The trip started off with a bang – or actually, numerous bangs – as we were pummeled by a raging thunderstorm. Fortunately, the group had already erected its tents at the Two Pan Trailhead up the Lostine Valley. We woke the following morning to rain, but the group remained cheerful as it packed up soggy gear and started off on the East Fork Lostine River Trail. Within a fairly short time, the rain ceased as we entered a spectacular long meadow with views of Eagle Cap at the far end. Upon arrival at Mirror Lake, we started our search for the ‘perfect’ camp spot, but then had to hurry our decision as black clouds loomed and rumbles of thunder echoed around the lake. Sure enough, another storm passed over, but left early enough that we could enjoy a beautiful evening by the lake.
The next day the six of us climbed Eagle Cap, one of the highest mountains in Oregon at 9572’. The day was perfect, with sun and a few clouds, and we were kept cool with a stiff breeze. Nobody else was on the mountain so we had the summit to ourselves. The 360 degree view was spectacular; we could look down at several lakes, including the vividly green Glacier Lake. After returning to our campsite for lunch, we headed out for a 5-mile loop in the Lake Basin area that took us past more gorgeous lakes, including Moccasin, Douglas and Crescent Lakes.
On our 3rd day, we climbed over the Ivan Carper Pass and headed down to Minam Lake. This was a relatively short hike, but included considerable elevation gain and loss. After finding a perfect campsite at the lake, including a fire ring (Minam is one lake that allows campfires), we hiked up to the gorgeous Blue Lake, a smaller lake nestled in a cirque formed by towering granite walls. A couple of our braver companions took the plunge into the chilly waters, but quickly dried off in the sunshine. That evening we enjoyed a campfire that was most welcome as temperatures dropped dramatically once the sun went down.
Three of the participants had already decided they were not going to go home on the designated day, but would stay on for another 2 nights to make the most of the perfect weather and other trails that needed to be explored. So in the morning, Laurie, Jeanine and Betty headed down the West Fork Lostine River Trail to the trailhead (Laurie taking over as ‘trip leader’), while Scott, Brad and Chris headed for the Copper Creek trail. While taking a break from the steady climb up, we met a couple of horsemen, one of whom told us about the old trapper’s cabin that was in the area; he had visited it when a kid with his father, but wasn’t quite sure how to get there. Brad spotted a red roof across the valley and the horseman confirmed that it was the cabin. After the three of us found another perfect campsite right by a crossing of Copper Creek, we set off to try to find the cabin. Somehow we stumbled across a rough trail which indeed took us up to the granite slab on which perched this allegedly 100-year old structure. That was a real bonus for us as we explored the cabin and the surrounding meadow where obviously hunters camp as there were several fire rings.
The next day we hiked up through beautiful Alpine valleys and up rocky trails to a ridge overlooking the badly named Swamp Lake. This is one of the most beautiful lakes we had seen. The trail down was steep but we all agreed we needed to visit the shoreline. After lunch and exploring the lake, we climbed back up and headed down to our camp, finding another lake on our way down. During the whole day, we met only 3 other backpackers.
It was hard leaving the next day as we woke to a cloudless sky, but commitments in Eugene gave us no option but to hike the 5 miles back to the car and head home.
Brad tracked our footsteps on his GPS and announced at the end of the extended trip that we had done about 50 miles – considerably more than the advertised 17 mile loop.
We are already planning a return trip to the Eagle Cap Wilderness in 2014.Members: Chris Stockdale, Betty Grant, Jeanine Taylor, Brad Bennett, Laurie Funkhouser, Scott Hovis.
A wet start—photo by Chris Stockdale
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