July 2023 - Weekend in the Wallowas

Three friends and I just got back from a lovely weekend backpacking up to Ice Lake in the Wallowas. It was my second time hiking up to Ice Lake, the previous trip being in August 2015. Can’t believe it’s been 8 years.

On Friday, July 21, we left Portland around 8:30 am, arriving in Joseph at 2:30. We checked into the Kokanee Inn, which was a cozy, charming little place with a super friendly staff, a few common areas with books to borrow, and cold beer in the fridge. Our room was Denali-themed. We met a family visiting from Brussels.

We headed to Wallowa State Park at 4 for a show by Hunter Noack. He takes a grand piano out to remote locations and plays classical music. It’s a totally magical experience that’s such a contrast from experiencing that music in an auditorium. I really enjoy being able to walk around, explore the area, and be moved by the music in a way that’s not possible in a traditional concert setting. I highly recommend checking out one of his shows. Here’s the website with event info: https://www.inalandscape.org/.

After the show, we grabbed dinner in downtown Joseph and then settled in for an early night.

We woke up to some smoke, so we did some Googling to see if it was safe to hike and decided to go for it.

It was a hot 9-ish miles up to Ice Lake. We took several breaks along the way for our intrepid adventure husky, Loona, to cool off.

We got to Ice Lake around 4:30 and set up camp. We all took a quick dip in the lake (it lived up to its name!) and then got dinner going.

The bugs were horrendous. We all donned our long sleeves and pants but still got eaten alive anyway. I’m literally still itching bug bites as I type this two weeks later. I’d recommend bringing a bug net and some heavy deet if you go in July.

We played several rounds of The Mind, a fun, quick card game that Glenna and Robert had brought, and then called it a night.

The next morning, we woke up to a beautiful, smoke-free sunrise over the lake. We had a quick breakfast and then hiked back down.

We stopped for lunch at Terminal Gravity Brewing in Enterprise, a favorite spot in the area, and then headed back to Portland, catching a spectacular sunset over Mt. Hood on the way.

It was a great weekend, and I’m looking forward to going back to the Wallowas again soon.