Long a haunt for the Nez Perce Indians, now the Wallowas are protected as the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area. This is such a grand region to wander about in, whether you are fishing, hiking, climbing, riding or simply taking the dog for a walk.
Long meadows in the summer, beckon you to stay longer. In late spring, backcountry skiers have their own version of paradise.
Favorite thing: The mountain tops are superb and the fishing great, but all over the landscape, wildflowers further enlighten the landscape. The flowers bring butterflies and bees of all sorts and color combinations. It is an amazing sight to have the opportunity to wander amongst.
Wallowa County is extremely lucky to be the home of a very successful nonprofit organization that promotes literary arts.
Fishtrap Inc. was founded about 15 years ago to host a summer writers workshop called Fishtrap Gathering at Wallowa Lake, which involved western writers and eastern publishers.
It was very successful and is still held around a theme every July; more about exploring ideas than the nuts and bolts of writing, though the panelists also give workshops during the week preceding the Gathering. Many of the Northwest's (and beyond) best and most well-known authors writers have taken part. Some up-and-coming writers who won fellowships have gone on to become published authors.
Fishtrap has grown and grown, and bought it's own house in Enterprise as a home base.
It now puts on a Winter Fishtrap and a Spring Lecture Series every year,sponsors a writer-in-resident in the schools who also gives a community workshop, hosts a writers retreat, has a storytelling group and story hour on the radio, and hosts numerous educational presentations and book readings/signings during the year. (And more)
Fishtrap adds immensely to the cultural richness of Wallowa County, which is very unusual for an isolated community our size.
For more info go to: www.fishtrap.org
Terminal Gravity was founded in about 1996 by a couple of guys (brother-in-laws) moving here from the Portland area with their families, and it has been a spectacular success story, putting us on the map in terms of great beer in a state where microbrews are cherished.
Just this year they expanded and the brewery's most popular brew -- India Pale Ale (IPA) -- is now offered in bottles.
The company ships to distributors in Eugene, Portland and La Grande, which are making IPA available to buyers outside the county. While the company has shipped kegs west for some time, the bottled beer is a new treat for fans.
There's also a popular Terminal Gravity pub in a great location on the edge of Enterprise adjacent to the brewery that serves great food. It also hosts musical groups, belly dancers and other performers at times.
Fondest memory: Terminal Gravity is located six miles west of Joseph in Enterprise: 803 School St., 541-426-0158.
Here's a few reviews of Terminal Gravity I found on a site called www.pubcrawler.com:
"Great beer. Small menu executed well with fresh ingredients. Best element is the friendliness of this small town. It's like having an excellent brewer in your tree house."
"The beer is some of the best in Oregon, which is the best in the country. While the menu is small, all the food is inventive, fresh and tasty. But what puts this place over the top is the atmosphere -- very friendly people, great details like hand blown glasses and a canine greeter, and an upstairs rumpus room with big screen TV. You must go there."
"A beer lovers' paradise among a stunning setting. The IPA is outstanding."
"My husband and I live in Eugene and have to travel far to actually visit the brewery. However, we are fortunate that so many places in Eugene carry the IPA!! My favorite!!"
There's lots of wildlife around Joseph. In fact I almost hit a couble of deer while driving up Main St. last week.
I enjoy watching birds from my windows, including a flock of curious quail, but I'm not a real birder. Every December a group of those who are really into it take part in Christmas bird count, under the auspices of the Audobon Society.
Hawks and bald eagles are especially common in Wallowa County, and there are big elk herds in some places. The Natural Conservancy owns a big piece of property called the Zumwalt Prairie here (lots of raptors and elk).
There are also mountain sheep and goats, mainly re-introduced in the last 25 years from other areas. However, you probably won't see them unless you are hiking in the wilderness or maybe Hells Canyon National Recreation area.
The Joseph area -- especially Wallowa Lake -- has the nickname "Little Switzerland of America" and even people from Europe say the mountains do remind them of Switzerland.
In 1992 Switzerland set about collecting rocks from places around the world with nicknames like "Little Switzerland". In a ceremony at Wallowa Lake in June, 1992, a Swiss diplomat accepted a moraine granite boulder on his country's behalf.
It was designed to be included in a monument in Bern to international friendship, called "The Balance of Things".
It consists of five groupings of boulders from 160 locations around the world.
Someday I would like to visit that monument. Has anyone seen it?
Since that time there is a sign near the entrance to Wallowa Lake State Park that points to Switzerland and gives the mileage from that country, 5,237 miles.
About five miles outside Joseph there is a little campground next to Hurricane Creek that I went tent camping with my kids, and sometimes with friends, numerous times over the years. It was close enough that if I had to go grab a photo for the paper during the weekend I was still close enough to do so, but it was still a great place to camp.
No water except the fast moving creek, a pit toilet, fire pit, picnic table -- the basics.
I think there may be a small fee now (it used to be free, but it's been several years since I've camped there.)
Fondest memory: Though I know the place lost its charm for the kids as they got older, I know they have many campground memories of Hurricane Creek. We also went there sometime just to get out and walk along the creek or hunt for mushrooms.
It will always be special to me, and who knows, someday they may bring their own children back to Joseph to camp on Hurricane Creek.
It's a beautiful place, easy to get to, and a couple more miles up the road there's a trailhead into the wilderness.