I had a great stay at the Frenchglen Hotel last night…and it was the last night they were open for the season! The hotel was full when I hiked through this summer….I ended up taking a few 0 days because I had massive blisters, and relaxed at the Steens Mountain Ranch then….so I was excited to get to experience the historic hotel. The caretaker John made an excellent dinner even though there were only three of us, and when I came down before sunrise this morning he already had the coffee going and gave me a goodie plate for Halloween full of candy and a Frenchglen Hotel mug. Sweet!!!!
The first few miles out of Frenchglen are rerouted (will be reflected in the update over the winter) on the Steens Loop road due to some changes in access, but I took a side trip to Barnes Warms Springs that looked inviting in the early morning , but I had miles to make.
I met with the Burns BLM on my way out yesterday, and got some info on an alternate or possible reroute along the Donner und Blitzen river. There is a trail the goes up about 4 miles from Page Springs campground, and I was doubly curious since this is a water alternate I hope to packraft next spring. Boaters can paddle 17 miles of this wilderness river, and I’m excited to come back.
I climbed out of the river channel at Fish Creek and met back up with the ODT at Big Springs. The rest of the day was supposed to follow a road, but it was so overgrown it either looked like single track, or I lost it. Even though the ODT is supposed to be ½ on old roads, many times you can’t even tell it was a road.
I made it to the South Steens campground by late afternoon. My alternate had added on about 1.5 miles, so I had already hiked 20 miles. I really only wanted to go a few more miles, but the Big Indian Trail was in great shape, and I ended up hiking another 4.5 miles before it got dark about 6pm. That’s what I get for hiking in November! There is snow on the higher elevations where I’ll be climbing tomorrow, but it looks amazing.