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Central Oregon Hiking Lakeview Oregon Trip report

Lake Abert and Summer Lake – 07/24/2020

Our time in Lakeview had come to an end and we were ready to head home after a week of hot, challenging, but enjoyable hiking. Before we went home though we had planned two more stops on the way. The second stop was to do the final featured hike in William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Easter Oregon” 3rd edition in the Klamath Falls section. That hike was at the Summer Lake Wildlife Area but before that hike we had originally planned to hike to the top of Abert Rim.

The Abert Rim hike had been a featured hike in the 2nd edition of Sullivan’s book but was now relegated to an “additional” hike. The hike to Abert Rim entails a 1.6 mile, 2100′ elevation gain climb entirely off-trail. By this point of our trip we just weren’t up for another off-trail adventure let alone one that gained 2100′ in 1.6 miles. We decided that instead of climbing Abert Rim we would park at the wildlife viewing area where the hike would begin and walk down to Abert Lake. We parked at a signed pullout between mile posts 84 & 85 of Highway 395.
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After reading the interpretive signs at the pullout we headed down a steep trail (we missed the dirt road that led down at a much gentler grade).
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Once we were down the steep little hill we found the dirt road and followed it right along the lake watching the birds and the sunrise.
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IMG_2114Gulls and avocets

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IMG_2140American avocets

We walked down the shore until we reached a brushy area which was likely Juniper Creek. From here we had a good look across the highway at Juniper Gulch which would have been where we bushwacked up to the rim.
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To get back to our car we followed the dirt road up from the lakeshore.
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We wound up doing a short .7 mile loop which was perfect. From there we drove back south on Hwy 395 to Hwy 31 and turned right (NW). We turned into the wildlife area headquarters (near milepost 70) and followed a pointer fot a “Wildlife Viewing Loop”. After 1.6 miles at a junction we turned right and followed this road to its end at the Windbreak Campground (a $10 parking permit is required, we purchased ours online prior to our trip).
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When planning the trip we had been worried about mosquitoes but for the most part they had been a non-issue. They were a bit of a nuisance along South Fork Crooked Creek (post) and behind Barnhardi Cabin (post) but that had been it. I had received one bite (I think) while Heather had not been quite as lucky, her shoulders were pretty bumpy with just a few on the legs. Our luck ran out at Summer Lake with it’s marshes and ponds it was the prefect recipe for the little buggers. Deet was applied quickly but not before Heather had a 20+ new bites.

Despite that the hike here was nice, it was flat following dikes for 2.3 miles which meant no elevation gain. Birds were almost as plentiful as mosquitoes but boy are they skittish. Most of the ducks flew off before we really got a chance to focus on them. The white faced ibis were more photogenic and we got to see another sandhill crane. We also spotted a coyote and two pups crossing the dike.
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IMG_2172A white faced ibis and some ducks.

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IMG_2187Swallow rave

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IMG_2218Sandhill crane

IMG_2220Look more ducks!

IMG_2226White faced ibis coming in for a landing.

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IMG_2272Looking out over Summer Lake

IMG_2294White faced ibis

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IMG_2312Black-neck stilt

IMG_2335Killdeer

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IMG_2319Great blue heron in flight.

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After 2 miles the dike made a hard right and .3 miles later (at a tractor) we reached private land and turned back.
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The dike also provided a good view of Winter Ridge where we had started our Lakeview area hikes (post).
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We double timed it back to the car in an attempt to keep the bugs at bay. We could have done without those pests but c’est la vie. It had been a fun week but our feet were done and by the time we had gotten back to the car we were even happier with our decision to save Abert Rim for another time. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Lake Abert and Summer Lake

Categories
Hiking Oregon SE Oregon Trip report

Pillars of Rome and Chalk Basin – SE Oregon Vacation Day 5

On day 5 we said goodbye to Jordan Valley and headed west on Highway 95 to Rome where we made a brief detour to visit the Pillars of Rome. The sun was still rising when we arrived so our lighting wasn’t great for photos but the interesting rock formation here were a taste of what we’d be seeing later during our hike at Chalk Basin.
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After visiting the pillars we returned to the highway and followed our guidebooks directions to Chalk Basin. The description of the drive calls for a high clearance vehicle and I would add you need all wheel drive at a minimum. The final 16.6 miles of the drive were by far the worst we’ve driven. A theme was developing on this trip and we once again parked before the recommended starting point. This time we parked .9 miles from where the guidebook suggested at an old tire that had been converted to a water trough.
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There are no trails at Chalk Basin but after walking the .9 miles we turned right at an x junction onto an even worse old roadbed and headed down into Chalk Basin.
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There were some tire tracks present, I can only assume they were from OHVs, as we followed the road for 1.2 miles to a fork. Along the way we passed some tufted evening primroses and an orange globe mallow.
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Across the basin we had a view of some mini painted hills.
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We veered right at the fork and in a tenth of a mile came to a crossing of a dry wash.
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We turned right here and headed down the wash.
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We followed this wash for .7 miles to a drop off at a dry waterfall. It was an interesting hike through the wash which it turned out was not entirely dry.
IMG_6341Side blotched lizard

IMG_6353Wildflowers in the wash

IMG_6357Smooth stemmed blazing star

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IMG_6364End of the water in the wash

IMG_6373Above the dry waterfall

Following our guidebook we backtracked 100 feet and climbed out of the wash up the gentlest slope to the south.
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When we crested the hill we could see the canyon we had been in winding its way toward the Owyhee River Canyon.
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We continued south heading for another large dry wash, this one running north/south.
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We headed for that wash passing a group of smooth, rounded protrusions.
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As we were dropping into this wash the one and only snake we would see on our whole trip passed between us heading uphill. It was a decently sized garter snake, not one of the areas many rattlesnakes. Heather never even saw it and it disappeared into the sagebrush. Soon after a small side blotched lizard raced into a different bush, then a much larger lizard raced out of that same area and up onto some rocks.
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We were supposed to follow this wash for another .7 miles, staying left at forks, to the head of the wash. We passed some interesting rock formations along the way but somewhere along the line we took one left fork too many.
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We didn’t realize it at first as we had been trying to only take the most obvious left hand forks. When we reached the end of the wash we headed cross country toward the lowest point we could see which happened to be a little to the south of a large rock fin.
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If we had been in the correct spot we would have crested a ridge at the edge of a rim just to the NE of a feature known as the Yellow Knoll. Instead when we reached the top of the ridge the Yellow Knoll was still quite a ways to the south.
IMG_6419Yellow Knoll with the Yellow Dome to its left.

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We followed the ridge up and down a little under half a mile to the Yellow Knoll. The views form the ridge were great as we made our way over.
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We eventually made it over to the Yellow Knoll and hiked to a viewpoint atop it.
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After checking out the view from Yellow Knoll we headed for Yellow Dome and climbed to its top.
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The view from Yellow Dome was even more impressive as the Owyhee River flowed past rows of chalk pillars.
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After admiring that view we headed back past Yellow Knoll and followed the canyon rim for half a mile before striking off cross country following a dry stream bed in a westerly direction.
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This dry stream ran past the water trough that we’d parked at so all we had to do was keep that on our left and it would lead us back to our waiting car.
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Dry stream bed (indentation) on the left with Steens Mountain in the distance.

Following the stream bed worked perfectly and we were soon back on the horrible road after a spectacular 6.9 mile hike at Chalk Basin. After surviving the road we took Highway 78 north to East Steens Road where we turned left toward Fields. The road is paved for the first 10.9 then turns to gravel for the next 42.3 miles before turning pack to pavement. The views of Steens Mountain and the Alvord Desert along this drive were amazing and we did stop once when we spotted a pair of sandhill cranes in a field.
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When we arrived at Fields Station we checked on the availability of a room. Fortunately there was one available for the night so we checked in. The room was actually a large front room with a bed, table, chairs, refrigerator/freezer and a coffee maker, a bathroom, and another bedroom in the back. After getting settled we went over to the store/cafe and ordered bacon cheeseburgers and a couple of their famous milkshakes before the cafe closed at 4pm. I had a 3C – Coffee, Chocolate, and Caramel and Heather had a combination of Raspberry and Chocolate. They lived up to the hype. We had a full day of hiking ahead of us before we started our journey home so we turned in early (a little extra early now that we were back on Pacific Standard Time instead of Mountain Time). Happy Trails!

Flickr: Pillars of Rome and Chalk Basin