OUTDOORS - Unleased at Anthony Lake

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Granite boulders and cliffs mark the high portions of the trial.

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Nora looks down on Dutch Flat Lake.

I donned the daypack, attached two cameras to a Cotton Carrier harness, gripped the bamboo walking stick and tramped along the Anthony Lake shore behind Nora the Schnauzer.

She carried her pack with water and snacks.

A soft mid-day breeze that cooled my ruddy cheeks stirred riffles across the dark water.

Nora, illegally unbound by a leash, bounded ahead, turned the heads of four anglers who lifted lines and rods as she passed and paused briefly to pant at three dogs held back by a man gripping three leashes.

I apologized.

"She's in a hurry," I added.

Probably nine minutes later, we padded our feet on the well-trod early section of the loop trail around Gunsight Mountain.

As we synchronized our paces, a squad of young men and women, possibly forestry students on a field trip, marched past in single file.

Nora stood at the edge of the trail, wagging her stub of a tail and anticipating friendly words or ear rubs.

The squad passed, and Nora gazed wistfully after them.

"Not one offered even for a head pat," she sighed.

"Never mind," I muttered and rubbed her chin.

The trail soon angled upward, and Nora pranced on ahead.

She clearly enjoys trotting and sniffing in the woods.

When she sniffed around near a freshet, I paused to take a photo. A man and woman with an Australian shepherd approached from behind us.

Nora and Kaixo exchanged nosey introductions, and I talked briefly with John and Marlene Griffin, from Boise, about photography.

They passed on, planning to complete the scenic 8.2-mile loop, and we followed at our snail's pace.

A mile from Angell Pass, we stopped for snacks and water. Half-a-mile later, we met Kaixo and the Griffins again.

Wearing low-top shoes, they had turned back from the snow field below the pass.

I wore boots and gaiters, so we continued with frequent pauses to sniff the snow (Nora) and to suck in the stunning scenery that stretched across the valley to the Eagle Cap Mountains (me).

From the ridge above Dutch Flat, we began a four mile trek downhill. The trail offered scenic views, somewhat less-than-stunning, and we eventually confused the final section of it back to Anthony Lake.

We reached the top of a ski slope and stumbled (me) down it. We reached the lake at 6:39 p.m., tired and satisfied.

"Well, Nora," I said. "We had a great hike."

"Yep," she said.

After a few photos of the mountain, reflected in the lake, we boarded the wagon home.

If You Go

Google "Anthony Lakes Hikes" or check web.oregon.com/hiking/anthony_lake.cfm on the internet for a complete description of the Anthony Lake hikes: Drive Interstate 84 south of La Grande 24 miles to North Powder exit 285 and follow "Anthony Lakes" signs 21 paved miles west on what becomes Road 73.

For a day hike turn left at an Anthony Lake Campground sign. After 100 yards fork to the right toward a picnic area, and in another 100 yards park on the left at a lakeshore picnic gazebo. No parking fee is required, but dogs are allowed only on a leash. For the 8.2-mile trip around Gunsight Mountain, start from the picnic gazebo and walk .3 miles to the boat ramp, veer left toward Black Lake for .5 miles and then keep straight on the Elkhorn Crest Trail.

This well-graded path climbs 950 feet in 2.1 miles to a breathtaking view at Angell Pass. Continue downhill 0.6 mile to a junction in Dutch Flat Saddle, a good lunch stop. Briefly detour 100 feet left for a view of Dutch Flat Lake, a mile below.

Return to the saddle and take the Crawfish Basin Trail downhill. This path skirts above Crawfish Meadow before ending at a dirt road. Go straight along this road 0.4 mile to a pass with a 4-way junction. Look to the right at this pass to find an unmarked trail angling downhill. Take this path to cut off the service road's first switchback. At the road's second switchback, turn right on the Hoffer Lakes Trail for the prettiest route back to your car.

The 8.2-mile loop around Gunsight Mountain gains 1,330 feet of elevation from Anthony Lake at 7,140 feet. Note: For information about the camera harness, visit www.cottoncarrier.com .

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