Part 15: Steens Mountains to Bend, OR


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The Trip

We spent the night in a BLM campground called South Steens.  There were few open sites.  We discovered that Antelope season just opened and there were plenty of hunters trying their luck in the surrounding hills.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

We had a quiet night, doing BBQ chicken for dinner.  We did hear trucks moving near daybreak, but heard no gunshots.  Once we broke camp to move on, we passed a fellow in a campsite close to ours that managed to bag an antelope.  He gutted the 'lope at the kill site and brough the carcass back to camp for skinning and quartering.

The antelope had odd horns that made it rather rare.  The hunter intended to get the hide and head processed by a taxidermist as a trophy.

The blood stripes on the cheeks were an interesting touch.  I hope he would be showering soon as I expect that it will smell quickly, not to mention drawing flies.

A nice specimen.

The asymmetrical horns made this buck unique.

Based on our conversations with the hunters, we changed our travel plans.  They stated that the northern access path into the Steens was open, but the loop connection to the south access was closed.  We could still go to the crest, we just had to backtrack to the north entrance.  So, off we went.  20 miles of dirt got us to the highlands of the Steens where the trees started to appear.  The lower reaches were Juniper bushes and grasses.

Before long, we started seeing patches of snow left over from the winter.  Many wild flowers were in bloom right next to the snow.

There were not a lot of trees at the higher reaches of the mountain.

Low scrub dominated the landscape.

To the west we could see one of the many gorges on the mountain.

There were yellow, purple and white flowers.

This glaciated gorge was particularly striking.

Well below our position on the overlook point, I spotted this hawk working for lunch.

The trail went right up to the crest of the mountains.

We stopped at another overlook at the crest and Kathleen got out to take a short video.

The crest provided a striking view of the Alvord desert to the east including the "dry" lake.

Our path the previous day took us past both dry lakes above.

To the north, we could see another lakebed as well as some irrigated areas.

This is the Alvord Ranch, one of the oldest settlements in the area and it was clearly visible from the overlook.

We turned around at the crest and headed out.  The light had changed allowing a reasonable photo of one of the gorges on the western flanks of the Steens.

There you go, just when you were feeling studly, you are confronted by some evidence that you are not even in the same ballpark.  This fellow seemingly ran the 20 miles from the lodge at the base of the mountain to the top of the peak.  In addition to the mileage, the elevation delta was about 5,000 feet.

A parting shot of the snow and flowers.

Our mog buddy Ben told us that we would not be disappointed with a visit to the Steens and he was right.  It was very scenic and we would return if we are in the area.  The antelope hunt provided an interesting twist to an otherwise normal camping experience.  From the Steens, we headed west to the Bend, OR area for an RV park and resupply.
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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2010, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.