Spence Mountain Loop (Eastern Oregon) 01-May-2019

Spence Mountain hosts an evolving trail system on a 7,400 acre parcel of land on the west side of Upper Klamath Lake. It’s located 60 miles east of Medford and 15 miles west of Klamath Falls, making it readily accessible for a dayhike when trails in the High Cascades are still filled with snow. Although the trails are designed to accommodate mountain bikers, hikers, and trail runners, the emphasis is clearly on biking. The trail maps we found online (and at the trailhead) show both the built trails and (more faintly) some of the old logging roads that criss-cross the mountain. Some of these old roads are named and signed parts of the trail system.

Continue reading “Spence Mountain Loop (Eastern Oregon) 01-May-2019”

Rafting Oregon’s Lower Owyhee River V 18-Apr-2019

Day 5: “Andy’s” Camp to Birch Creek Take-out (5,030 cfs)

The last day on the river is always bittersweet – sad to be leaving such a beautiful and peaceful place but looking forward (perhaps secretly) to a hot shower (particularly enticing after these colder weather trips). Since we’d camped farther downstream than planned, we got a later start than usual for the short run to the take-out at Birch Creek [RM 51].

Continue reading “Rafting Oregon’s Lower Owyhee River V 18-Apr-2019”

Rafting Oregon’s Lower Owyhee River IV 17-Apr-2019

Day 4: Upper Whistling Bird Camp to “Andy’s” Camp (6,820 cfs)

Some high clouds came in overnight, but brought no rain, so the day got off to an easy start. This was good, because today would be our longest and busiest one on the river. We started by passing through the towering cliffs of Iron Point Canyon, which are formed from erosion-resistant rhyolite.

Continue reading “Rafting Oregon’s Lower Owyhee River IV 17-Apr-2019”

Rafting Oregon’s Lower Owyhee River III 16-Apr-2019

Day 3: Pruitt’s Castle Camp to Upper Whistling Bird Camp (6,740 cfs)

The rain ceased in the night and we awoke to a day of gloriously dry clarity. 😎 The colors and shapes that form Pruitt’s Castle, which had looked drab under yesterday’s cloudy skies, lit up exuberantly in the morning light. After the baggage rafts left, we did a short hike over to view the Chalk Basin and Lambert Dome.

Continue reading “Rafting Oregon’s Lower Owyhee River III 16-Apr-2019”

Rafting Oregon’s Lower Owyhee River II 15-Apr-2019

Day 2: Lower Fletcher Camp to Pruitt’s Castle Camp (4,850 cfs)

The rain ceased in the night, so today started out overcast but dry. We need the rain but life outdoors is just easier when you’re not perpetually moist. The day stayed mostly overcast, with occasional spots of almost clearing. Teaser sucker-holes. Happily, it didn’t rain again, and then only briefly, until we’d reached camp at Pruitt’s Castle [RM 24.5]. After breakfast, we floated down to Weeping Wall Springs to take on fresh, clear water (the river water is pretty silty), have lunch, and take a short hike.

Continue reading “Rafting Oregon’s Lower Owyhee River II 15-Apr-2019”

Rafting Oregon’s Lower Owyhee River I 14-Apr-2019

Background

The Owyhee River and its tributaries incise dramatic and awe-inspiring canyons in the sagebrush and grass-covered plains of northeastern Nevada, southwestern Idaho, and southeastern Oregon. These expansive plains and deep canyons represent some of the most stunningly scenic terrain on offer in Oregon.

Continue reading “Rafting Oregon’s Lower Owyhee River I 14-Apr-2019”

Visiting Oregon’s Wilderness Areas (July 2017)

Visits to Oregon's Wilderness Areas

In late 2015, as we were assembling our hiking to do list for 2016, it occurred to us that we had yet to at least visit all of Oregon’s 48 established and open federal wilderness areas. Two of the 48 (Oregon Islands and Three Arch Rocks) are closed to public entry (and would require amphibious operations even if they were open). Of the remaining 46, we had, as of 2015, hiked or visited all but 18. So we planned some trips to visit these. [Update: When we started this project in 2015, there were 47 wilderness areas in Oregon. One more, the Devils Staircase Wilderness was established in 2019 and we did a drive-by visit to it in 2020.]

Continue reading “Visiting Oregon’s Wilderness Areas (July 2017)”

Alvord Peak (Eastern Oregon) 14-May-2015

Alvord Peak Steens Mountain Wilderness Oregon

It was raining when we got up and it rained during the whole 60 mile drive from Frenchglen, Oregon to the turn-off to Alvord Peak at the southern end of the Steens, about 5 miles north of Fields, Oregon. This is Hike #72 in Bond’s 2005 75 Scrambles in Oregon, the difference being that the eastern Steens Road is now paved to the turn-off and beyond. We made the turn and, after a mile of 4×4 driving on a deeply rutted two-track dirt road, reached the trailhead at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wilderness boundary.  There we sat in the truck until the rain quit.  When it soon did, we went for the peak.

Continue reading “Alvord Peak (Eastern Oregon) 14-May-2015”

Little Blitzen River Canyon (Eastern Oregon) 13-May-2015

Little Blitzen River Canyon Steens Mountain Oregon

After a night of rain, we woke to clear, almost cloudless skies and new snow on Steens Mountain! We decided to take advantage of these good conditions – which didn’t last all day – to hike one of the classics – the trail into the canyon of the Little Blitzen River on the west side of Steens Mountain (Hike #91 in Sullivan’s Eastern Oregon guide (Third Edition)). The unique combination of clear skies and fresh snow made for an amazing hike!

Continue reading “Little Blitzen River Canyon (Eastern Oregon) 13-May-2015”

Visiting Steens Mountain (Eastern Oregon) 12-May-2015

Steens Mountain Wilderness Oregon

The terrain in and around the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area and the Steens Mountain Wilderness is well known to birders, photographers, and hunters but seems less so to hikers – the various hiking guides for Oregon usually only list a few “classic” hikes in this area. That, combined with it being 6-7 hours from Oregon’s population centers, means that crowded trails are never an issue.  Our plan was to spend a few days out in the Steens checking out some of the classic and not so classic hikes and starting to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.

Continue reading “Visiting Steens Mountain (Eastern Oregon) 12-May-2015”

Ice Lake (Eagle Cap Wilderness) 8/11-Aug-2013

Ice Lake Matterhorn Eagle Cap Wilderness Oregon


I had managed to live in Oregon for years without making the effort to backpack in the Wallowa Mountains of Eastern Oregon, home of the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Some dayhikes, but no real backcountry stuff.  So finally I just made time amongst work, business travel, and everyday living for a quick trip east. Leaving Portland at 4:00AM on Thursday, I made it to the Wallowa Lake Trailhead at 10:00AM – to find the parking area only half full. Predictably – since it’s either the first or second most popular destination in the Eagle Cap Wilderness (the Lakes Basin may be first) – I’d chosen Ice Lake as my goal, with the idea of maybe hiking the Matterhorn and Sacajawea Peak as well.

Continue reading “Ice Lake (Eagle Cap Wilderness) 8/11-Aug-2013”