Walking with Nora the Schnauzer to Hoffer Lakes, above Anthony LakeAugust 29, 2013
(More Photos at www.tripper.smugmug.com)
Despite the 7,200-foot elevation, I stepped from the cool air-conditioned pickup cab into a muggy late-August heat.
A stuffy breeze ruffled timid waves sprinkled with sun-dappled sparkle across the bronze-tinted water.
"An eagle," Darlene said, pointing at the windshield as I shouldered the Nikon with the big lens.
"Maybe it's an osprey," she added.
Nora the Schnauzer leaped from the back seat, sniffing before she hit the ground.
I sighted through the lens and rapidly collected half-a-dozen images of the big bird as it circled with a fish clutched in its claws.
"It's an osprey," I said. "But the one we saw earlier was definitely a bald eagle."
We saw it as we drove beneath the tall pines along the lake.
I checked the osprey images in the LCD and feared, alas, they would be too dark to salvage against the blown-out background of the high, hazy and cloudless sky.
I slung the heavy camera rig on my left shoulder, buckled a fanny pack with water around my waist, looped a second full-frame Nikon with a 24-85 lens over my right shoulder.
I carried the big-lens gear because elusive mountain sheep live in the area, and I could get lucky.
Darlene settled down with a mystery novel and the stuffy breeze easing through the cab's open windows.
A half-mile, moderately steep trail winds along a yard-wide stream up the mountain from Anthony Lake to Hoffer Lakes in a high valley hanging beneath massive stone peaks.
We skirted 200 yards of lake shore to the trail head and headed up hill.
Lora loved it.
She dashed ahead, crossed the stream many times, scampered across logs and boulders to pursue the scents of gray squirrels and other small critters.
I snapped photos of the stream, Nora and the softly shaded trail streaked by shafts of sunlight.
The uphill trail merges with a trail beside the two Hoffer Lakes. To the right, or north, the trail goes to the Anthony Lakes ski slopes, parking lot and ski resort.
To the left, south, the trail crosses a swampy area, skirts the smaller of the two lakes and butts into a massive rock wall.
We strolled briefly to the right and I took photos of the tree-spotted high stone-gray peaks and rocky ridges above their dark reflections on the still water.
Then we crossed the swamp area and climbed around on the rocky base of the mountain.
On the way back down the hill, two mountain bike riders and a dog passed us.
Back along the trail around the lake, squadrons of bees, butterflies and at least two monarchs, fluttered among the thick patches of wild flowers.
I snapped some photos with the 24-85 lens before hurrying back to the truck for the Nikon 105-mm macro lens.
I managed to collect several passable images of the bees and butterflies, including a couple of a monarch.
Darlene read (dozed?) on the shady driver's side of the truck since the late afternoon had become too warm in the sun.
Then with images of Gunsight Mountain above Anthony Lakes safely collected we drove back through North Powder and Union.
We stopped once near the Ladd Marsh wildlife area for photos at a field of sun flowers.
We continued to the Subway shop at Island City for six-inch subs (turkey breast on whole wheat with lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayo; BBQ chicken on Italian herb-cheese bread slathered with avocado and with lettuce, tomato, onion, respectively).
Darlene loves that bread and slime-green avocado.
We drove home over Tollgate mountain.
The sun set as I parked in front of the house.
I had no images of mountain goats, but it didn't matter. Despite the stuffy heat, it had been a perfect day.