Of course the anticipated highlight of day four of our road trip was the arrival of our daughter, Amy, in the evening. Amy secured a half day of vacation in order to make the five plus hour drive from Portland to Wallowa Lake State Park. We were very anxious for her to join us.
Would we simply idle away the hours at the campground, as we awaited her appearance? Of course not. We transported our mountain bikes from Denver to Oregon, and we decided that Thursday was the day to spin the tires. On Tuesday we asked Sara at the national forest service office about cycling trails, and she suggested an area by Ferguson Ridge Ski Area. On our way back from fishing at Kinney Lake on Wednesday we detoured to the ski area road, but all we found was a fairly steep packed dirt road. We decided this was too much work and discarded it as a cycling destination.
I followed our route on Oregon 82 on the road map on Tuesday, as we approached Joseph, OR, and I noticed several back roads that connected Joseph and Enterprise. Enterprise is the next town downstream from Joseph along the Wallowa River. The map was not very detailed, but it was clear, that we could complete a loop from Joseph to Enterprise and back without touching the busy Oregon 82 highway.
The weather on Thursday morning was quite nice, although we could not bank on that bit of good fortune to continue indefinitely, so we hustled to put on our cycling clothes and loaded the mountain bikes on the bike rack. In a flash we traveled from the state park to a public park in Joseph, and we parked the car there and began our loop ride.
For the first half of the ride we followed Wallowa Avenue to Airport Lane and then turned right on to Hurricane Creek Road. We were thrilled with the lush green farmland and the snow capped ridges in the distance. The ranches in the area were very well maintained with cattle, sheep, and horses dotting the landscape. We startled at least five small herds of deer along our route and crossed numerous small streams that were nearly overflowing their banks with high rushing water.
Hurricane Creek Road led us into Enterprise, and we tracked the main street for a few blocks, until we stumbled into a Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center. Jane and I locked our bikes to a stand and entered the visitor center, where a very helpful lady offered us a Wallowa County cycling map and suggested a return route that was different from our outbound path. We were quite pleased with this bit of good fortune.
The return route traversed equally pastoral surroundings, and we arrived back at the Joseph Public Park a bit over an hour and a half after we left. We did endure a brief light rain shower within three miles of our car. We reloaded the bikes on the rack, and since we were in town, we stopped at the market to pick up some necessary groceries. We also returned to the forest service office to query Sara on additional hiking options that would avoid crossing swollen tributaries such as Falls Creek.
After lunch at the campground we walked to the marina at Wallowa Lake. A trailer was set up as a stage with straw bales for seating in the parking lot near the marina. Saturday was a free state parks day, and various rock and folk bands were scheduled to perform Friday evening and Saturday afternoon at the trailer stage. We decided to circle past the shop at the marina, and then we strolled to the end of the boat ramp. A fisherman was tossing a spinner to the space between the boat ramp and the opposite bank of the lake, and when queried, he replied that he caught ten trout. He also mentioned that the lake was stocked with 10,000 trout the previous day. This information had a noticeable impact on me.
Jane and I proceeded along a long narrow cove between the boat launch and the far shoreline of the lake, and we both spotted some fairly active fish feeding on the surface. Stocked fish and surface feeders stoked my optimism, and we hustled back to the campground, where I prepared to fly fish in Wallowa Lake.
My fishing experience is covered in the next post, but when I quit at 5PM, I returned to the campsite. Jane and I killed 1.5 hours, and by 6:30PM we could no longer contain our anticipation of Amy’s arrival. We began to walk toward the park entrance, and just as we began to cross the bridge over the upper Wallowa River, Amy appeared in her little red Versa. One of us rode in the car with Amy, while the other hustled back to D09 campsite.
Happy hour followed, and we caught up on each other’s weeks. Dinner consisted of quinoa vegetable soup, and afterward I once again constructed a fine blazing fire. Unlike previous efforts, the flaming source of heat was not extinguished prematurely. We were happy campers, and we looked forward to more fun activities on Friday.