Southeast Oregon, Steens Mountain

September 16-20, 1985

Thirty of us braved the unknown as we headed eastward with brief stops at Sisters, to view the one man town of Millican, lunch at Brothers, art in the post office at Burns and on to Ontario for the night. Our second day found us viewing the Oregon Trail along the Cow Hollow Road SE of Vale, then the rugged gorge and high dam of the Owyhee. Rain began to fall, so by the time we started south along the Succor Creek road we soon knew we should not have. Before we could find a place to turn around we were in the ditch. Don and Ewart walked to the Springs Ranch where, fortunately, there was a tractor powerful enough to pull us out and an owner and hired man gracious enough to see us safely on our way. We took Hwy 93 through Homedale to Jordan Valley, then were turned back by roads on our way to Silver City. After sampling Basque food we headed west to Arock, then the Owyhee canyon at Rome, with a short stop at Rome Jct where a gaggle of geese tried to save the inhabitants from an invasion of Obsidians.

The weather improved as we passed Follyfarm and started down along the face of the Steens. We saw prongbucks, stopped at Alvord hot springs, then visited the cozy homestead of the Weston Bros. who have an orchard, garden and mercury mine and live in a quonset hut embedded in the mountain. Cactus Smith regaled us about life of a cowboy at Andrews. We visited Fields leaving 6 and on to Denio and Denio Jct. for the night. After picking up our group at Fields we crossed the pass in the mountains emerging on the Catlow Valley’s ancient lake with its beds and shorelines. A brief stop at Roaring Springs allowed us to view the flora and fauna. Frenchglen proved to be a pleasant interlude before we started to climb the Steens on a rough road. It was solid as far as Fish Lake where we enjoyed lunch, but began to get muddy with melting snow above the Kiger Gorge turnoff. Deciding we could go no farther we took the time to hike both to the summit to see Alvord Desert (now wet) and then to go to the head of the magnificent Kiger glaciated gorge.

Going was slow but upon returning to the lowlands we raced to the Job Corp Camp at Malheur Lake and enquired about future trips to that location. Not having time to go to headquarters we proceeded along the raised road that leads through greatly enlarged Malheur Lake at the Narrows. The dry summer has reversed the tendency for the lake to rise, in fact, it may have dropped more than a foot. We stopped on Wright’s Point and then proceeded to Burns for the night.

Our last morning dawned bright and we proceeded westward to Riley, then south to Wagontire. After viewing the premises and petting the peculiar looking mule, we turned westward to Christmas Lake, a community of small acreages and scattered businesses of perhaps 900 people. The area has been promoted over the years and a lodge and articiial lake remain from the early day developments. We ate lunch at Fort Rock and had time to view the plaques and climb onto the wave cut bench. From there it was home via Gilchrist, Crescent and Willamette Pass. It was truly an eventful trip and one not likely to be repeated soon. Much credit goes to the committee and Bill and Jan who prepared the way.

Sticks-in-the-mud were Beulah Barker, Bernie Claypool, Rita Baxter, Florence Dull, Clair Cooley, Jan Gund, Virginia DeMers, Mert Hayman, Vera Heidenreich, Jane Hilt, Virginia Hodson, Miki Hutchison, Bea Lefevre, Kay Lundeen, Bob and Marilyn Morris, Lucille Meloy, Lois Schreiner, Frances Newsom, Elizabeth Officer, Hazel Peck, Janice Pattison, Clarence and Dorothy Scherer, Bonnie Rickard, Grace Smith, Paula Vehrs, Val Thoenig, and leaders Bill Eaton and Ewart Baldwin with Don Moorehead as bus driver.

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