Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Call of the Mountain - A Return to Wildhorse Lake / JULY 29, 30 2015

Mr. Larson and I felt the call of the Mountain and decided on a last minute fishing trip to the Donner und Blitzen River and Wildhorse Lake. I was very fortunate to be able to make two trips to Steens Mountain this summer. As October 3rd of this year marks the 15th anniversary of the designation of the Steens Mountain Wilderness, the extra visit seemed more than appropriate. Although I had just visited the area a few weeks before, I was surprised to see how much less water was in the Blitzen. Although the fishing was pretty much a no-go on the river, Wildhorse Lake did not disappoint. We both packed the float tubes down and had a heck of a good time wrangling in beautiful Lahontan cuttys in one of the most gorgeous places to fish that I know of. This trip marked my 3rd visit down to the lake, with the first being in 2011 and again in 2012. It had been too long, and I can't wait to return.

images captured using Canon G12 and Lumix DMC-TS5

a very low Donner und Blitzen River


After hiking upriver for a couple hours or so, and some half-hearted attempts at fishing, we decided the Blitzen was too low and much too warm for productive, not to mention ethical, angling. This large redband floating dead in the warm water drove this point home and we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring, lounging, sipping suds, and preparing for the next day's activities.
Willow Flycatcher
(Empidonax traillii)
Page Spring campground from above


looking down on Wildhorse Lake
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Lewis' monkeyflower
(Mimulus lewisii)

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Lahontan cutthroat trout
(Oncorhynchus clarkii henshawi)

munching on terrestrial patterns
I can't get over how beautiful these fish are.

(Castilleja spp.)
Cusick's aster
(Aster ascendens)
red-legged grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum)

unidentified hover-fly (family Syrphidae) on groundsel (Senecio spp.)

some sort of gall?

Scouler's St. John's-wort (Hypericum scouleri)... I think
Cascade Grass-of-Parnassus
(Parnassia cirrata var. intermedia)

pleated gentian (Gentiana affinis)... i think
star gentian
(Swertia perennis)

Mormon Cricket
(Anabrus simplex)
a red-legged grasshopper hiding in the blades
(Melanoplus femurrubrum)

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Mr. Larson lands a healthy one casting a terrestrial pattern from the shallows.

The domain of many Violet-green Swallows. I saw a nesting pair feeding a chick on nearby cliffs, but couldn't manage to get a decent shot.
James looks down the crack
Wildhorse Canyon
we begin our unplanned ascent to the summit
Steens Mountain thistle (Cirsium peckii) ringed by a carpet of rockfringe willowherb (Epilobium obcordatum)
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picking a crumbly route from the cirque to the summit... no trail

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another successful climb


  1. Great blogging as per usual, Jesse... Hoping you pulled that invasive mullein I saw in one of your pix.

  2. Thank for the kind words Jim. Yeah, I hate to see that stuff up there. I noticed more of it this time than I did a few year back.