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North Cascades - Sandpoint -Joseph - Columbia River -Mt St Helens

North Cascades - Sandpoint -Joseph - Columbia River -Mt St Helens

Old Aug 9th, 2022, 07:55 PM
  #21  
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Day 9: Wallowa Lake / Mt Howard

Campground: Wallowa State Park

Today was an easy day walking through Joseph (see Clou sie’s above post for an excellent description) and using the wifi at the public library. Then off to Safeway in Enterprise to buy some excellent fish for the evening and then back to the lake where we spent the most delightful afternoon on the mountain.

Mt Howard: $40 return and yes, it is worth it 😊

At the village behind the lake, you will find the gondola next to a run down historic wooden hall where dances and gatherings were held. The white gondolas hold 4 people each and take you up 3,700 feet on a 15 minute ride, which is one of the most vertical lifts in North America. At the top we were greeted with live country/folk music at the restaurant. We listened to the singer for awhile and then did some easy but stunning trails that lead us to majestic views of fields, lakes and mountains. We rewarded ourselves with beer on tap from the restaurant and wallowed in the stellar views. Mt Howard met and even exceeded our expectations as we enjoyed a late afternoon without crowds and a fantastic atmosphere.

taken from Wikipedia:Twenty-five towers are used along the route to support the cables of tramway.[3] The Wallowa Lake Tramway rises 3,700 feet (1,100 m) vertically,[8] starting at the 4,200-foot (1,300 m) level of the lake.[9] At the top of the gondola ride, an elevation of 8,150 feet (2,480 m), is Oregon's highest restaurant, the Alpine Grill.[10] The Tramway runs May through October.[11] It formerly ran on the weekends in winter for skiingand snowshoeing.[12] The four-person gondolas take fifteen minutes to make a one-way trip.[8][12]

The tram is the steepest four-person gondola in North America, ending at the 8,256-foot (2,516 m) peak of Mount Howard.[13] The tram is operated on 115 acres (0.47 km2) of land leased from the Forest Service through a special national forest permit.[7] At the summit one can view wildlife,[1] and wildflowers in an alpine meadow. Parts of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho are visible from the summit. Two miles (3 km) of hiking trails are available.[4]
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Old Aug 17th, 2022, 03:50 AM
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Day 10: Joseph - Pendleton - the Columbia River - Horse Thief Lake State Park

Campground: Horse Thief Lake State Park (Columbia Hills State Park)
This is a small campground with 12 sites located on Horse Thief Lake, which is part of the Columbia, on the Washington side. It's green with trees, a large lawn and offers safe bathing. Because it was full, we were able to park in the large gravel overflow parking lot for $13. The campground was very windy but it calmed down after dusk and we could even enjoy our own private campfire right at the edge of the river. It was, needless to say, lovely and relaxing. The campground has flush toilets and showers.

Today was basically a long drive through wonderful small towns, wheat fields and driving along the Columbia. Our route took us throw Wallowa, Elgin, Pendleton and Hermiston (which is delightful if you can explore the areas outside the city towards the Columbia). We filled up the tank in Hermiston, or I should say an attendant filled up the tank as required by Oregon law, and we continued on our way.

We crossed the bridge at Hermiston and drove along the Columbia. It's rather an uneventful drive along the Columbia but you see signs for Chateau St. Michele, Columbia Crest and Maryhill wineries. Before the Dalles, we took our chances at the above campground located right before the Dalles and found a spot to spend the night.

The campground host told us about some old Native American rock drawings called petroglyphs we could see in just five minutes walking distance. The rocks were put there before the dam was completed otherwise they would have disappeared under the river. They certainly are worth seeing if you are in the area. Columbia Hills Historical State Park | Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.


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Old Aug 17th, 2022, 04:09 AM
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Day 11: Carson - Windy Ridge - Randle - Olympia

It was our last day and we wanted to do some back forest driving. Little did we know but today would be our hardest drive.

We decided to take the Wind River Road to lead us to the right of Mt. St. Helens and explore the wildnerness in that area. The road is closed during winter but otherwise it is paved so we thought, why not?

We drove up to Carson and continued into the protected forest where there would be no towns or gas stations until Randall. It was a lovely road with little traffic. As we were nearing the Mt. St. Helen's area, we missed the McClellan look out onto the volcano. We just caught a glimpse of it as we drove by and wished we would have stopped. But driving a pick up and travel trailer limits our spontaneous turn arounds, especially when there is none to be had. It was then that the road became poorly maintained and dips, cracks and washouts in our lane made driving dangerous.

DO NOT DRIVE ON THE NFD 25 WITH A TRAILER or LARGE RV. The road is dangerous and you can easily damage your vehicle. We went at a snail's pace helping each other locate the obstacles, which were often were behind shrubbery growing out into the road or almost invisible in the dark shade.

Despite the precarious roads, we decided to go up to Windy Ridge for a stunning view of Mt. St. Helens, Spirit Lake, Mt Adams, Mt. Baker and Mt. Hood. Again, the road to the lookout was treacherous for trailers and RVs but we drove slowly and were grateful for little traffic as we often drove in the opposite lane. I remembered Windy Ridge from 30 years ago, which once was the only lookout onto the volcano, and besides the poor road, not much has changed. The view is still worth it but only if you have a pick up or some appropriate vehicle.

By the time we reached Randle, we were worn out from scrutinizing the road for damage. We continued on to Centralia, avoid Chehalis because of the I-5 back up, and had a smooth drive back to Olympia.
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Old Aug 17th, 2022, 04:11 AM
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Summary: I loved our road trip and would do it again but next time I would avoid the Windy Ridge area simply due to the roads. My favourite areas were the North Cascades, the area between Republic and Sandpoint, Schweitzer Mountain, driving down the gorge to Rattlesnake Creek and Mt. Howard.
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Old Aug 18th, 2022, 07:02 AM
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Kleebat--I loved this trip report so much! You got to areas that many locals and most visitors do not put the effort in to see. Horse Thief is one of my favorite areas. Did you go check out Horse Thief Butte before heading into the park/campground? That area is well known for rock climbers. Lots of rattlesnakes, so you have to be careful, but a beautiful area. When I was first reading I was really hoping you didn't overlook the petroglyphs, so I am really glad you found those. Yes the back roads up to Windy Ridge are what our usual forest service roads are like. My SUV has scrapes all along one side from the brush from there. Glad you made it through ok.
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Old Aug 18th, 2022, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by mms
Kleebat--I loved this trip report so much! You got to areas that many locals and most visitors do not put the effort in to see. Horse Thief is one of my favorite areas. Did you go check out Horse Thief Butte before heading into the park/campground? That area is well known for rock climbers. Lots of rattlesnakes, so you have to be careful, but a beautiful area. When I was first reading I was really hoping you didn't overlook the petroglyphs, so I am really glad you found those. Yes the back roads up to Windy Ridge are what our usual forest service roads are like. My SUV has scrapes all along one side from the brush from there. Glad you made it through ok.
Thank you for your kind words. We didn't explore Horse Thief Butte unfortunately but the park is quite lovely (although windy at times) and the petroglyphs are very interesting. We also enjoyed watching the train pass by on the tracks that separate the lake from the river. Our trailer had a hitch problem before we left but the park host and the rangers were extremely helpful and lent us tools so we could continue on our trip. I believe the native Americans once camped where Horse Thief lake now lies and many people were probably sad to see the some of the consequences of the dam; which included flooding many historical areas. We truly loved our stay at the campground simply because of all the surprising and positive things that happened to us there.

Those forest service roads should have warnings about poor road conditions. I was extremely disappointed to see the condition of the road up to Windy Ridge. It's an accident waiting to happen. Despite the roads, however, I still love going up there simply because of all the memories I had during those first few years after the eruption. Seeing the devastation the first time from Windy Ridge decades ago is a sight I will never forget.



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Old Aug 18th, 2022, 12:07 PM
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Before I forget, I can't stress how UHaul saved our trip and how satisfied we were with the pickup. For those who are coming to the States and would like to rent a trailer and a pickup, I highly recommend checking out UHaul's pickups. In addition, they have vans where one could spend the night if you really want to travel cheaply. You won't find better prices anywhere else.

Last edited by kleeblatt; Aug 18th, 2022 at 12:10 PM.
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Old Aug 20th, 2022, 05:29 AM
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kleebatt--I never thought about the forest service roads posting warnings, probably because I have grown up using those and just know. Anytime we are on a FS road, we just assume it is going to be in really bad condition. I have heard some good thing about using UHaul for vacations, especially since rental cars are so crazy expensive and supply is so limited. Good thinking to use that!
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Old Aug 25th, 2022, 04:50 PM
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That sounds like my kind of trip. I've often considered doing much the same in a converted AWD van. I think it would be incredible to do that for a year. Thanks for sharing. It was a nice escape from my city life.
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Old Aug 29th, 2022, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by MrERyter
That sounds like my kind of trip. I've often considered doing much the same in a converted AWD van. I think it would be incredible to do that for a year. Thanks for sharing. It was a nice escape from my city life.
Thanks for the kind words. I can highly recommend touring the US off the beaten track. There are so many areas that deserve more attention than they get.
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Old Aug 30th, 2022, 05:12 AM
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The panhandle of Idaho is a wonderland. I remember being surprised at the robust sailing communities of Couer d'Alene and Sandpoint. The lakes there have lots of secluded coves and twists to them that provide spectacular scenery.
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