Day 1233 – Lake Louise Meets Seaside
For anybody unfamiliar Lake Louise is a spectacular alpine lake famous for its milky pale blue water. Lake Louise is in the Canadian Rockies north of Banff. It is the home to a spectacular “lodge” which would be better described as what Stephen King was thinking about when he envisioned the hotel for “The Shining.” And, for those unfamiliar, Seaside is a kitschy resort town on the Pacific coast of Oregon south of Astoria. It has been argued the true endpoint for the Corps of Discovery was the future location of the town of Seaside. Seaside follows the best traditions of the Jersey Shore and Coney Island complete with ski-ball (“skeeball” for your purists), bumper cars, myriad tshirt shops, and taffy galore.
Wallowa Lake is sort of a poor sibling to Lake Louise; a fully American resort complete with mini-golf and bumper boats and what was probably once a very nice, quiet lake.
It’s just not my scene; yet another place with a certain natural beauty that is all but paved over by people trying to make a living all the while knowing you can’t eat scenery. I normally photograph every campsite i occupy, but i couldn’t document this one. A narrow space with an oddly placed water spigot and a large metal box that emanated ongoing white noise. I’m guessing it was some kind of a pump, possibly water, possible sewage, but it ran almost non-stop for the 19 hours i occupied the site. Actually it was a blessing of sorts since it masked much of the endless chatter of the families flanking me.
The town of Joseph is nice enough but again it’s not my scene. Joseph is well known for several bronze foundries that produce large-scale sculpture and, as one gallery phrased it, “home fashions in bronze.” I did a cursory check of several stores, but i didn’t see anything that bespoke of uniqueness. Most of the wares reminded me of the “indian” stores in Flagstaff, AZ. But i wasn’t feeling up for shopping… i was too hot and feeling fluid-imbalanced, so i finished my town business (bought some one-pot food for dinner) and headed back the lake.
I discovered there are numerous trailheads starting a short distance up the only road, many of which are multi-day hikes high up into the sub-alpine peaks that form a perfect box canyon. And, perhaps best, there is a tram one can take to the summit of Mt. Howard. It’s not cheap ($22), but it’s a great ride and puts you up at an excellent vantage point with a minimum of sweating. Despite the elevation (remember the rule, every 1,000 feet the temperature drops as much as 10 degrees but 3-5 degrees is more common) it was still over 75 degrees at the summit. The sunlight was dazzling and the air felt cleaner than the melange of fried foods and outboard exhaust down in the campground.
Waiting for the tram back down i struck up a conversation with a grandfather and grandson. It turned out he was a native Idahoan who had worked for the Forest Service for many years and is now a consultant on active forest management using fire. He talked animatedly about researching the history of fire and how the most successful forests consist of trees showing long histories of multiple burns. “You look at the history of a given tree and you see evidence of 20 to 30 burns, then shortly after the west gets ‘rediscovered’ by Lewis & Clark, poof!, no more fire. Generations of bad management, that’s what that shows. Now you have hundreds of thousands of acres of timber afflicted by blights, rusts and bark beetles nature had, until then, kept mostly in check.” Wow. Studying the history of forest fires and applying that research to active forest management. Yet another in the growing list of jobs nobody ever told me about.