Smith Rock—Painted Hills Picture Trip

May 23, 1976

We left Eugene about 8:15 a.m. under heavy overcast, our caravan of three cars celebrating the Bicentennial with a red VW, white Volvo, and blue Pinto! Although at our first picture stop, Sahalie Falls the sky was still cloudy, we had hopes of brighter skies across the Cascades. At the Sisters View picture stop, south of the town of Sisters, we were disappointed by grey skies and cloud covered mountain tops. The wildflowers, however, added a colorful note. At Smith Rock State Park the sun broke through teasingly—just to show us what a spectacle we would have had on a sunny day. Lunch at Cougar Campground along Marks Creek on Highway 26, provided relaxing pine scenery and wildflowers. Next, an unscheduled stop down the eastern slope of Ochoco Pass added variety to our wildflower quest. Then on to Painted Hills, which is now a division of the John Day National Monument. By waiting out the slowly shifting clouds, we could picture most scenes in sunlight. Here the bitterroot was only budding (it had been in full bloom at Smith Rock). The cactus was not out either—a week too early. Here, at 5 p.m. at the base of some gracefully rounded red, yellow, and purple mounds, the trip officially ended, leaving the red, white, and blue units to explore at their own leisure on the return journey. The blue unit headed northward, along a 36 mile mountain gravel road past Burnt Ranch to the John Day River. Here we were rewarded by unusual lighting which made the river silvery ribbon bending gracefully through grey-brown sagebrush and green fields, backdropped by a huge monolith. Then winding over a pass, through a stream ford, cutting between stark volcanic dikes and past an old gold mine which is now being worked a-new, and down to ashwood where pavement begins, heralding the beginning of civilisation. Next a search along a sunset lighted ridge for barrel cactus. Only buds here, though it is usually finished blooming by the time the rabbit ear cactus is out. After Chinese dinner at Madras, we arrived back at 19th & Patterson at 1 a.m. The group: Mary Bridgeman, Rodger Bridgeman, Pete Cecil, Gladys Grancorvitz, Don Hunter, leader, Helen McDermott, Claire Meyer, Edythe Pearson, Eugene Pearson, Charlene Simpson, Merle Traudt.

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