Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Glass Butte

In 2010 I heard about Glass Butte, a mountain of vari-colored obsidian, where collecting was permitted.  I searched for it, without success.

About a week ago, I left Eugene, headed for Steens Mountain.  On the way, I stopped at a BLM campground, the Chickahominy Reservoir Recreation Area.  I was talking with the campground host and noticed some pieces of obsidian.  She confirmed that they were from Glass Butte.

"Where is it," I asked?

She pointed.  "Right there.  Only 17 miles away."

I got directions, signed up for a week, and went exploring.  The results were quite rewarding.

This is Oregon's high desert area, and the skies can be delightful.

So I collected obsidian, but what I really wanted was to hike to the top of Little Glass Butte.  After a few exploratory wanderings, I set out today to meet that goal.  The way up was steep, with no trails, but the views were worth it.

I made it to the top, where there was a small cairn of stones.

The skies were giving me a really fine cloud show.

Descending, I followed a different route, always exploring.  It became quite challenging in places.  I had to work my way around cliffs and outcrops.

The way sometimes led across slopes of volcanic rocks that shifted and slid underfoot.

Somewhere, along that challenging descent, my rock hammer was pulled out of the loop on my pants where I had been carrying it.

The mountain giveth, and the mountain taketh away...

I figure it is a fair trade.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Are there bears in the woods?

You betchum, Red Ryder.  But - just how many?

If you ask today, the most accurate answer is "A lot".  In the near future, that answer will be much more precise.  The state Fish and Game Commission is setting out bear bait - balls of bacon swabbed with bacon fat, placed securely 10 feet up on tree trunks.

They come back in a few weeks to see if a bear has taken the bait.  Marks on the tree from claws will let them distinguish between birds, raccoon, squirrels, cougar and bears taking the bait.  The bait is laced with tetracycline, which will leave a distinctive ring on a bear's tooth.  If a hunter kills a bear, or if one is killed by other means (vehicle accident, law enforcement, animal control) the tooth is to be extracted and sent to the Fish and Game Commission.

In a given area, there will be a known number of bears that take the laced bait.  In that same area, a random sample of bears is obtained by the tooth collection.  From that, the percentage of bears with a tetracycline ring is determined.  Once you know how many bears took the bait, and have a good sampling of the percentage of bears with the tetracycline ring, simple math tells just how many bears there are.  Example - say there are 70 bears that took the bait, and 10 percent of the teeth have the tetracycline ring.  That equates to 700 bears in that area.  Pretty cool way to establish the bear population, huh?

How do I know this?  I spoke with a pair of Fish and Game folks who were setting out bait.  The bait below is about 200 yards from where I am camped.

Oh - they also said there are a lot of cougars in the area.  I am now carrying my bear spray on hikes again.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Proxy Falls

It starts as a walk in the woods.  Not woods familiar to many of us - this is old growth forest on a lava field.

The trail takes you to an overlook with a break in the trees, allowing Proxy Falls to be seen.  (Apologies are in order.  These were shot straight into the sun.  I had three options - move the sun to the north instead of the south, turn the mountain to the south, or work with photoshop to try to cut out the sun glare.  Guess which I chose.)

First, the falls.

The sparkle at the top was like watching diamonds.

Now, frame the falls with the forest around them.

The base of the falls was hard to get to, but rewarding.

Well worth the effort, I think.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

… At The End Of The Road

Exploring sometimes pays off.  A friend told me of a boon docking site near the McKenzie River.  I stayed there for a night, then took my car for a walk up the forest service road by that site.  I found a jewel.

The road in is narrow and steep and, at times, tucked under tree branches.

At the end of the road, I found a clearing that fits Enterprise quite nicely.

The view is remarkable.  Last week I did my best to show the central Cascades to Alice and Andy.  Well, all within 50 yards of Enterprise I bring you:

Mount Jefferson and Three Finger Jack, to the north

Mount Washington to the northeast

and The Three Sisters to the east

For the botanists out there, can anyone tell me what this is?  These 3" diameter lacy flowers are scattered around at the base of the pines, all around my site.

Finally, the rhodies are blooming.  These rhododendron line the road in places up here.

Sweet site…