Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lake Wallowa, Oregon

We have been staying in Walla Walla, Washington since last Thursday visiting with my brother John and his wife.  Being here has also given us the opportunity to also visit with their son Matthew and his family.  We have toured the sites of Walla Walla on other visits, so when my brother and his wife Linda left town for their vacation at Lake Wallowa, we followed them and spent a couple of relaxing days at the lake with them.
This lake is located at the foothills of steep forested mountains( which have the same name as the lake) in the northeast corner of Oregon.  It is a magical land and a land much loved by the Nez Perce people who inhabited it for over 12,000 years.  They ceded lands to the United States in 1855, but kept the heart of their domain, including the Wallowas, as a homeland for their exclusive use.  However, the discovery of gold led the government to make new treaties and eventually the tribe was moved to reservation land in Idaho.
One of the first things John and I did when we arrived at the lake was to join John and Linda on a tram ride to the summit of Mount Howard.  From the tram we had a wonderful view of the Eagle Cap Wilderness, as well as that of the clear blue waters of Lake Wallowa.  We were greeted at the top by a guide who offered to take us on some of the groomed trails which circumnavigate the summit.   She told us of the history of Chief Joseph and his Nez Perce tribe, as well as pointed out some of the flora and fauna of the alpine forest as we traversed through it.  Wild flowers are in abundance on the alpine meadow, pictured below are pink heather and lupine.  We also saw a lot of the golden buckwheat and penstemon.
There is a lot of white-barked pine on the summit.  We have the Clark's Nutcracker to thank for the presence of the trees.  He caches the pine seed all over the forest and what he does not eat grows into trees. It is a chunky grey bird with black wings and white wing patches.  His irritating drawn out kra-a-a call is the loudest sound to be heard on the summit.
After our guide left us we continued to wander over the trails of the summit, taking the last tram car down.  Just before we boarded a deer wandered over the path in front of us.  That is part of the charm of Lake Wallowa- deer are wandering everywhere, they seemed to have adjusted to the presence of humans.  Also scurrying hither and yon around us were ground squirrels, chipmunks, and marmots.

No comments:

Post a Comment