below a beautiful pair of cascades.
IMG_7288

IMG_7290

IMG_7292Small meadow below the trail.

Approximately 3.5 miles from the trailhead we came to an unsigned junction with the China Ridge Trail.
IMG_7295The China Ridge Trail joining from the left.

We stayed on the Elk Creek Trail as it climbed for another scenic mile to the pass below Burger Butte.
IMG_7302

IMG_7304

IMG_7305The Elkhorns to the right beyond Burger Butte.

IMG_7309

IMG_7311Lyall’s Rockcress

IMG_7317The few patches of snow were just melted enough to allow us to avoid having to walk over them.

IMG_7318Burger Pass

The view from Burger Pass was great. There was a large snow patch over the trail but it was fairly level and soft so it didn’t require the microspikes.
IMG_7319Burger Butte from the pass.

IMG_7320Looking deeper into the Wallowas.

IMG_7326The snow patch below Burger Butte.

I decided to go ahead and attempt the 350′ descent to Burger Meadows while Heather opted to stay at the pass. From Burger Pass the Elk Creek Trail descends three quarters a mile to a junction with the Sand Pass Trail.
IMG_7329

IMG_7330

IMG_7332There were several patches of snow and some downed trees to navigate but I soon found myself at the junction.

IMG_7333

IMG_7336

I turned right on the Sand Pass Trail to see more of the meadows.
IMG_7340

IMG_7341The Sand Pass Trail can be seen climbing out of the basin in the sandy gap to the center left.

IMG_7344Meadow lookout.

IMG_7345View from the meadow.

IMG_7346Buttercups were about the only flowers blooming in the wet meadow.

IMG_7348The rocks along the ridge were really interesting.

IMG_7349

IMG_7352

IMG_7353Marmot? in the meadow.

I followed the trail about four tenths of a mile before stopping at Elk Creek where a large snow drift lingered on the far side.
IMG_7357

IMG_7360

I climbed back up to Burger Pass and once Heather got my attention we started back down arriving at the car a little before 12:30pm.
IMG_7374Golden mantled ground squirrel watching us from the granite.

20220712_102723Butterfly

IMG_7381Mountain heather

IMG_7393Mushrooms near the Middle Fork Catherine Creek cascades.

IMG_7397Jacob’s ladder

IMG_7405Penstemon

IMG_7415Mushroom

IMG_7424Pacific coralroot

Including my visit to the meadows this was a 11.5 mile, 2800′ elevation gain hike which turned out to be our favorite of the trip (Mt. Ireland (post) being a close second.)

We picked up a late lunch/early dinner from Yia Yia Nikki’s which turned out to be a wonderful choice on what was the hottest day of the week. We packed up as much as possible that night in preparation of moving from La Grande to Wallowa for the next two nights. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Burger Pass

Categories
Hiking Oregon Trip report Wallowas

Catherine Creek Meadows – 07/10/2022

We’d spent the night in Baker City following our hike to the Mt. Ireland Lookout (post). Our plan for the next six days was to do five more of the “featured hikes” (post) from Sullivan’s 3rd edition “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Eastern Oregon” then before heading home on Friday do the Wallowa Homeland hike which is featured in Sullivan’s most recent 2022 edition of “100 Hikes Eastern Oregon”. Because the hikes were spread out along the western and northern sides of the Wallowas we would be moving our base of operations a couple of times during the week starting with a move to La Grande for Sunday through Tuesday nights.

Sunday morning we packed everything up and headed for the North Fork Catherine Creek Trailhead. After navigating the pothole filled FR 7785 we pulled into the large trailhead parking area.
IMG_6597

IMG_6598A $5 fee is required here and at several other trailheads we visited during the week. (An annual NW Forest Pass can be used instead.)

The trail doesn’t start at the parking area but rather another tenth of a mile up the road so we road walked to the official trailhead.
IMG_6600

The trail initially climbs above the creek to an open hillside, that was putting on a pretty good wildflower display, before descending to a bridge a little after 1.5 miles.
IMG_6608Lots of purple venus penstemon.

IMG_6613There were also some white scabland penstemon on the hillside.

IMG_6614Buckwheat

20220710_061539Venus penstemon

IMG_6619Lupine and stonecrop

IMG_6624Paintbrush

IMG_6625North Fork Catherine Creek

20220710_062027Douglas dustymaiden

20220710_062112Spreading dogbane

IMG_6634The trail crossed several side creeks, all of which were we were able to cross dry footed.

IMG_6636A brief stretch along North Fork Catherine Creek.

IMG_6637Queen’s cup

IMG_6638Another side creek.

IMG_6640Bog orchid

IMG_6641Spotted coralroot

IMG_6642A fleabane

One of the more interesting things we’ve witnessed was watching carpenter ants removing sawdust from a dead log and dropping it in a pile below.
IMG_6652

IMG_6653They’re a little blurry but you can see the ants in the cracks where they would drop their sawdust. It was fascinating to watch and we paused for quite a while.

IMG_6658Columbine

20220710_064502Mountain lady slippers

20220710_065926Large-flower triteleia

IMG_6685Back above the creek.

IMG_6692The bridge over Catherine Creek.

IMG_6693

IMG_6695Bluebells next to the bridge.

The trail climbed gradually for the next three and a half miles before reaching Catherine Creek Meadows.
IMG_6700

IMG_6704

IMG_6708Crab spider

IMG_6710Another type of penstemon

20220710_073039Rosy pussytoes

IMG_6713A side creek running down the trail.

20220710_073735Yellow columbine

IMG_6720Entering the Eagle Cap Wilderness.

IMG_6726Jim Creek, this was one of the trickier crossings.

IMG_6735Hound’s tongue

IMG_6737Nettle-leaf giant hyssop

IMG_6750One of several smaller meadows along the trail.

IMG_6751Jacob’s ladder

IMG_6752California corn lily and bluebells.

20220710_082334Boot Hill Creek was also tricky as it had taken over the trail.

IMG_6765

IMG_6766A large patch of coralroot.

IMG_6772A few remaining balsamroot blooming above North Fork Catherine Creek.

IMG_6777Arriving at Catherine Creek Meadows.

Up until this point we had been very lucky this year with mosquitos but the meadows were very wet and the recent warm weather had the bugs out in decent numbers so we couldn’t linger in any one spot too long but we did take a short break at a campsite near a side creek.
IMG_6778

IMG_6779

IMG_6786All the black dots in the blue sky were gnats flying over the stream at the trail crossing.

heart-leaved bittercressHeart-leaved bittercress

Our goal for the day lay about a half mile away, an early 1900’s log cabin at the far end of the meadow. After our break we set off across the creek following what became an increasingly wet trail to a junction where we forked left.
IMG_6791

IMG_6794

IMG_6799Looking back at the sign post in the meadow marking the trail junction.

IMG_6802Another dry section of trail.

IMG_6803It wasn’t dry for long.

IMG_6806Yellow buttercups and pink elephant’s head.

IMG_6807

IMG_6805Elephant’s head, one of our favorites.

IMG_6810Ladybug

IMG_6814Nearing the cabin.

IMG_6816

IMG_6817Ground squirrel

IMG_6819

IMG_6820Squatter running from the cabin.

We checked out the inside of the cabin before heading back.
IMG_6821

IMG_6822

It was only 9:45am when we started back so we took our time and kept an eye out for anything we’d missed on our first pass.
IMG_6831Beetle

IMG_6836Another beetle and Nevada bitterroot.

IMG_6839Brunch

IMG_6845A comma of some sort.

IMG_6848Big mushroom

IMG_6852Something from the Lycaenidae family.

IMG_6855Coneflower

IMG_6874Swallow-tail on red clover.

IMG_6882Fritilary on clover

IMG_6897Mourning cloak perched overhead.

IMG_6899Lorquin’s admiral

IMG_6900A tortoiseshell

IMG_6903Skullcap, one of the hardest flowers to get a decent picture of for some reason.

IMG_6910Tapertip onion

IMG_6915Yarrow and other wildflowers up the hillside.

Our hike came in at 11.8 miles with approximately 1450′ of elevation gain.

From the trailhead we drove to La Grande and checked into our Motel, after hanging out at a park for about an hour because we’d arrived a bit too early, and then headed to Side A Brewing for an early dinner. It was going to be a warm week so we turned in early planning on another 4am wake-up the next morning to beat as much of the heat as we could. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Catherine Creek Meadows