Early morning light streams into our room at the Frenchglen Hotel. We slept through the lunar eclipse, but I don’t miss the sunrise on the front porch. I am not however, motivated enough to head back to the top of Steens.
Unfortunately, that tends to be a theme. I know that my best shots are going to be between 6-8, both AM and PM, but I’m usually working, sleeping or eating in those hours. I need discipline folks.
But I digress. We sacrifice the rest of the morning’s good light to eat the home cooking at the Hotel, which is almost worth it. After that we head for Steens’ summit. It is about a mile hike from the parking lot, making it one of the easiest of Oregon’s tall peaks to bag. But we still suck wind on the way up at 10,000 feet.
We catch great views of Wildhorse Lake and some bighorns on the East Rim. They are almost invisible, even in the binocs. An orange tag in one of the sheep’s ears is the giveaway.
At this point, the week is wide open. We’re done with Steens. I REALLY want to get to Hart Mountain refuge, but it’s over 60 miles from Frechglen on a rutted, dusty road and one of my engine lights is on (fuzzed out oxygen sensor).
Instead we head north, to Burns and eventually Baker City. We hit some low level Oregon State Parks roadside stops — including the Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum (You get nothing w/out the tour, and the hour tour is 45 minutes too long) and the Sumpter Dredge, which makes an interesting photo op. We also stop by the “ghost town” of Granite, Oregon — which is more like a tourist twilight zone.
We end the night at Barley Brown’s Brew Pub in Baker City, Oregon — highly recommended.