Lower Deschutes River (Eastern Oregon) 23-Jun-2012

Deschutes River State Recreation Area Oregon

We had other, closer in, hiking plans for the day, but the rain kept coming and we kept heading east until we finally (but only temporarily) ran beyond the wet at the Deschutes River State Recreation Area. This recreation area’s campground and boating facilities are located east of The Dalles, Oregon near the confluence of the Deschutes and Columbia Rivers. This recreation area offers hiking, biking, and angling on the river as well as equestrian trail and whitewater rafting adventures.  Although its hiking trail system is not that extensive, it’s a go-to spot when rain is soaking the Gorge further west.

After paying our entrance fee, we parked in the eastern-most lot and headed south along the Riverview Trail.

Deschutes River State Recreation Area Oregon

The Lower Deschutes River

We figured we could get a little hiking done before the weather caught up with us and so we headed south along the river, enjoying the aroma of damp sage brush as we hiked, first on the Riverview Trail, then along the Railbed Trail (an old railroad grade).

Deschutes River State Recreation Area Oregon

The Lower Deschutes River

Despite the foreboding weather, there were some interesting flowers blooming beside the railroad bed.

Deschutes River State Recreation Area Oregon

Salsify in bloom

The weather kept taunting us with sucker holes and small patches of blue, but any truly bluebird weather would prove to be a cruel joke.

Deschutes River State Recreation Area Oregon

That blue sky was a fake!

We got to where the south end of the Ferry Springs Trail joins the Railbed Trail and checked out the small “arch” just off the trail,

Deschutes River State Recreation Area Oregon

An arch along the railbed

and a cool golden beetle on a pale lavender thistle flower.

Deschutes River State Recreation Area Oregon

Thistle with guest

We went a little further down the Railbed Trail, turned a corner, and got a good view of the weather heading toward us from the south.

Deschutes River State Recreation Area Oregon

This blue sky was even more fake!

It still seemed (to me at least) like we had time for a little more hiking, so we doubled back and headed up the trail to Ferry Springs. About 100 yards up from the Railbed Trail, the LovedOne experienced a moment of mutual surprise with a young skunk hiding beside the trail. Tails were raised and things got a bit whiffy for a moment, but it seemed the skunk was running on empty for whatever reason and we were spared having to walk naked back to the trailhead. Even if spraying had happened, it’s likely the 40 knot cross wind we were starting to experience would have simply blown the spray right back on the skunk. The skunk ran away, we ran up the trail, the wind kept howling, there was thunder in the distance, and soon it started raining – seriously raining. It kept that up from before Ferry Springs all the way back to the car. The LovedOne is smiling at this point either because we’ve finally reached the car or because she doesn’t smell like a skunk or because the thought of beating me to death with a wet stick was making her happy.

Deschutes River State Recreation Area Oregon

And now we know where that “brave hiker” smile came into its own…

We stayed in Hood River, Oregon that night and were treated to one of the more spectacular sunsets we’ve seen in Oregon.

Deschutes River State Recreation Area Oregon

Moonrise over Hood River

Deschutes River State Recreation Area Oregon

Sunset at Hood River

It’s too bad it’s such a long drive from Portland, because the Lower Deschutes River is usually a good place to go to avoid the rain and has a number of flower and bird species you don’t see (or often see) in the Gorge proper. The loop from the parking lot out and back via Ferry Springs was only 4.8 miles roundtrip with 800 feet of elevation gain.

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