Winter hiking in SE Washington is limited to say the least.  We are fortunate to have a few low elevation opportunities that are typically snow free.  One such location is the Wenaha River which flows into the Grande Ronde River at the tiny town of Troy, Oregon.  This is a remote and wildlife rich area offering great solitude and canyon views.

Jason and I hiked up the Wenaha River on an exceptionally mild January day.  Our guest for the day was Michelle, a student employee of mine at Washington State University who has also become a dear friend.  If I had a daughter, I like to think that she would be just like Michelle.

I had two simple goals for the day:  see some wildlife and hike comfortably in short sleeves.

01-25-15 Wenaha River HIke (8)
early morning on the Wenaha

01-25-15 Wenaha River HIke (25)

happy hikers
happy hikers

Goal number one was achieved almost immediately.  Just a few feet into the hike, we stirred up a couple deer just off the trail.  At two miles in, I spotted two bighorn sheep far up on the hillside.

By about three miles into the hike, goal number two was achieved.  Temperatures were warm enough that I was able to strip to short sleeves.  The sun felt fantastic.  It was the perfect winter hiking day… and it was about to get even better.

Just shy of the five mile mark, I rounded a bend in the trail and spotted two bighorn rams straight ahead on the cliffs.

Two Well Camouflaged Bighorn Rams
Two Well Camouflaged Bighorn Rams

As I quickly began shooting photos of the two magnificent rams, Jason and Michelle spotted a group of three ewes sunning themselves a short ways up the river canyon.

bighorn ewes
bighorn ewes

01-25-15 Wenaha River HIke (62)Bighorn sheep are a real thrill to see in the wild.  Typically they are found high on cliff walls where they escape the clutches of their primary predator the mountain lion.  Perched high on their fortress walls, they exude confidence.  As I’ve seen many other times, these two rams came out from behind the rocks and stood there as if posing for the silly photographer down on the trail.

01-25-15 Wenaha River HIke (58)

Just as I was putting my tripod away, the larger of the two rams came down the cliffs toward us, perched himself atop an outcropping and stared straight down at us.  Even Michelle noted, “he looks like he is posing for you!”

01-25-15 Wenaha River HIke (69)We had a beautiful hike back in full afternoon sun.  It really was remarkable how beautiful the weather was for January.  The sun and blue skies sure were a cure for the wintertime blues.

01-25-15 Wenaha River HIke (51)

beautifully rugged Wenaha River canyon

01-25-15 Wenaha River HIke (70)
beautiful January day

Our wildlife viewing did not end upon our return to the trailhead.  On the drive along the Grande Ronde River between Troy, Oregon and the bottom of Rattlesnake Grade, we spotted a large flock of turkey, a bald eagle, and roughly 75 deer.  We ended the day by taking Michelle to Effie’s in Lewiston where the three of us split one of their burgers.  Life is good.

1-25-15 Michelle at Effies
Effie burger- a burger fit for three hungry hikers

12 Replies to “Wenaha River Hike, January 2015”

    1. Thanks Lisa! Hopefully the posts (and the website) will improve with experience! I probably should have polished it up a bit more before going live, but decided I might as well just jump in all the way!

  1. Lusha I am so excited to see you doing this. I will love all the opportunities to hear your stories and live your experiences through posts and pics. It will be like being there with you and Jason through all of your adventures with friends and family! I will watch yours and see how this works and maybe will do one with the ranch and my horse experiences. Looks like fun! Good luck and keep up the way cool work!!

    1. Thank you very much Laurie. It is a bit of a job getting started, but this will be a much better format for displaying photos than Flickr or Facebook- at least that is my hope! I think you should do this for all your horse photos. They have been looking really good and you could make little business cards to advertise your website and then hand them out at shows. I bet you could sell some of your shots! Maybe even devote part of the page to your jewelry. Thanks too for the invite for the landscape photo challenge. I keep thinking I need to get on and do that, but have been distracted trying to get this up and going.

  2. Hey dear Cousin. This is so wonderful!! You have some of the most beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing them with us. What a great way to “travel” with you and Jason, on your great adventures. 🙂 Looking forward to see more of them. Also getting to see you two more too.

    1. Thank you dear cousin. God certainly provides beautiful subjects all around us. My images pale in comparison to his. I’m glad you will be joining us on our travels!

  3. Oops I probably made the first spelling error on your post, and it’s in my own name. haha There, now you have no worries.

  4. Awesome! A good read and beautiful pics. You will be the first blogger I am following and can live vicariously through your hikes yay!

  5. YAY!!! You’re pictures are beautiful! Love, love, love the ram pics. Congrats on getting this up so fast! It marks the start of dominating your passion 🙂 Excited to follow you and can’t wait to watch you grow! 🙂

    1. Robyn, thank you so much for all of your encouragement and advice! You are a real inspiration! I’m working on the No Right Click plugin right now. Please don’t hesitate to criticize elements of the site that don’t work for you. I’m still debating the theme I selected. My understanding is that is easily changed in Word Press if I decide I need a change. Best to you and have a GREAT spring!!

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