OutdoorTracks

Exploring Oregon-Day 1

October 1, 2019

Forest Service Campgrounds (FS C.G.)

After Sept. 15th, the FS C.G. in the higher elevations start shutting down. The water is turned off and there's usually only one more garbage pickup. After that, you haul out your own garbage, and you better bring your own water. So they cut the campsite fees in half, and for some sites it's even free. On Monday, Sept. 16th, I headed east from Sandy, Oregon, over Mt. Hood on Rt. 26. After lunch in Prineville, I stopped at the Ochoco National Forest (NF) headquarters and got a map and a permit to collect up to 16 seedlings.

 Lookout Mt.Trail

Just past Ochoco campground (C.G.) I stopped for a hike up the Lookout Mt.Trail to stretch my legs. It’s a beautiful trail, gradually uphill to a peak after about 1.5 miles. I saw a buck standing and watching me on the way up. On the way back down, I saw him watching me again! He hadn’t moved very far. Then I saw a doe, and a little later 3 more does, and finally another buck trailing along behind them. With my telephoto lens I took several pictures, or so I thought – but was very disappointed later to find the SD card had been corrupted. I bought a new card the next day in Burns. So I apologize for the file photo; wanted it to be my own. I watched those deer for about 15 minutes, until they bedded down.

 

 

On the rest of the way down the trail, I used a trowel to dig a few of the smallest pine seedlings I could find. It’s hard to get all the roots in the rocky soil, but the smaller the seedling, the better the chance of getting the roots intact. Pines do well in full sun and they like well drained soil.

 

 Pronghorns!

Continuing on Rt. 42, I saw a herd of about 40 pronghorn antelope. They were moving from the road onto BLM grazing land. I had never been this close to antelope before, and was excited to get some good video. Little did I know that the SD card was no good. A big disappointment. So again, I need to resort to a file photo. Pronghorns like the wise open spaces of the high desert sagebrush areas in the West. They have very sharp eyesight and are hard to approach, so I was thrilled to see them up close.

 

Thunder and hail

It was getting late and the weather was threatening. I saw a little rough track of a side road and drove down it a ways and pulled off the gravel FS RD 42 and got the tent up. The ground was very rocky but there were enough pine needles to help in a few spots. This was a very makeshift campsite, and it was getting cold, so I just had some cheese and crackers, jerky, and an Adkins bar for supper. Then I explored down the road about a mile to its end, where there was a better camping spot, no doubt made by hunters – if I had only known…

Hearing thunder, and louder with each crack, I hurried back, but got caught in a hailstorm before taking refuge in the tent. Read for a while and then fell asleep. A good day, and thankful for a shelter and a sleeping bag.

 

Coming next - Exploring Oregon-Day Two

Stay tuned for the next installment.

Story covers about 1300 miles of back roads, hiking trails, high lakes, canoeing, maps, and things to see in Eastern Oregon from the Great Basin Desert to the Cascades and the Pacific Crest Trail.

 

 

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