Mike meets plenty of cool people while he’s out and about delivering packages. Today we got to spend some time with one of Mike’s cool customers, and get the VIP tour of his shop and yard. Beyond a simple collection of beautiful old cars, this amazing location houses a variety and quantity of parts, rare tools, and random antiques. It was an awesome time, and I’m really glad we got to share it with some good friends.
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Spent a few hours this afternoon hiking to Steelhead Falls on the Deschutes River. This little falls isn’t really worth the mile hike, but the fantastic canyon, sandstone cliffs and golden eagles definitely make for a great excursion!
The old retaining wall and what looked to be a semi-natural fish ladder on the left of the photo above really intrigued us, so after returning home, I fired up my trusty Google search and found this great Bend Bulletin article from a few years ago Steelhead Falls.
Before Portland General Electric built the Pelton-Round Butte Dam complex downriver in 1959, slamming the door shut on anadromous fish, steelhead, spring chinook and sockeye salmon battled their way up and over the imposing falls each season. There’s a crude and battered rock wall on the near side of Steelhead Falls that once served as a fish ladder to help the returning fish over the hump. Built in 1922, the ladder offered the steelhead and salmon a boost during low water months, particularly after irrigators began taking more water out of the Deschutes in the 1930s.
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So, after nearly 4 years, we finally walked on land that we look at every day. Across the canyon from us is National Grasslands property, we’ve checked it out on Google Earth, followed the variety of dirt trails with our finger, and said we’d go explore someday.
Returning from a Wal-mart Saturday morning hell grocery run, this seemed like the perfect time.
We drove across the high bridge, then hung a left at the first dirt road. Wandering through the rocks and dust reminded me so much of the back-country exploration we did when we were younger and had more free time to waste.
As soon as the rocks got big enough to worry about tire damage, we stopped the truck and started hiking (pushpin #1 on the map above). At the rim we looked across and got a view of the house we’d never seen before – pretty cool!
The canyon rim on this side is lower, with fewer rocky shelves than we have on the south edge. The ground rolls and heaves, alternating from natural gravel, to ankle rolling boulders, to sandy washes. Hiking west, we found beautiful vistas full of the Three Sisters, Black Butte and Jefferson. The river does definitely earn its name here, going through a series of zig-zags that make no sense, but are really cool to look at.
After hiking about a half mile, we headed back to the truck, then down Hwy. 97 a few more miles north to another dirt road. We drove on dirt past many For Sale signs, coming to a stop at the base of a cell tower, and finding a forlorn sale sign on the edge of a piece of property (pushpin #2 on the map above). We walked the fenceline to the canyon rim, here we were looking towards Crooked River Ranch and the double rim of this part of the canyon. The second shelf of land here is home to a small ranch and farm which has views behind of a canyon wall going up, and views in front of a canyon dropping down, pretty neat!
A little further down, we spied the strangest rock formation. This blade of rock is completely separate from, and taller than, any of the surrounding rock. I have no idea how it was formed, but would love to have a geologist tell me its story.
Another jaunt north on 97, we turn on our last gravel road and first find a dead end at a broken-down canal bridge in front of an old homestead. We turn around and take a beat-up dirt road heading south-west, again towards the canyon rim. After driving a few miles, passing a carrot field (we grow carrots here?), the road dead ends at a very impressive gate. This arched monolith is something so beautiful and massive you’d expect to see a mansion behind it, and pavement underneath it (pushpin #3 on the map above). Instead there’s a little strip of gravel heading into the sage and scabland, and the ubiquitous For Sale sign propped listlessly beside the gate. Someone had big dreams here, but they’re gone now.
Through the gate, the gravel quickly peters out and we follow a very old dirt path which begins to drop below the canyon rim. Dust swirls around our shoes and I have to watch where I’m walking so I don’t trip over the big rocks littering this old road. Soon we round a corner and are in full view of Crooked River Ranch, Commercial Loop road – and Powroll! This is the dirt road I see from the front window at work. We’d always wondered where it went, and now I know!
It’s getting colder and dark, we’re hungry and ready for some dinner, so we head back to our side of this slice of high desert heaven. What a fun time exploring close to home!