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NATURALLY


Sunrise, Swamp Creek, Eagle Cap Wilderness, Oregon, August 2008


home, closely held beliefs and religion, beauty and dreams. During my visits to the Wallowa Mountains, I


may have sensed a bit of how Joseph’s character might have been shaped by the area. From what I have read, it seems that Chief Joseph was not above forgiveness. I wonder whether this may have come from living one’s life in a landscape that is beautiful. From living in a land that is harsh during the winter months yet plentiful during the spring, summer and autumn. My wife, Diane, and I have made a couple


of backpacking trips to the Wallowas during recent summers. The Eagle Cap Wilderness comprises nearly 360,000 acres in the heart of the Wallowa Mountains. The Eagle Cap is one


56 SPOKANE CDA • July - August • 2011


of our region’s premier wilderness areas. With numerous peaks ranging from 8,000 feet to just below 10,000 feet in elevation, the mountains rise abruptly above the Wallowa River Valley and Joseph, Oregon, (approximately 4,200 feet) on their northeastern front. The wilderness is named after 9,572 foot


Eagle Cap, one of the highest peaks in the Wallowa Mountains. Eagle Cap is located near the heart of the Wallowas and until surveyors proved otherwise, it was once thought to be the highest peak in the range. Eagle Cap’s location is central to the headwaters of five major drainages that radiate outward from it, including the Minam, Lostine, Wallowa and Imnaha Rivers and Eagle Creek. The rivers that


originate in the Wallowas are all tributaries of the Snake River. The location of the Wallowas is in the rainshadow of the Cascades. One need only visit the Wallowa Valley to understand how these waters are a blessing to this corner of Oregon. Without knowing the exact numbers, it might


be safe to guess that more than 80 percent of the users of the Eagle Cap Wilderness visit the Lakes Basin area. The more than two- dozen sparkling blue lakes scattered about the light colored granitic mountains are the main attraction. The Lakes Basin area’s lakes are located from 7,000 to 8,500 feet in elevation. The relatively dry climate and high elevation provide for sparse vegetation. When water is


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