Joel being a vet and Oregon resident can stay at Oregon state parks for 10 days in a thirty day period for free. The catch is that he can only stay for five sequential days and then has to leave for a day. When the reservations were made there were no sites available for five days so we have to move after three days to another site to make the five days. The ranger had told us a new fire had just started several drainage away and thus, the smoke. The fires are really bad this year all over. I am so thankful that my two sons are no longer working for the Forest Service as Fire Fighters.
The Lake has a resort atmosphere with lots of attractions. One attraction is the Tram which scales Howard Mountain. Hopefully the smoke will clear some so we can take it up the mountain and explore some of the trails on top.
The next day we set up the Zodiac and headed out in the water. The lake is like glass but visibility was poor. Lots of smoke. The lake looking north:
One side of the lake has private residences with private docks. The park side has floating docks which are great. There are no beaches on the state side of the park, so the floating docks are a welcome and we took advantage of them. they are a great place to have a picnic and just relax.
The lake front homes reminded me of those found on Donner Lake, in Truckee where I used to live.
I did get the Kayak out and paddled on the lake, but Tara kept jumping out of the Zodiac trying to follow me. She would reach the Kayak and try to climb on the Kayak but I was afraid she would tip me over. At one point she was successfully on getting up on the kayak and it tipped and she fell off. Well, I guess I'll have to work on her balancing skills. LOL.
On Wednesday, the day we were suppose to move, we checked in with the ranger and because there had been so many cancellations due to the smoke, it turned out we could stay in the same site and not move. Yeah!. Since we didn't have to move, decided to explore the area and look for some dry camping close by when our 5 days was up. We took a drive down Lostine River Canyon where there are several Forest Service Campgrounds but decided they would be too far. The Lostine River is a wild and scenic river and well worth the drive. We Also checked out the Lion's Park in Wallowa which is free but 20 miles away...too far.
Lostine River Canyon:
Thursday we headed over towards Hells Canyon Overlook. It was very smokey at the lake but the sun poked through along part of the drive to Hells Canyon Overlook. The Overlook was smokey and hazy, but it was better than expected.
On the way back we explored Forest Service Road 3950 where there were several Forest Service Campgrounds and long the Imnaha River which is another wild and scenic river. The campgrounds were really nice but not suitable for big rigs. Most were empty, probably due to smokey conditions. I would love to come back and explore more someday.
Friday I decided I wanted to hike part of the Chief Joseph trail which leaves from the park and climbs to the summit of Chief Joseph Mountain. I had attended a ranger talk on the hike and had a sketch of the trail. The trail is extremely steep the first 3/4 of miles and then there are several switch back to high meadows and then more steep climbing to the summit. Well, with the altitude, steepness, and me being out of shape, I didn't make to the High Meadow or the summit, but the vistas were worth the distance I did hike, even though it was overcast. The smoke had dissipated somewhat.
The trail is pretty rugged
When I got off the trail, Joel had the beaver ready to move. Internet and cell coverage is awful at the park and Joel is having TV and Internet withdrawals so decided to dry camp near Joseph where there good internet and clear satellite view as well as several free hotspots. LOL. Joseph is known for it's foundries and brass sculptures and there is much to see and do in Joseph for a few days.