Forum Index > Trip Reports > NE Oregon Canyon Hikes - 4/3 and 4/4
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
Soccer_Dad
Member
Member


Joined: 28 Mar 2006
Posts: 180 | TRs
Location: Montevideo, Uruguay (really)
Soccer_Dad
  Top

Member
PostSat Apr 05, 2008 12:39 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Spring break came just in time this year, to let us get away from the pretty brutal Spokane winter, if only for a few days.  I mean, it's been completely ridiculous - we've been lucky to break 40, and there was a foot of snow last weekend.  The temperatures have been dropping steadily since early March!

So the wife and I decided to abandon the kids (with her sister) and head to warmer temperatures.  Here, that means getting lower.  It's not like we're scraping the clouds at our 2340 elevation, but every 1000 feet seems to get us about 5 degrees, so we decided to go low.

Around these parts, that means heading south or west.  We chose south.  Driving from Spokane to NE Oregon is a series of big plateau ups and downs.  We start at our house with snow, drop 500 feet off the bluff into the valley, then climb back to the Palouse Hills (patchy snow), drop into the Palouse River Valley at Colfax (no snow), pop up to the top of the basalt plateau north of Lewiston (pretty constant snow), drop down into Lewiston (warm, no snow), climb out of the Snake River Valley to the 4300' bulge that is the eastern edge of the Blue Mountains (winter conditions still), and then finally dropped into the Grande Ronde Valley, down 2500', for spring and the first 50+ degree weather we'd seen in a long time.

From the Grande Ronde, you head west along the river to Troy, Oregon, for our first hike, the Wenaha River Valley.  I was really pleasantly surprised at how nice this valley was in early April on a pretty heavy snow year.

In a nutshell, if it wasn't 3 hours from Spokane, I'd be here all the time in the fall and spring.  It was very nice - had most of everything I want in a hike.  We saw deer, a red-crested woodpecker (flew away before I could snap it), geology, rocks, water, a lot of relief, a nice trail, meadows, etc.  The flowers could have been better (a few shooting stars was really all there was), but it was early.

Wenaha dike
Wenaha dike

One of the many forested meadows---The Wenaha River---------------------Source of some of the Columbia River Basalts.

So we went out and back to the first confluence, a distance of about 2.5 miles, to the border of the National Forest.  After the hike we resumed our journey through the plateau and canyon country by climbing up out of the valleys to the basalt plateau between Troy and Enterprise.  And back to winter.  There really wasn't a hint of spring up there.  A nice place to stop for an overview is the Joseph Canyon overlook, to get a good feel for the complex topography/climate in this area.
Joseph Creek, and spring weather, 2000 feet below us.

The drive continues south, off that plateau, to the thriving metropolis of Enterprise, for a night in the motel.  No snow there, and fairly warm, so we were back in spring again.  We'd highly recommend Heavenly's for their pretty darn cheap but tasty burgers and fries, served out of a sliding window and eaten on the picnic tables outside.

The next morning we resumed our Odyssey by tackling the hike I really wanted to do, the Imnaha River hike.  For a day hike, especially from Spokane, it's just too far.  It's about 4 hours to Enterprise, maybe another 45 minutes to the tiny hamlet of Imnaha, and another hour (ouch) on the "not-recommended-for-passenger-vehicles" 15 mile stretch of dirt road.  Add it all up, and you could spend 11 1/2 hours to do a 10 mile hike.  Not really recommended.  But we were in the area, so our incremental time wasn't so bad.  Again, we left spring in Enterprise, climbed up to winter on the plateau, and then headed down into the Imnaha River Valley, losing elevation and gaining warmth by the minute.  Cutting to the conclusion, we succeeded!  We hiked in shorts with temps in the mid 60's.

The hike itself was a pleasant surprise to this former geologist.  The road basically ends when the Imnaha River cuts down low enough to get under the basalts.  At that point, it is in "granite" (to the layman, probably an andesite to an igneous geologist).  Anyway, that stuff is very hard, and the river here forms a pretty steep-walled canyon that leaves no room for a road.  The trail had to be hacked out of the cliffs in many cases, by the CCC in the 1930's.  Anyway, it's very reminiscent of the inner Grand Canyon (although not as wide).  And geologically, the contact between the basalt and "granite" rises as you go east, so by the time you are at the Snake River, you can't see any basalt at all, probably up 3000 feet or so.

The fishing must be pretty good, because there must have been 20-30 people there on a Thursday afternoon (where the total population within a 90 minute drive couldn't have been more than 150).  But we hikers left them behind in the first 10 minutes.  The length to the Snake River was about 4 miles - we took 1:45 each way.  The trip can be lengthened along the river another mile north (and theoretically back up a stream and over the plateau from there) but we were both a little gimpy (50 year old knees) so we didn't want to press the first longer outing.

The vegetation is pretty desert-y.  There was a single ponderosa pine on the river.  Nothing was blooming either, so that was a tad disappointing.  The trail was nice.  It also looked like the blackberry thorns would be nasty if they hadn't been cleared recently.
Upstream and downstream views of the Imnaha Canyon, and a view showing the granite canyon sitting under the thousands of feet of basalt.

Hiking in shorts and a T-shirt--------Our first view of the Snake River-----------At the confluence, looking upstream

So, after a successful hike, we were left with a couple more climate transistions - back up to winter on the plateau, down to spring in Elgin, Oregon, over the Blue Mountains (with snow above the roof of our Subaru) to Walla Walla (to spend the night with Amy's mother) and temps in the mid-60's.

...Got home today and froze my *** off at my son's high school soccer game, with horizontal rain and temps in the low 40's.

John
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
trailjunky
Backcountry Bumpkin'



Joined: 14 Jun 2004
Posts: 1124 | TRs
Location: timberline
trailjunky
  Top

Backcountry Bumpkin'
PostSat Apr 05, 2008 12:56 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Sweeet!  I'm so jealous.  We were to backpack into the Snake via the Inmaha three weeks ago and stuck out due to bag weather, thank god Ancient and Dusty lakes bailed us out.  I have been wondering about the Wenaha, wondering if it was hikeable yet, looks like it is! up.gif   Awesome report, with awesome weather.  Looks like you guys timed this one perfectly, way to go.  And can you believe it, its snowing again here in Spokane as I speak, or type, whatever, you know what I mean.  Looks like we will have a good chance of getting those last 5 inches of snow to make it the biggest snow year in Spokane history, or at least for as long as they have been recording snow fall.  Where the hell is spring. mad.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
peltoms
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jul 2006
Posts: 1762 | TRs
Location: Worcester MA
peltoms
  Top

Member
PostSat Apr 05, 2008 4:15 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Snake looks awesome.  I have been in Joeseph Canyon, but not Wenaha River, which looks pretty full.  Any good contact metamorphism at granite basalt contact?
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
gone
Member
Member


Joined: 08 Feb 2008
Posts: 1051 | TRs

gone
  Top

Member
PostSat Apr 05, 2008 7:59 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Great report!  That's a lot of work for a little spring, but I'd do it myself for some 60s.   up.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Soccer_Dad
Member
Member


Joined: 28 Mar 2006
Posts: 180 | TRs
Location: Montevideo, Uruguay (really)
Soccer_Dad
  Top

Member
PostSat Apr 05, 2008 5:02 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
peltoms wrote:
Snake looks awesome.  I have been in Joeseph Canyon, but not Wenaha River, which looks pretty full.  Any good contact metamorphism at granite basalt contact?

I didn't see the actual contact.  It looked to be buried under debris in the area near the trailhead, and quickly is over your head on the hike.

It looked like an interesting area.  I have a hypothesis that the reason the dirt road is such a pain is that the river cuts down into another andesite hill, which forces the road up and over a few basalt benches.  I would have liked to have gotten a close-up view, rather than the view from 1000' up.

John
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
speyguy
Member
Member


Joined: 04 Jul 2007
Posts: 73 | TRs
Location: NE Portland, OR
speyguy
  Top

Member
PostSat Apr 05, 2008 9:21 pm 
Wenaha
Reply to topic Reply with quote
The Wenaha is one of my favorite hikes. I have hiked it about 5 times from Elk Flat down to Troy. It's about 27 miles one way and you can get a local shuttle service to move your car. Great fly fishing for rainbow and bull trout. You can even see the occasional Chinook salmon at the right time of year. There are lots of black bears in the canyon and I have never failed to see at least one on each of my hikes there. I have some photos on my photo page link under "Eastern OR river hike" of my last trip.

I like the Imnaha as well, but have only hiked the upper section from Indian Crossing on up. The lower section gets a summer run of steelhead that would still be in the river from last summer. I suspect that's what all the people were fishing for before it closes on April 15th. Great country!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Spotly
Member
Member


Joined: 06 Jan 2004
Posts: 3721 | TRs
Location: Mead (Near Spokane)
Spotly
  Top

Member
PostSat Apr 05, 2008 9:27 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Nice TRa and pics. That's a great area this time of year except (as you said) that loooooong drive from Spone and the even longer one coming back. I left Spokane this morning to snow and was sitting in the hot sun at Vantage just a short time later. Sure is hard coming back after being spoiled like that isn't it?!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Quark
Niece of Alvy Moore



Joined: 15 May 2003
Posts: 14147 | TRs

Quark
  Top

Niece of Alvy Moore
PostSat Apr 05, 2008 10:07 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Wonderful trip report!  I only hiked a little on Wenaha River a few years ago.  Unfortunately, I discovered the area too late in my trip to stay longer.  Looks like a fantastic trip; relaxing and idyllic views.

Here's a pic of a dike from the Grande Ronde River Road.  I too, was very excited to be in this area, among the origins of the basalt flows  up.gif

Dikes en eschelon
Dikes en eschelon

--------------
"...Other than that, the post was more or less accurate."

Bernardo, NW Hikers' Bureau Chief of Reporting
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Hiker Mama
Member
Member


Joined: 25 Jun 2006
Posts: 3344 | TRs
Location: Lynnwood
Hiker Mama
  Top

Member
PostSat Apr 05, 2008 10:08 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
That looks like a very cool trip!

When I was a kid we camped one time on the Imnaha with my aunt and uncle and cousins.  There was an amazing run of salmon, and they were so mean looking with their hooked beaks, angry red and green colors, and fungal patches, they scared us kids to death.  They would swim toward the shore with their mouths agape and we thought they would come out after us!  My Mom and Dad and brother and one of my cousins and I went up the trail for an overnighter away from the main camp.  We spent the night on a rock outcropping and saw the most amazing stars.

Thanks for bringing back some memories!  I'm glad you got some warmth before you headed back to winter.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trip Reports > NE Oregon Canyon Hikes - 4/3 and 4/4
  Happy Birthday Washington Coyote!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy