The Wallowa mountains are located in the northeastern part of Oregon and are part of the Columbia Plateau. The Wallowa Batholith is formed of granite from a magma upwelling in Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous time. The placement of this rock caused uplift of the surface, which at the time was tropical sea. There is no doubt that the Wallowa mountains offer some of the most amazing scenery anywhere located in the lower 48 states. It has the second largest roadless wilderness in the lower 48 and it boasts 37 peaks over 8,000 feet. There are endless amounts of hiking trails throughout the wilderness and you can expect to see some of the most diverse ecosystems and wildlife anywhere. However, if you want to explore the Wallowa’s, you will want to plan on bringing your A game! The trails are very steep, long and very strenuous. The entire wilderness area is a backpackers dream but if you are only planning a day trip you will want to study your options very carefully since most of the mountain lakes are over a day hike away. You literally will be pushing your athletic limits just to get to your destination and then you have to hike out again. There are some really good books that will show you all of the hundreds of trails available and then you will just need to decide on your route. The most popular place in the wilderness is right near Wallowa lake state park. The park offers one of the best campgrounds and there are several lodges, yurts and cabins. Most of the backpackers start from this spot since there are a lot of parking spots available and it seems to be the most popular place to start. In fact, most of the best trails start from here and when you get back to your car there are plenty of places where you can immediately get some food or find a place to wash up or crash. I’ve camped at the park several times but I have never backpacked so I have spent a lot of time researching the best trails to start from in order to take advantage of the best things to see and do. However, you will want to keep in mind that if you find a trailhead that you want to start from you will want too keep in mind that most of the forest roads that take your desired spot are very rough and you may need a rig that has a high clearance and possibly 4 wheel drive. Again, this is rough country and the only place where you can avoid the need to go off road to find a trail is from the Wallowa lake campground area. The wilderness is like a giant circle of mountains and you can enter from almost anywhere in order to start your hike but you will find that most of the roads leading to your hiking spot is very primitive and hard to get to. The photo that I posted was taken from Aneroid lake and it’s a very difficult 12 mile hike round trip. The elevation gain was 2,950 and you will feel the pain when you get back to your campsite. However, the views are epic and you will come across some of the most amazing scenery that offers too many to list. No matter what trail you decide on, you can pretty much guarantee that your destination will take you to either a lake or a nearby river. This means that you will want to pack a pair of swim trunks and plan on going for a swim if it’s warm enough. However, the rivers can and are pretty treacherous so you will want to be sure that you aren’t swimming anywhere near a waterfall. The rivers are absolutely massive and thunderous and can really ruin your day. However, there are millions of places where the rivers become very slow and calm and will literally be telling you to dawn your swim suite. You will also want to bring as much food as you can possibly carry. You will absolutely burn enough energy to fuel the space shuttle and you won’t want to have to turn around early because your food supply has gotten too low. You also want to be sure and pack a good camera since there are a lot of wildlife that make the Wallow mountains home. Some that you may see are: eagle, hawks, osprey, black bear, elk, deer, moose, fox, coyote and even wolf. I’m sure that I have left some out but you get the picture.
[/caption] The Eagle Cap Wilderness is part of the Wallowa mountains in Eastern Oregon and if you’re looking for some amazing hiking trails and beautiful scenery, I would plan a trip during the summer months. The snow can last as long as July in the higher elevations, so unless you plan on bringing your snow shoes, you may want to wait until late July to Early August before having the ability to hike well into the interior of the Eagle Cap Wilderness area. The water is so abundant that you will find yourself surrounded by raging waterfalls, creeks and rivers well into late summer. And since the scenery is so diverse and overrun with colors, you may want to bring a tripod in order to avoid any blur or camera shake due to your camera sensor having a difficult time choosing a focal point. The meadows are filled with wildflowers, the mountains are craggy and millions of shadowed drop offs create lots of shade and the forest floor are teeming with green vegetation, which would cause most high elevation mountain ranges to be envious.
[/caption] The Bonneville mountains are located in the Eagle Cap wilderness and are located just east of Eagle Cap mountain. Eagle Cap mountain is actually just behind Bonneville mountain but isn’t viewable from the area where I was standing. The lake in the foreground is Aneroid lake but if you want to get a view of Eagle Cap you would pretty much have to hike back towards the Wallowa Lake trailhead and head up the Ice Lake trail. There is another hiking trail past Aneroid lake but that hike takes you towards Dollar lake and I’m not sure if you would have a very good view of Eagle Cap.
[/caption] Aneroid Lake is a 12 mile round trip hike that starts at the Wallowa Lake trailhead and gains a total of 3000 feet of elevation gain. You will experience some of the most amazing and mind boggling beauty that you can imagine. The hike itself is pretty difficult so you will want to bring plenty of snacks and water. It took me about 9 hours to complete the entire hike but I did end up spending several hours photographing the mountains as well as the meadows and wildflowers that surround the higher elevations. There are a few campsites available along Aneroid lake and if you’re a backpacker this is definitely a hike that you won’t want to pass up. Due to the distance of the hike and the elevation gain I decided not to bring my tripod and I’m really glad I didn’t. However, I did bring three of my lenses in order to take advantage of the photographic opportunities. This particular photo was taken just below one of the campgrounds along the lakes edge. 9,702 foot Aneroid mountain and 9,675 foot Pete’s Point mountain is visible behind Aneroid lake, looking south. There are dozens of rivers, waterfalls, ponds and creeks all along the hike. There are also several meadows sprawling with wildflowers so you may want to bring along a macro lens. Since I wasn’t using a tripod I made sure to keep a steady hand and turned on the IS. I kept the camera in Program/Normal mode and attached my CIR-PL and warming filter. I had the ISO at 100 and adjusted the white balance in order to take advantage of the glare and saturation of the bright sun. I set the focal length at 17mm in order to get the most panoramic shot as possible as well as include the lakes edge in the bottom of the shot as well as the blue sky in the horizon. I was concerned that parts of the photo would be blurry or out of focus due to the direction of the shot I took or the fact that I had to position the camera at about a 30 degree angle looking down. Some of my shots did end up blurry and somewhat shaky but overall they turned out pretty good. I noticed that most of my photo that I took vertically were better than most of my horizontal shots.