Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Central Oregon roamings, part 7 - Sheep Rock Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds-Blue Basin roamings

OK, so I've talked about how much there is in the Sheep Rock Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument to see. Now for the part that required a bit of effort, some hot day hiking, some moments looking for buzzing rattlesnakes, and a lot of appreciation for a beautiful geologic area!

There are two trails that make up the Blue Basin area - the Island of Time shorter 1 mile trail that stays low and goes into the canyons that make up the Blue Basin. I did that one, but not until first hiking the 3+ mile loop trail that climbs fairly steeply to the hillsides above the basin to offer long views in many directions up and down the John Day River Valley, down into the Blue Basin, and complete with a canyon hike to get up there.

This first stretch was where I was most aware looking for rattlesnakes as it was so hot at 3:00pm as I passed through here, gaining elevation, sage, a few junipers...never saw one but was buzzed by them twice! Rascals...the nerve to get me all jumpy but then cower and hide so I can't photograph them? Next time I'll spot you first, THEN you can show me how tough you are!

After thoroughly enjoying the hot hike above, I came down very steeply to join the Island of Time trail and hiked up into the basin as well. Wow. What color, what a landscape! Previous days thunderstorms had the wash that flowed out of the basin showing signs of having really been roaring with water, but now was dry again which I found fascinating on this hot day!

Upon leaving in early evening I reflected on my two long days enjoying every part of the national monument throughout these regions. I was so pleased to have been here as I drove back toward Prineville. And I was so pleased to know I had a long full day ahead of me still to explore areas sound of Bend, Oregon in lava lands! Onward to that shortly!

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