Before first light we woke from our slumbers cold and stiff from the previous days slog into the night. The air was crisp and felt like fall, with all of our clothes on we walk out of the campground and then headedcross-countryy to find the “road” we were supposed to travel on. We quickly realized that the road had been lost to nature so we made our way cross country up and down some gently terrain. We came to a small stream and since it was so cold we scouted for a way to cross without getting our feet wet, I was close to achieving this and then a small rock slipped and in my foot went into the icy water, dang another day of walking with a cold wet foot.
We eventually found the road, and old two track that was more like a lost road for wagons than one suitable for even a jeep. We picked our way over the lava rocks covered with grass and even though we could navigate OK the going was slow. We entered into an area where the road split and headed on what seemed to be the correct path, a bit a mile later we realized we were in a n old dry stream bed not a road. With a quick look at the map, we realized we needed to cross the hill between us and the road we needed o once again we pushed our way cross country to be found once again on our maps.
As we walked along in the morning sun we enjoyed the scenery of rolling hills and ponderosa pine trees. We eventually came up on the rim of Blitzen Canyon, a deep canyon that held trees and a cold clear running river. We descend the steep slopes and then followed the river downstream to our crossing point. We stepped into the cold water and its cooling embrace made my foot sing in joy as it relived some of the pain form the past few days. When we reached the far bank we dropped our packs and decided to take a break.
We filtered water, drank tea and snacks on a variety of food. Each of us were lost inner own thoughts as we sat by river enjoying the canyon. Once we had our fill we loaded our packs onto our backs and started the climb out of the canyon to the other side. We popped up on a dirt road and started following it towards Frenchglen, we could see the paved road off in the distance and each of us dreaded having to walk the final miles of the day on pavement. A quick look at our maps showed an old dirt road alternate that would take us by a warm spring, so in true fashion we opted for this route.
The Road quickly needed though and we found ourselves in large flat field of high grass, we took off cross country towards the warm springs. The grasses were waist high and golden, we pushed our way through the grass and at the far end of the field we hit an old road. As we walked along the road we looked for the warm spring, we came across an old corral and dirt abode brick shelter but no springs, as we were getting ready to leave Swept Away saw the spring. Never being one to avoid a soak she quickly eased her way into the warm water for a quick bath before we hit town.
We made short work of the dirt road and at the and we came to the historic Frenchglen Hotel, an old White building with a rich history and famous for its family style meals. We entered the hotel around 2pm and we inquired if they had any cancelations so we could get a room, we were told no, but we were welcome to camp in their grass. We bought a few sodas and cookies they had on the counter, grabbed our boxes and went to the yard to sort our resupply.
Ron was there in the van, we told him they had room for 3 for dinner and we had signed up, that put him the odd man out, he was bummed but understood. We charged our phones and other electronics while we sorted our boxes and enjoyed our only rest day to speak of. We had already done over 18 miles for the day and decided to use the remainder of the day to rest, get Salty’s new phone working, catch up with hime and plan the remainder of our trip.
As dinner time approached the grills decided to save the $25 each for dinner and just eat some of the excess food from their mail drops. Ron jumped at the chance to enjoy a meal a the hotel with me, so shortly before dinner, I went to the spigot with my trusty sponge and bag to clean up. I washed as a best I could so as to no smell too bad at dinner. I put on my wind shirt to lock in the stank and then Ron and I entered the hotel and tragically sat me in the corner by the kitchen with him next to me.
The other guest rolled in they were all on a trip with the Nature Conservancy studying the desert. They weren’t too keen to speak the weird guy at the end of the table who smelled and was eating like a ravenous lion on the plains, but eventually, my smile and charm warmed them up. I shared my tales of the ODT, where I had been the things I had seen and the wildlife we had experienced. By the end of the meal I had won them over and as dessert was served one lady said she was full and gave me hers, double dessert is hard to beat. With a full belly, I retired to the grass and my bed for the night. I played my head down looked at some stars and quickly drifted off to sleep.