As far as we know we didn’t have any mountain goat visitors during our night at Lower Twin Lake but I did wake up once and managed to see a streak across the sky which I assume was part of the Perseid meteor shower. Another goat did pass close by in the morning though as we were preparing to leave.
It wasn’t nearly as chilly as it had been the previous morning and the air had gotten quite a bit hazier overnight.
The increased smoke made us thankful that we had made our climb up Rock Creek Butte the day before instead of waiting until this morning. We had a fairly straight forward day planned as we would simply be returning the way we’d come the day before minus the side trip up to Rock Creek Butte’s summit. We were still seriously considering not going all the way back to Summit Lake which would be approximately a 13 mile hike. We figured we could shorten that by nearly a mile if we set up camp near one of the streams along the Summit Lake Trail.
As we began the mile climb from Lower Twin Lake back to the Elkhorn Crest Trail we passed the mountain goat who had stop to graze.
A little further along we spotted three deer doing the same in a patch of yellow wildflowers.
The hoofed animals weren’t the only ones out this morning.
As we climbed away from the Twin Lakes Rock Creek Butte came into view.
When we reached the Elkhorn Crest Trail we turned left and headed toward Rock Creek Butte where we spotted another mountain goat coming down the ridge where we had gone up the day before.
It turned out to be a mountain goat filled morning. As we were passing around the western side of Rock Creek Butte a herd of goats came up from the valley below. Some of them crossed the trail in front of us while others stayed down in the trees until we passed.
We had another encounter a short while later as I passed around a rock outcropping and came face to face with a goat heading south on the trail. We were both equally startled and the goat quickly leapt downhill behind more rocks.
The increased smoke limited the views on the way back so we focused more on the things along the trail.
Mt. Ruth to the north
Rock Creek Butte to the south
Looking east toward the Wallowas
Curiosity got the best of Heather as we came to a jeep track heading uphill to a ridge 9.3 miles from the Twin Lakes Trail junction and 1.2 miles before the Summit Lake junction.
Wondering if there might be a view of Summit Lake from the ridge we followed it steeply uphill only to discover that the angle was wrong and we were looking north over Little Summit Lake which was hidden in the trees below.
We were feeling relatively good all things considered so we had decided to go all the way to Summit Lake and stay there again only this time we would take the first available camp site we came too instead of going half way around the lake. We arrived at the lake to find it a little smokier than we had left it the morning before but it was still a great lake.
We were the only people there when we arrived and did indeed set up camp in the first available spot.
We were later joined by a solo backpacker who we had passed along the Summit Lake Trail. We spent the afternoon lounging around camp and hanging out with the locals.
The total distance for the day was just a bit over 13 miles but there had been a lot less elevation gain making it a fairly mild day. We were dealing with some blisters and Heather was having a little issue with an ankle that was being bruised by her shoe which told her it was time for a new pair. The good news was the next two days were only going to be around 10 miles each, but we were facing some more climbing on day four along the Lost Lake Trail which I had been told was steep and rocky. We turned in after memorizing the route for the following day. Happy Trails!
Flickr: Elkhorn Crest Trail Day 3