Oregon Desert Trail Section 7 – Day 1 – 16 miles

The air is so soft! Slight whiffs of sweet blossoms met me right out of Paisley, and the low clouds lend a sense of moisture in the air. It’s not humid per say, but it’s not the usual dry parched air either. It’s soft, and envelops me as I walk the 8 miles of road along the Chewaucan River this morning.

I’ve found more reasons to come out and hike another section of the Oregon Desert Trail this week… (funny how that happens!) this time to hike the trail between Paisley and Lakeview. I’ll be leading a trail crew out here next month, and I came to scout out the conditions prior to the trip. Since my volunteers will probably only work on about 3 miles of trail, why am I hiking 50? Well after my hike I’m meeting up with a group from the Oregon Timber Trail, a bike route from California to Washington, that shares the tread with us and the Fremont National Recreation Trail. I will be helping that group out to maintain a section of their route that continues where the ODT veers east, on top of the epic Winter Rim. If there is extra time the crew might backtrack to the section I’m hiking to clear any trees I might find, and/or I’ll be able to pass the list of needed maintenance in to the Forest Service who might send their own crews back out this summer. I’ll also hike past the trail work that we’ve been able to fund for the Lakeview Alternative high school this year and last. I’ll be able to scout out their work and identify what could be done in the future.

Multiple reasons for a 50 mile hike!!!

After lunch at Chewaucan crossing, I crossed the bridge for trail… the next 60 miles are primarily trail (with one big section of road that the Timber Trail and Forest Service want to turn into trail… I’ll be walking the proposed section with them later this week). It is a slow meandering climb, and the only living things I saw were pronghorn, lizards and birds. Ahhhhh, so nice.

Lots of water, even more than is on our water chart, and the afternoon passed lazily by as I made my way south. I wasn’t out to crush any miles, so took my time and made camp on the side of a slope hidden from the trail and tucked under a huge ponderosa pine. The ground was drying out, enough that I wasn’t making any footprints, but some horseback rider had been through and sunk a good 6” into the trail. Grrrrrrr. Don’t travel on muddy trails people!! Especially a heavy horse or a bike (there were a few bike tracks that had sunk in an inch or two, but the major transgression was from the horse.) I hiked about half a mile of the trail that my ONDA volunteers cleared last year, but it wasn’t very apparent. Bummer. Again horse hooves and new green growth in the tread. At least there was only one new down tree so far in my hike.

The imminent wet weather is supposed to hold off so I’m cowboy camping tonight.

mmm, dinner!

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