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Imnaha 2008





Joyce O'Halloran and Julie Waters (of Joyful Llama Ranch), and Debra Langley-Boyer accompanied us to the Imnaha River valley in the eastern Wallowa Wilderness -- all very experienced packers/campers. Debra was accompanied by Jessica, a 13-year-old new to llamas (switched from horses). The drive there (and home) was relaxed and uneventful. We met Raz Rasmussen of Wallowa Llamas and his party at the trail head (on their way out) and we camped there overnight. Grass was plentiful and several deer passed through camp. The mosquitoes were rather bothersome that day (though I've experienced much worse) but the weather was great. Raz reported the mosquitoes at the interior campsites were not bad -- he didn't even use a tent but slept under the stars. They were most always present but with a bit of bug band repellant I didn't receive any bites. We did encounter ticks though, which is more of a concern with llamas. In addition to the repeated application of bug repellant, half were treated with CyLence beforehand. The trail in was quite challenging, with numerous log jumps/step-overs, shallow creek crossings, and some bushwacking detours, but the llamas -- some very green -- took it all in stride and didn't cause any difficulty. We camped at Imnaha Falls the first night, about five miles from the trail head. The camp area was a lower grassy plateau near the river, below the trail. River rapids were nearby where the water carved itís way thorough a narrow rocky channel. Other grassy camp areas exist nearby in the upper elevations, with small streams passing through, but the lupine was more prevalent in these areas.

The next day we all trekked to Deadman Crossing and River Forks. Deadman Crossing has a broad shallow access to the river, covered mostly in grass, and a slightly elevated camp area with logs situated around a large fire ring. This is probably the nicest camp area for a group that isnít too large. Further on, the north and south Imnaha rivers join together. Crossing the bridge over the north fork leads to a large grassy meadow surrounded by trees, with plenty of space for large groups to camp. At 7 miles this area can be easily reached from the trail head in a single day once the trail is cleared.

The third day we relocated to Blue Hole so the hike out to the trail head the next morning would be shorter for an earlier start of the drive home. Blue Hole is an S-shaped rock canyon the river passes through, only two and a half miles from the trail head. One can stand high above on a rocky precipice overlooking the turbulent water. A couple of camp areas exist here at different elevations but river access is via a single point. The grassy areas were relatively free from lupine.


Overlooking the Imnaha River

A mounted trail maintenance crew passed through during our stay, so the trek out was free of dead fall -- no detours. The scenery was beautiful, many flowers were in bloom, and the river flow was high. Despite conditions elsewhere in the Wallowa wilderness, there was no trace of snow at all. A few thunderstorms passed by during the four days but we received only very light rain briefly a couple of times, once during the night. Daytime temperatures were warm, and night was cool but not cold. The weather was real good. We didnít once tear into the back-up freeze dried provisions Ė subsisting on only "real food" the whole time. Eating all we could to lighten the load, there was enough left over for several more days.

More stories have been added to the lore. Weíll let Debra tell of her water bug llama, Carmella, who enjoys nothing more than a good backcountry swim -- oh, and she enjoys sharing that pleasure too! What a character...

Photos and video clips of the 2008 WA/OR BCL Rendezvous and the Imnaha pack trip have been uploaded to DropShots at http://www.dropshots.com/RebusCom and are linked to the rendezvous information.


Scott & Gayle Noga

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Last modified: 15 May 2012