Go East!

Wallowa Lake beginning to freeze over in December.
Wallowa Lake beginning to freeze over in December.

The Wallowas offer wide-open spaces to play, explore and discover inner and outer peace

written by Cathy Carroll

We all know the old-timey call for adventure: “Go west, young man!” This winter, go with the obverse: “Go east, young_____!” Fill in your own gender. And by east, aim for Eastern Oregon, specifically, the Wallowas.

Take to the roads, whether they’re cleared or paved with packed, cold, dry snow (when tires get grippy). At Wallowa Lake, first notice what’s missing: traffic, noise, hurry, tension, human-made marring of the beauty of the natural world. A few things you’ll immediately gain: deeper breaths, a clearer mind and a visage with fewer worry lines.

Take in the deer and elk who’ve made the winter trek down into the valleys as hawks and raptors swirl above. Reconnect with belly laughter zipping down on a sled at Alder Slope or any other of the surrounding hills. Nordic ski at Wallowa Lake’s local parks or Iwetemlaykin. Snowshoe and hike up the West Fork or Hurricane Creek Trails (always checking the Wallowa Avalanche Center before backcountry jaunts).

Add gravity into the mix at Ferguson Ridge Ski Area or “Fergi,” the community-run ski slope with a t-bar, rope-tow—the hype is low and the prices are, too. The cozy lodge is friendly, and the lower slopes are kind to kids and beginners. Kick off the new year with a call to your wild side at the Eagle Cap Extreme Sled Dog Race in January, when mushers and their run-loving canine teams forge into the wilderness for this 200-mile, Iditarod qualifier.

Bring yourself back to civilization with a strong, ruby-colored winter ale at Terminal Gravity Brewing Company in Enterprise followed by a strolling amid the boutiques, galleries and eateries in Joseph.


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