Friday, June 15, 2007

Out of Joseph and Up into the Clouds.

As we drove out of the lovely town of Joseph toward Wallowa Lake, we stopped to see the Monument of Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph the Elder . Originally buried in the nearby town of Wallowa, his remains were moved to this spot in 1926.

Old Chief Joseph is not as well known as his son and namesake, whose image is well known to many Americans, especially in the Northwest.

Born Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt (“Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain”) in 1840, Joseph the Younger led the Wallowa band of the Nez Perce “during General Oliver O. Howard's attempt to forcibly remove his band and the other "non-treaty" Indians to a reservation in Idaho. For his principled resistance to the removal, he became renowned as a humanitarian and peacemaker.” (More from this Wikipedia article)

This is Joseph Canyon, one of the winter homes of the Nez Perce. It’s believed Chief Joseph was born in a cave here.

We drove by the pristine morainal lake as we headed for the Wallowa Lake Tramway, which would take us on a very steep 4000-foot climb to the top of Mount Howard.

The ride costs $20 for adults, and takes 15 minutes to get up to the 8150-foot summit.

I have a few phobias, and of course, one of them is for heights. I clung tightly to the support pole in the middle of the gondola and did my best to keep my eight-year old from dashing from side to side. I had limited success as his enthusiasm and exuberance fueled his movements. The the little vestibule rocked, and sent me into palpitations. At that moment, I decided to NEVER get on a ski lift.

My teenage son, who adores skiing, rode with my daughter and her friend in a separate gondola. Far more composed than me, he took this picture of the lake through the slightly scratched windshield. (Still a pretty good shot, though!)