|Downtown Sumpter, OR.|
Sumpter is tiny, about 200 people live here, and many of the buildings on Main St. wear For Sale signs. It's on the Elkhorn Scenic Byway and nestled against the Elkhorn Mountain Range. There's plenty of mining history to explore here and outdoor recreation in many forms: primarily ATV and snowmobiling, but hiking, biking, boating, fishing and birding are also easily accessible. There's a hotel in town, a couple of restaurants and a bar, where we enjoyed live music by The Channel Cats on Saturday night.
We spent four nights at Sumpter Pines RV Park, a great little full hookup park in the pine trees, with excellent 4G Verizon signal. ATVing is big here in the summer, and we were happy that there were not a lot of them around stirring up dust during our stay. We even attended the owners birthday celebration, good folks run this place.
Just down the street from the RV park is the Sumpter Valley Dredge State Historic Site. This enormous dredge used the Powder River to turn over massive amounts of rock and soil in search of gold from 1935 - 1954. It was the third dredge to work the area since the turn of the century, so a huge swath of the Powder River basin was damaged in the hunt for gold. Fortunately nature is making a comeback, deer are abundant, beaver are working the creeks, and fishing is good.
|The dredge dug its own pond as it performed its job of scooping up the riverbed, |
sorting out the possible gold, and eliminating the excess rock out the back.
|Each of the 72 scoopers weigh 1 ton!|
|Large rocks were conveyed up this boom and deposited back into the river basin.|
|Row upon row of stone piles now make up the Powder River basin.|
The friendly ranger and host at the Dredge Visitor Center tipped us off to the Twin Lakes Trail. At 7.5 miles RT and with over 2,000 feet of elevation gain this was a pretty strenuous hike, but so worth it! Gorgeous forest, tumbling creeks, expansive vistas, snowy peaks, luscious green meadows criss-crossed with myriad snow melt streams, patches of snow, a lovely cirque lake and the potential to see mountain goats.
We searched valiantly for mountain goats, saw lots of goat droppings, but the only goat we saw was a skeleton. The lower lake sits at about 7,500 feet and was fully engulfed in snow and mostly covered in ice, quite a beautiful sight indeed!
|Lake Creek was flowing strong.|
|This beautiful meadow laced with streams sat below the lake basin, |
which is just over the hill and shrouded in clouds.
Behind the clouds were jagged, snow capped mountain peaks.
|Signs of spring were emerging all over the meadow.|
|Behind us the views opened up to the Sumpter Valley.|
|Ahead of us the approach to the lake basin became a little treacherous.|
Once we realized exactly where the lake had to be we avoided the snow
and walked across the soggy meadow because the snow was quite slippery!
|The lake basin was a vision in white.|
|The only mountain goat we saw on this hike...|
Perhaps a bear or a mountain lion dragged it into the trees?
For our last adventure we drove up to the almost ghost town of Granite, OR, then a few miles further to the Granite Creek trail head. This 7.2 mile RT trail goes into the magnificent North Fork John Day Wilderness, always in sight or earshot of Granite Creek. Except, we didn't make it the whole way, after an incredible wildlife sighting we decided to turn around when we came to some very heavy brush...didn't want to run in to another bear! We were plenty happy with about 4.5 miles and a bear family sighting!!!
|Gorgeous trail along Granite Creek.|
|I stopped to take a picture of some flowers on the hillside above us and this family strolled into the picture!|
Mama was quite large and the two cubs quite small...and only about 75 feet above us!
Talk about an adrenaline rush...
We're heading North tomorrow. One last thing...Thanks Amanda for your How To Grill Pizza Blog Post! You inspired me to try something new and it was delicious!