It’s mid August, the dreaded County fair has come to an end, it’s hot and smoky with no relief in sight. What to do? Head to the coast for tuna of course!
When it is really hot inland it’s pretty common for the coast to be fogged in, cloudy and cool. That was certainly the case this time around. It was a welcome break after weeks of heat and quite a bit of wildfire smoke.
The Grande Ronde was the last in the string of spring and early summer overnight floats on the calendar. Located in far northeastern Oregon it’s a bit of a drive to get to but well worth if for the scenery and great floating. The flows had been running high all spring and they didn’t come down enough to provide for any good fishing for this trip, but that was the overall theme for most of the trips this year. With high flows the trip was short each day on the water, with 2 to 3 hours being enough to get you to the next camp.
As always the scenery was spectacular.
The most plentiful wildlife seemed to be swallowtail butterflies which were out in droves.
After a pretty steady run of rivers it was time to stay ashore for the weekend and head to Steens Mountain. Steens Mountain is a huge fault block mountain in southeastern Oregon. From the west it’s a steady incline, from the east a steep dramatic drop off. The western side is also riddled with dramatic glacial canyons you can only appreciate with a good hike. We arrived for the weekend just before dark on Friday night at South Steens campground. There were about four other camps, not bad for a Friday night. Just as we set up and had the fire started the rain set in and we spent the rest of the night in the camper.
Next morning we were off to hike up the Big Indian Gorge. I’d only been here once before quite a while back. It wasn’t a wilderness then, but it was probably a little more wild. Anyhow, we made our way toward the gorge, a big glacial carved canyon cutting deep into the west side of the mountain. Note the new snow from the night before. It is June, right?