Tag Archives: Hike

Rimrock Springs, on the Crooked River National Grasslands: A Look at the Eastside’s Sagebrush Steppe Region

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In the comics world this would be called my ‘splash page’, a picture related to but not exactly honest, done for effect. This is taken from the top of the popular destination Smith Rock State Park, on top of Misery ridge, the trails up and down of which have been the cause behind many an emergency run to the local hospital. Here we’re looking across irrigated pasture lands in the middle distance, that would be steppe if not for all of the added water and on to the Cascades along the horizon.

You cannot make someone like something.  To many, a desert will always only look brown and dead, but for those attuned to them, deserts can be beautiful, awe inspiring, expansive, places of raw earth and geology, intimately tied to sky, filled with little jewel boxes, hidden just out of view and down at your feet…places of rock, delimited by the scarcity of water, with plants that not only tolerate its paucity, but require it, where the sun and wind seek it out.  My wife and I grew up in the ‘Sagebrush Steppe’, the Oregon High Desert and on its edge where it meets the Ponderosa Pine Forest.  I often spent hot summer days with my family water skiing on reservoirs in the dammed up canyons of the Deschutes and Crooked rivers, while she often found herself living out of places like Summer Lake and northern New Mexico for the summer.  We both still feel the draw of these places, while others only hunger for more green and lush landscapes where the scale is shifted and plants cover the earth often with flowers that you can’t help be pulled to.  As a horticulturist, I actually appreciate both. Continue reading

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Whychus Canyon Preserve

IMG_0062Whychus Creek starts up in the Three Creeks area south of Sisters, OR, below Broken Top and the Three Sisters, and runs north-easterly to where it joins the Deschutes River winding much of the way through a canyon carved through basalt.  It’s a beautiful band of green cutting its way through the Juniper – Sagebrush Scrub country where I grew up.  I’d never been to the Preserve before and was happy to see it mostly intact.  Though development has been creeping up along some of its edges the Preserve is being actively managed by the Deschutes Land Trust these days.  We hiked it on June 26 and many plants  were still in bloom.  Many people from the wet side of the Cascades have never developed an appreciation for the starkness of Oregon’s High Desert country.  Julie and I both grew up over here and where some people see barreness we see country defined by its sky, its geology and the spaces in between that set off the unique character of everything that lives here.  We took this hike with long time friends, Robert and Elayne, who stayed in Bend when we and others left.

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