Hells Canyon, created by the Snake River, runs along the border or Oregon and Idaho. There is also a small part of the canyon, before the Snake and Clearwater rivers meet that runs along the border of Washington and Idaho. I don’t have much experience around Hells Canyon, but the Washington/Idaho section has a constant flow and tiny communities at the bottom of this impressive gorge. One of these communities is Heller Bar, situated at the confluence of the Grand Ronde and Snake rivers. I had come here over a month ago to hike; since that visit I’ve wanted to come back and hike further back into the hills. The weather was very nice for mid-February, but in retrospect, more cloud cover would have been nice.
Hiking up atop the canyon is not an easy task. I had scoped out one or two “trails” on Google Earth and finally decided my route once I arrived. It was a very exhausting hike but I got o see some interesting mini-gulches along the way. From my parking spot to the overview, I hiked two miles and went up 1900 feet. I was glad to discover that when I got home because it sure felt that strenuous! Once I arrived at the overview, I was hoping for a nice open view of the river below. Unfortunately due to the canyon walls I could only see a small portion of the river, but still had a nice view of the canyon. If I was one or two ridges over I’d probably have the clearer view I hoped for but that would have been quite an additional hike. Here are two of the images I took from this vantage. The color photo is of Craig Mountain in Idaho. It’s more of a high ridge than mountain, but what’s most impressive is that it sits 4000 feet above the Snake River!
The area I was hiking in is close to a Wildlife Management Area in Washington. I wasn’t surprise to enjoy some wildlife sitings. I saw a herd of 18 elk while hiking and I even scared off a coyote who was very surprised to see me. The ultimate pay-off came once I was back on the road and saw nine bighorn sheep just a few yards away.
Despite being very hungry once I got back to my vehicle I kept on getting distracted by photo opportunities. Late afternoon light was being reflected in the Grand Ronde river which was now in shade. I spotted a nice section with multiple reflection pools so I stopped and shot until the sun no longer hit the cliffs. I also found an oddly placed lava rock along the shore. These are rather plentiful in the hills and I’ve noticed them on both of my hikes. I assume they get washed down often, but it’s texture and color provided a nice juxtaposition along the shore.