Sunday, September 24, 2017

Steens Mountain Wilderness, Oregon

Ben and I fled an incoming storm in the Sawtooths and headed for a "drier" forecast in SE Oregon. The weather turned out to be pretty bad, but Steens Mountain still is an interesting destination with very cool topography (for the parts we could see). We also saw an angry badger, wild horses, pronghorn antelope, coyotes, deer, and various birds including sandhill cranes and a golden eagle (which I hadn't seen since Mongolia). It was well worth it.

~24 miles, 4700' gain

A BLM-managed wilderness

Looking back west after leaving the trailhead in the campground

Big Indian Creek gorge

Aspens not ready to give up

Ben in upper Big Indian gorge

Big Indian gorge; Ben's picture

Starting the climb up to the plateau; Ben's picture

Snowy brush! Classic Luke & Ben fall trip...Ben's photo

Reaching the plateau at 9000'

Cold and windy

Every year we end up like this... Ben's picture

Angry, angry Badger; Ben's picture

Little Blitzen River gorge, from near the plateau rim

Ben peering down Little Blitzen

Waterfall and icicles

Looking back on the hike out

One of the wild horses on the drive out

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sawtooth Wilderness, Idaho

Every year Ben and I have moved our fall road trip earlier than the past year's trip, hoping to have good weather. We may have had the worst overall weather this year, but still counted the trip as a success after doing an amazing traverse of the eastern half of the Sawtooth Wilderness in Idaho.

With 20 of the 40 miles being cross country, it was scenic, offered a lot of solitude, and was extremely difficult. I'm already looking forward to going back for the western half next year.

Day 1, Pettit Lake to above Alpine Lake

Good trailhead display

Trailhead map with our route drawn in

Always nice to avoid a ford; Ben's picture

First major pass at 9300'

Looking toward Imogene Lake

Imogene Lake

Start of our day cross country

Perfect examples of lateral moraines, with Hell Roaring Lake

Looking up at Finger of Fate

Lunch tarn, below Finger of Fate

Climbing up to the pass below Finger of Fate

Pass below Finger of Fate; Ben's picture

Not bad if it hadn't been snowy

Midway down; Ben's picture

Looking back up the snowy gully below the Finger of Fate

More lakes, on the cross country section

Looking back at Finger of Fate and our descent gully
Big talus, Little Ben

Saddleback Lake and Elephant's Perch

Fulfilling our twofie quota

Camp time, the smaller lake above Alpine Lake
Day 2, Alpine Lake area to Iron Creek trailhead

Showing the next five miles of cross country to the high pass at center left

More granite, more lakes

Getting closer to our high pass at center right

More granite, more lakes

Ben's picture

Ben headed to the first pass to access our high pass

Our first pass, with the southern Sawtooth Range beyond; Ben's picture

Southern Sawtooth Range

Traversing to the high pass below Thomson Peak

Looking back at our tracks coming down the first pass

Southern Sawtooth Range from our high pass at 10,400' 

Looking north, with frozen lakes

Looking back at the high pass; we had to go around the snow on crap scree

Day two lunch next to a half-frozen tarn

Looking down the lower basin area

Looking back up toward the upper basin

Ben in the lower basin

Looking down the last bit to Goat Lake

Ben along the Goat Lake boot path, then down to the trailhead