The day started with our continuation of the Denio Canyon alternate, we worked our way up a steep drainage that was pretty brushy for the first mile, after that the brush eased and the canyon steepened a bit. About 2/3 of the way up I saw a skull in the grass for some reason it looked different and when I moved it it turned out to be a huge ram skull. We all paused and admired it, took some photos and the one if the horns came off the skull and the smell sent me dry heaving beyond belief. For the next 2 minutes I gagged, heaved and dealt with abdominal pains as my body had a vile reaction the smell of rotting animal.
After that we climbed and passed some historic junk on the way, aka old mining shacks. The mine was an Opal Mine, Oregon had small gold rush in the late 1800’s but it has always been semi precious rocs and gems that the state has been known for. Our Obsidian was a highly sought after and traded stone by the first nations and has been found all over the western states.
We walked the old mine road for a ways passing by some early homesteads and ranches form the settlers. We had to leave the road and gp cross country to connect to an other road, as we dropped down we found ourselves in a gulley with delicious fresh water. We all took break, drinking the cold clear water, taking a few minutes to rinse out our socks form the dirt and dust and eat a snack before we had to push on. The sky stayed cloudy but the temps felt OK.
We walked one last road and then the trail took us cross country. It was in this area that the ODT and the original Desert Trail overlap. For the Next seven to ten miles we saw that we would follow a series of cairns originally constructed for the desert trail. We climbed along a rocky area, and caught the glimpse of our first Carin form there were followed them up to saddle. At the top of the saddle we got our first glimpse of the Pueblos a wonderful mountain range that ends at the Alford Desert and the dry lake bed.
We followed the cairns for a few miles traversing the mountains and all of us lost in conversation, then I had that feeling of something here doesn’t feel right, I pulled dup the GPS and soon discovered we had missed a descent and were once again “misplaced”. We consulted our top maps and decided to make our way down to where the trail was supposed to meet an old dirt road. The next couple of miles were gnarly, dense brush, 60 degree slopes of loose scree and sage that wanted to cut us open with each step. We dropped into a a small drainage and there we discovered a mountain spring, the water was cold and clear and each of us drank freely from it. There is nothing like the tase of fresh cold mountain water free of chemicals and even more so after the water we have been drinking. With bellies full of water we headed down and found the road.
As we walked nth world to rejoin the cairns the sky darkened to a deep black cloud cover that sat low on the horizon. The wind picked up and started blowing hard, the temp dropped and we could see it raining off in the distance. As we came to ur junction to rejoin the bushwhack we weighed our options, go high and bushwhack with storm coming down on us, or plot a corse on dirt roads that barreled the route and be safe down low? We chose to be safe….one thing I make sure to remember is She-ra’s final words to me before I lift, “make good decisions”.
The road walk was pleasant, we wound our way along the mountains and enjoyed some Aspen groves and really cool rock formations. The road was decent too so we were able to make decent time. Eventually we came over a rise and off in the distance was a really big blue water trough. As we hiked along I was wondering if we could get water at that rough if needed. As we got closer I realized the water trough was actually Ron’s van. He was parked there waiting for us.
We stopped and chatted and Ron showed us the boxes he had picked up at Fields Station for us since we would arrive after they closed. He gave me a cold Coors Light and the girls each had a cold drink, but they opted for sodas and tea….Ron told us we were at least 7 miles away, which we knew but the day was quickly running out. The three of us decided to give our selves a break and slack pack the last 7 miles in to town. The girls each grabbed a water bottle and I took out most of my gear and still carried pack but in it was my first air kit, water and an extra layer in case I needed it.
The three of us waved bye to Ron as he headed to Fields Station to wait for us and the three of us set off feeling light as a feather. The girls started to jog a bit down the dirt road, I don’t run so I just walked at a good clip, I stopped top pee and when I turned around the two of them were getting a little ways away form me. For the next 4 miles the two of them continued jogging each 1/2 mile getting father and farther away. I relished the time alone, and enjoyed the changing daylight and dramatic sky as we made our way to the pavement.
Finally we hit the hard top and the last 3 miles of this 30+ mile day. We walked as fast as we could and as the sky turned from dusk to dark the three of us stumbled into Fields Station, Ron had the van doors open so the three of us crawled in to enjoy his couch. And to ur surprise he had a taco dinner bar set up for us. We ate until we were full and then the three of us rolled out the parking lot in front of his van. That wis where we camped for the night, Swept Away crawled into Ron’s reclining camp chair and Salty and I shared his heavy duty plastic tarp on the ground.
As were getting ready for bed and taking our nightly sponge baths, I started to crack up and said, “If only my parents could see me right now…here I am as filthy as pig pen, sleeping in a parking lot like homeless person, and feeling like the richest person in the world.”