Road a walkin’ to mountain and canyon views

September 8, 2019, day 4

Wild Rose Reservoir to Owyhee River (OC 129), ~27 miles, ~64 miles total

We got up an hour earlier than we have been to ensure we’d make it to the next reliable water source. Headlamp walking the first half hour with jackrabbits hopping about. Around dawn overcast skies hardly revealed the sunrise.

Such contrast to our friends DNR and Dan walking across this same area two weeks earlier with 100 degree temps. We kept our wind shirts on for several hours of 50 degree climes with and rain showers. (So far, it rains 3 out of every 4 days on the ODT.)

We trotted along little used roads amid sagebrush and bunch grasses. Long sightlines with horizons of blue gray cloudy skies intermixed with sage greens and golden grasses. Song birds singing sweetly (sage thrashers maybe?) amid the sage and rabbitbrush.

Highlights of the morning included unexpected 4G at breakfast and watching turkey vultures take flight from the corral at Birch Spring Ranch.

A couple hours and more miles later the clouds burned off and we had views of Owyhee Canyon, Saddle Mountain, Steens (explains the 4G), the Pueblos, Trout and Oregon Canyon Mountains, and many more mountains.

Gabriel and I realized that we were looking west at the hills beyond Big Sand Gap off the Alvord Desert. Four years ago we’d been there with DNR and wondered what was east of the low sandy hilly mountains. Now we have an idea. This trip is helping us make acquaintance with parts of southeast Oregon.

Pictures from our visit to Big Sand Gap in October 2015 can be found here: https://www.yellowleaf.org/scramble/g/r/2015-10-04-alvord.html

When Iron Point came into view we knew we were getting close to our descent into Owyhee Canyon to the beautiful green ribbon along the blue waters of Owyhee River. Water beckoning.

We hopped a barb wire fence and made our way down to an old jeep track. Because the day before we’d thought it was 30 miles to here, the next water, but it was actually 25, we decided we’d walk another five miles to the next access road along the river. Warm road miles along old military wagon road amid the lava formations of Lambert Rocks. Bogus Creek was cool and refreshing to dip our sungloves in (but we didn’t pick up any water based on DNR’s water beta). The private land nearby the creek was brimming with tall green cottonwoods that almost seemed to be a mirage in the late afternoon sun and shadows.

We kept walking and made it down to the banks of the Owyhee River around 7 pm. Canyon wrens welcomed us to the peaceful river scene. The sound of the river and fragrance of riparian vegetation reminded us a bit of camping in the Grand Canyon on last year’s river trip.

We collected water for the 23 miles to Rome. Not knowing if we’d be able to make the cross country miles in good time, we made sure we’d have water for a dry camp.

Then we enjoyed dinner with the sun setting over the Owyhee Canyon, bats flying about, and the stars flickering into the night sky.

Footsore after 27 miles, but what a reward for hoofing it to get here!

Dawn walking across the berm of a dry reservoir.

Golden bunch grass and gray blue skies. Such horizons! I wonder if Rothko was inspired by landscapes of the Basin and Range.

Alas pictures of the canyon are on my camera, not my phone! Will have to transfer them at a later date.

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