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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Echo Basin

After a fantastic wildflower hike up Cone Peak and Iron Mountain, I was more than happy to call it a day.  But, my hiking companions Greg and Gene wanted to visit nearby Echo Basin.  Having both been there before, they gave glowing descriptions of the beauty and abundance of wildflowers.  How could I say no?  (Not that I would anyway.....Greg was driving)


Shooting Star

We traveled a short distance down Hwy 20, then turned onto a gravel road for a couple of miles.  The "trailhead" was merely a wide spot in the road, so Greg wedged his VW bug behind another car.  Then my hiking buddies and I once again shouldered our packs and took off up the trail.


Echo Basin's boardwalk

The path climbed steeply along a long-abandoned road bed, that appeared to have been used for logging activities.  A thick steel cable protruded out of the ground and followed the roadway for a short distance.  I later read in my Sullivan hiking book that the original forest had been logged in the 1980s, and since then alder, Douglas fir, huckleberries, and wildflowers had taken over.  Also, Greg pointed out this area housed a grove of large shaggy-barked Alaska yellow cedar, which is the farthest south these particular species have established.


Bluebells, I think

After 3/4 of a mile, we crossed a creek and began bushwhacking through an extremely overgrown trail.  Crashing through the brushy undergrowth was not a lot of fun.  It was late afternoon, the air was hot and muggy, and by now I'd quite had my fill of climbing.  I kept hoping we'd emerge into the clearing, but the infernal trail just kept on winding through more jungle-like vegetation.  There were tons of bluebell and bleeding heart flowers decorating the woods, but I was so focused on getting to Echo Basin, I didn't bother stopping for photographs. 


LOTS of shooting stars!

Finally, I caught up with Gene and he mentioned we were just about there.  Sure enough, a few more steps and I could see the forest opening up to a huge amphitheater-like clearing.  Tall cliffs rose from three sides, and at the base was a wide, green valley.  A decrepit wooden walkway led hikers through this boggy meadow.


Still some paintbrush around

The meadow was full of tiny, magenta shooting star flowers.  Although a bit past peak, Gene mentioned he'd never seen such a large concentration.  Also making an appearance were a few orange paintbrush blooms, and a bunch of unusual flowers called elephantshead.


Elephantshead

These flowers were tall tubular-like plants, with many tiny pink flowers growing off its main stem.  If one looked closely you could see each little blossom looked like an elephant's head.  I wish I would've taken a few close-up photos of these flowers, but that meant stepping off the boardwalk into the mucky meadow.  (Maybe next time!)


Verdant green meadow

As expected, Greg spent a lot of time in the meadow cataloging all the plants and flowers present.  Gene mentioned that normally there's a lot more flowers in bloom, and we must've timed our visit too late.  No matter, I enjoyed the scenic green meadow and the unusual flowers that we found.


More lovelies

After Greg was finished exploring, he followed Gene and I down the return trail (the path through this meadow was a small loop that connected back to the old road).  Boy was this trail rough!  Lots of blow-down trees to scramble around and more thick vegetation obscured much of the tread.  It appeared a trail crew hadn't performed clearing activities for several years.  Both Gene and Greg voiced concerns that this lovely place might soon become difficult to reach.


Another elephantshead photo

If that becomes the case, then I'm doubly glad my companions insisted on visiting this special place.  It was a gorgeous, serene piece of heaven tucked away in the Central Oregon Cascades.


Stats:  2.4 mile loop, 600 feet elevation gain

23 comments:

  1. Magnificas estas fotografias, gosto bastante de ver estas belas flores silvestres.
    Um abraço e continuação de uma boa semana.
    Andarilhar

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  2. A hard climb but soooo worth it!

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  3. Definitely good you got to go then! The wildflowers are amazing and am glad you were rewarded for your hike!

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  4. Linda, once again you share some amazing sights, thanks!

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  5. Great wildflower photos but I'm intrigued by the wooden paths you have

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  6. Beautiful flowers, Linda, and I love the green meadow!

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  7. I love the elephant's head - they're blooming here right now, as are the chiming bells. I have never seen a shooting star in the wild - I'd be over the Moon to find one, let alone a whole patch of them.

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  8. I'm always a little torn about seeing places go back to the wilderness. On one hand, it does help keep them wild and preserves a sense of discovery. On the other, if people treat the areas with respect, it's good for them to be able to get there.

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  9. It looks like a beautiful hike. I love boardwalks!

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  10. Your photos are awesome with all the different colors. It would be quite enough beauty for me!

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  11. Your wildflowers are wonderful! Thanks for sharing them with me. :-)

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  12. Gorgeous wildflower captures. Looks like a great place to hike, albeit a wee bit overgrown.
    I love the boardwalks so many places now have.
    Great post, Linda!

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  13. Never been here but may have to visit now that I read your blog! FYI - Your "Bluebells, I think" are indeed bluebells

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  14. Another interesting area and stamina rewarded.

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  15. Certainly was a beautiful place Linda! Love the wildflowers!!
    hugs,
    Jann

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  16. These phots made my night....I miss them.....love the shooting stars.

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  17. Your friend was right about the wildflowers - pretty

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  18. Hello Linda, looks like another pretty spot for a walk. The wildflowers are still beautiful. Lovely series of photos. Enjoy your day and the week ahead!

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  19. You have been on some wonderful hikes! Your photos are lovely! :)

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  20. It definitely seems worth the rough hike for such a wonderful reward of wildflowers!

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  21. Thanks for another post full of gorgeous images. Phew now I'm all caught up!!

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  22. I never tire of seeing and photographing wildflowers! They are such delicate treasures and you found so many wonderful ones.

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