Here in the Wallowas, for me, the place is Deadman Lake. A small scrap of blue perched just below the Hurwal Divide, it remains elusive. A few people I know have glimpsed it from the ridge above. A couple of people have actually been there. I have my sights on this lake; for two years I have stared at the map, the daunting contour lines, the fin of rock where it lurks, but have never made it there.
The first serious attempt occurred yesterday. In retrospect, we made all the classic mistakes. Leaving the trailhead at 8:30, way too late. Hiking on a 90 degree day. Not knowing the route beyond "you go up near Slickrock Creek." Still, we pressed gamely on, finding ourselves on a loose, shifting mountain. The phrase "I'm scared" was uttered more than once. Clearly this was not working.
|This is Slickrock Creek. The brown looking stuff is left over snow from an avalanche.|
We decided to angle over to an area of retreat, but then noticed that the climbing got easier. "Let's just go up a little ways," I said. We started up a much saner route, finding a line of footprints of some lone soul perhaps bent on the same destination. It was then that a small storm decided to blow through like a child's temper tantrum. We retreated to a small grove of trees to think things over.
|Here's a couple of dorks waiting out the storm.|
|The lake is up there somewhere.|
|Here's a big show-off crossing the creek on the top log. (I walked on the bottom one).|