Wow, what a ride. You guys deserve some photos and a real story or two. This post has some cell phone shots. Later I will come up with film and digital renditions.
The Owyhee Canyon, I knew from the beginning, would be one of the most spectacular and adventurous places I would visit this year. It did not disappoint! I brought along a friend and we had a great time exploring the desert. We ran into a lot of car problems too on my jeep. First day the gas tank started leaking from a seal which I had just changed. No big deal except that we could not fill it all the way without leakage. So we put that problem behind us and went off towards the first destination, Chalk basin. The road was horrendous the way we went, and the jeep overheated. The radiator cap lost its seal. So we missed the sunset over Chalk basin (but I still got a shot of the clouds). That night we brainstormed and enjoyed watching the stars rotate overhead after the moon set.
With 10 gallons of water, we were able to baby the rig into the nearest town, Rome, 25 miles away where we would see about getting some help. With roads like these, 25 miles is a long way to go. The ten gallons got us all the way there, barely. Thankfully I have AAA plus membership, which allowed us to be towed, and Rome Station has AAA emergency services. A man in Rome suggested his opinion that the jeep had a major engine problem. We were towed to Nampa, ID, where we met an honest mechanic. Thankfully he spotted the real problem - the radiator cap. He could fix it for $200, but we had the tools with us to fix it on our own, and the parts were less than half that. I also got to meet my dad's cousin Nathan, who gave us a place to work and sleep for the night, and who also happens to be a backer of this project (Thank you so much for the hospitality!).
Day three started with high hopes as we took off from ID to salvage the trip. Thankfully we were able to get off the ground this time, and made it all the way until the last day before more car problems erupted. More on that later; on to the good stuff! We had amazing clouds this day. It had rained the night before and the storm was breaking up. Amazing clouds helped the morning light on the orange canyon walls really pop. We saw some really cool rock formations in the gulches of the northern Owyhee canyon lands.
(looks like an evil face, doesn't it!)
I pulled out the 4x5 camera to shoot one in a spot called Leslie Gulch, and enjoyed some really nice light in Juniper and Three Finger Gulches. That evening we made our way over some really gnarly rocky terrain to the base of Three Finger Rock. As we explored, looking for a nice spot to camp and shoot the sunset, we came upon a rattlesnake 3.5 ft long and 2 inches in diameter. Turns out, big snake tastes like chicken! That night the moon lit Three Finger Rock partially as the stars blanketed the sky behind it. Two owls flew overhead in the night sky to check us out. The whole scene was amazing and the night was never too cold.
In the morning we took off and made our way south to the area of Three Forks, in the far SE corner of the state of Oregon. The road was not too bad until we got down into the canyon... We were surprised to find quite a few camping at the forks. One group was actually from Oregon City, which is where I am from. Go figure! We went on, just a mile down the road to a hot springs. The road in there was nasty, but the jeep handled it. A few hours in the hot spring canyon did a lot of good for our sore bodies. The road into the hot springs was nasty, but the road beyond it, up to where we camped was absolutely ridiculous. It was like climbing boulders up a 25% incline. Imagine Lombard street in San francisco... Only, boulders and loose rock. The jeep actually never bottomed out, to my surprise. Thankfully, the effort was rewarded and the view up top was really nice. I pulled out the 4x5 camera and snapped another black and white photo in the evening. That night we stumbled on another rattlesnake, but decided to let it live this time. I got a really nice photo of this one... Good thing, too, because it was too close for comfort! Sunset was really colorful.
The road (Second shot is from day 5 on the way down):
(The photos don't quite do the road justice!)
Day 5 was our last day to really explore the canyon. A few miles off from camp we found another extremely amazing section of the river. I'll let the photos do the talking!
After some exploring, it was time to get out of the canyon and start towards a location to spend our last night. After serving us greatly in the Owyhee, the jeep started acting up again the moment we tried to get to speed on the main road. It was a peculiar problem, which turned out to be the fuel pump... Again. So, yet again, we made our way slowly up the road and turned off to get to Juniper Lake near the Alvord Desert by dark. That night was really windy, but the wind whipped some extremely nice clouds for the sunrise the next morning.
We woke up and headed for the city bright and early. It made me sad, leaving. When I got home, I actually felt homesick!
Alright, thats all for now. I promise that the book will be more interesting of a read than this :) I just needed to get the basic story out there and maybe some of you will enjoy it!
(I'm working on the car right now, hoping to have it fixed by July 9th, the beginning of the next adventure; Great basin round 1!)
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