I was lulled to sleep by the gentle flow of the Owyhee River, but woke with a panic a few hours later to the smell of smoke.
Fire can scare me quicker than almost anything else, and I sat up under the bright moon, heart racing. Since I was in the bottom of the canyon I had no vantage point to see if something was close, and had to remind myself that smoke could be coming as far as the next state, carried by the winds. What was disconcerting was that there had been no other smoke yet this week. No smells, no haze. This could be something new, and close. There wasn’t much I could do, my spot by the river was probably the best place to be even if it was close. Finally my heart returned to its normal pace, and I actually slept really well the rest of the night.
In the morning I tanked up with water in preparation for a water carry the rest of the day, tonight, and about 7 miles tomorrow. I would cross Bogus Creek in a few miles, but with the Owyhee water relatively clear, I figured I would fill up when I knew the water would be good.
The morning I walked across a lava landscape called Lambert Rocks and could spy the stunning chalk basin across the river. I finished Section 24 and started on 23. There isn’t really access to the section end, there is a road of sorts, but it was so full of jagged lava rocks that it would mean certain death for almost any tire out there. This is really a 60 mile section from Leslie Gulch to Rome, if you are talking about something vehicle accessible for a section hike. Or you could break it up at Birch Creek, a pretty good road and popular rafting take out.
The road that wasn’t a road came to an end and I crossed country-ed over to the towering basalt wall where there was supposed to be access to the top of the rim. I had already noticed the databook said there was a road there, but my map said cross country. I was very relieved to see a “road” steeply climbing up to the top. It’s good when I can catch little discrepancies like this that I can fix later. I would never in a million years drive on this road, ride a bike, motorcycle or horse on it. On foot was the only way to go. Beautiful views!!!
This started the on and off again walking of the Owyhee Rim, at hundreds of feet above the river below.
Then some cross country. I visited some dry dirt reservoirs and some nasty neon green cow trough water. I took a liter of that just for an emergency and hoped I wouldn’t have to drink it. The hue made me think maybe there was something chemical or toxic going on.
More rim, more hot exposed desert. I used my sun umbrella most of the afternoon and took breaks under it too.
I made a stop at a water trough in between a bend in the route and found good clearish water. I dumped out the day-glow green in favor of clear. Whew. I will definitely drink it.
Back to the rim where I found camp right on the edge. So close in fact that after about an hour I changed my mind and moved farther back from the edge. Thousands of years of rock fall from the vertical cliffs was apparent below and I didn’t want to be the trigger for the next big release of rock.
Last night of the section, I’ll be staying in a cabin in Rome tomorrow! Burger, beer and bed!!!!
And no evidence of fire, haze or smoke today. Nice.