With rain in the forecast, I debated Monday night whether to go hiking on Tuesday. A long pull from a bottle of Deschutes Black Butte Porter gave me an idea…
The drive to the Deschutes River was more a surfing contest than a drive, and it seemed like every truck I passed drove the exact wrong speed: too slow to stay behind, too fast to pass safely. But towards
But I digress. After parking at the back lot (per the Portlandhikers.org field guide), I strapped on my pack and crossed a long lawn filled with
The river trail is described as infested with ticks, but that didn’t bother me much as I strolled through little stands of trees and listened to birds sing above the river’s constant rhythm. My approach startled mergansers from bank-side thickets, and the hillsides glowed green and gold as the sun broke from the clouds. A few bouldery sections were starkly beautiful, with grey and brown stone covered in brilliant green lichen, red moss, yellow desert parsley, and carpets of grass laced with tiny pink and red flowers. Walking further, I passed an increasing amount of balsamroot in flower, accompanied by lupine and phlox. Wandering, with no real intentions, I soon found myself among large numbers of wooly-bears at Colorado Camp (3.3 miles).
From there, I became concerned with ticks. The trail disintegrated into an unmaintained game trail, crisscrossed with fallen limbs and marked only by flattened grass. At every step, I sank into the waterlogged ground, once into mud over my ankle, and the vegetation was tall and dense and encroached over the narrow path, rubbing against me at every step. I gave up after a mile and hiked up to the road, where the river was quieter and the ground more solid, and my attentions shifted from the small and beautiful to the large and grandiose.
Past Gordon Creek, the gravel road runs under a long cliff blasted from the hill, and the violent history of this area is cross-sectioned to make a geology-lover’s heart swell. Where the cut is highest, basalt columns radiate immense spokes in strange wheel-like patterns, and where the hill slopes more gently, it soon rises into jagged ramparts with rock arches overlooking grassy bowls where balsamroot blooms.
Last week I immersed myself (literally) in a rainy and snowy
All told, I hiked 11.3 miles and gained just 800’ elevation. Spring is in force along the