Fish Lake Campground
The weather was not conducive to getting a picture, or even a view of Steens Mt. So I apologize for having to give you a link to a photo taken by Michael Skourtes. It is a great view of the sagebrush foreground and the massiveness of snowy Steens Mt. in the background.
Cold, wet morning
It had rained all night. It stopped at 7AM so I got up quickly, shook the water off the tent, and packed it up wet. That’s not the ideal, but it’s better than packing while it’s still raining. Not feeling like cooking, I started to drive the rest of the way up the Steens Mt. loop.
Time for prayer and bible study
Then I realized that in my haste I had forgotten my usual routine, so I pulled over and prayed for a while and then continued my reading. I was up to Revelation 5:13: “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and on the sea, and all things in them saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.””
That sure puts things in perspective!
Leaving Fish Lake C.G. at about 7000’ elevation, by the time I reached about 8000’, it was snowing hard and sticking to the road. The highest point on the road is listed as 9400’. I really wanted to see the viewpoint. I’ve been told that it’s an awesome vertical dropoff all the way down to the Alvord desert below.
My Toyota 4Runner has 4 wheel drive and big mud and snow tires, but alas – my trailer had summer tires. When the snow started getting deep, I got worried about what would happen on the way back downhill – with the trailer fishtailing behind me. I chickened out and turned around. Not seeing the top of Steens Mt. was one of the disappointments of the trip, but a good reason to go back some day.
Back at Fish Lake
I put the kayak in and fished for a while. No bites, but a good workout paddling. I was using a trout spinning lure, but back on shore I met a local bowhunter/fisherman in a camo outfit, and he said there were lots of big trout in the lake. He used artificial bait that looked like little multiple colored marshmallows, with some weight about 3’ back from the hook so the bait would float up.
On the road again
I drove back down to Frenchglen and headed south on Rt. 205. The road starts out steeply, and after a mile or so it tops out and there’s a spot where you can pull over. I’ve always been interested in trees, but this was the first time I’d ever seen a shoe tree! I wonder how many people had to walk home barefoot after making their contribution.
Coffee and gas
This is truly a desert road. Not sure when I would have another opportunity to get gas, I stopped in Fields, Oregon. It’s on the map like a town, but all I saw was a little country store with a café and gas pumps. $3.95/gal was pretty high, but I was in no position to be picky. The next stop was Denio, Nevada. It’s about 65 miles from Frenchglen to Denio. There is a desert hiking trail between Fields and Denio that a friend has backpacked on, taking several days.
Just a few miles south of Denio, Nevada, I turned right and headed West on Rt. 140, through Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge. This is where I saw the burro crossing signs. The refuge was set up in 1931 for the pronghorn antelope. The American Pronghorn Antelope is the second fastest land animal in the world [second to the cheetah] and the fastest land animal in North America, reaching up to 60 miles-per-hour at full speed.
photo by Sydney Martinez
After almost 40 miles, the road crosses back into Oregon.
Another 25 or 30 miles brings you to Adel, Oregon. By this time I was numb from driving so many miles across the wide open spaces of the desert, and I don’t remember anything about Adel. The Hart Mt. National Wildlife Refuge is accessible by road going north of Adel, but I passed, not being sure of the snow and road conditions.
For info see https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Hart_Mountain/
Mud Creek C.G.
About 13 miles short of Lakeview and 104 miles west of Denio, I drove north on a Fremont NF road (FS 3615) about 8 miles to Mud Creek C.G. The name didn’t exactly excite me, but I was tired of driving. There were some giant Ponderosa pines there, and not surprisingly, no other campers. There was no fee. I took advantage of the situation and picked the nicest campsite. It was raining. I got the tent up between showers, and when the rain stopped, I cooked an early supper of bacon and eggs. I found and dug about 6 white fir tree seedlings that were small enough so I could get all the roots. These are true firs and can grow to be giants.
The rain started again in earnest, so I got in the tent and read until falling asleep.
Tomorrow, I would check out a trailhead that I saw on the way up this road, and go for a good hike, rain or shine.
Coming next – Day 4 – starting with a morning hike on the Walker Trail in the Fremont NF.