Touring through Central Oregon

 

 

We took 3 days to drive south from Portland to Lakeview, stopping at various geographic points of interest.  On a Saturday night we stayed in a fire lookout on Drake Peak, a rolling 8000 foot hilltop with epic views of the surrounding terrain.  The peak is part of the Warner Mountains that thread between the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades, straddling the California/Oregon border.  We got a beautiful calm evening, and the haze from forest fires in northern California had blown out just in time to give us a clear view.  I appreciate the building for the way its idiosyncratic appearance is driven by its function. which has both a dimension of the banal and the sublime.  I imagine being posted in a lookout gets pretty boring, but on the other hand what could be better than being charged with the supervision of an epic landscape.  A single room that looks out in every direction.  The isolation eliminates the need for walls (although we were reminded that the lookout is a public place when a random visitor showed up as I made the morning coffee in a bleary-eyed stupor).  The 360° glazing gets the building out of the way at eye level, connecting the occupant with the horizon from the inside or outside.  The horizon carries literal and figurative connections to human reach, limits, temporal rhythms and, obviously, gorgeous atmospheric light conditions.  This is a place given over to the horizon at its most expansive. You definitely feel something watching  day end up there.

 

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We spent our first night at the edge of the Deschutes National Forest, 45 minutes outside of La Pine.  As we proceeded south out of the pines the area opened up into a sea of high desert scrub.  We explored the network of gravel backroads, traveling from one geographic anomaly to another.

 

edge of forest

 

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Fort Rock has been on my list for a long time.  Its a large weathered volcanic caldera sitting in the middle of a broad basin.  It took about an hour to hike around the rim.  About an hour to the southeast we visited a site called “Crack in the Ground” which delivered on expectations, as it was quite an impressive crack running a considerable distance through a rocky juniper forest.  The depth of the crack runs from 30 to 70 feet in places, creating palpable microclimates as one hikes along.  Plenty of precarious boulders are fodder for dread speculation as to what might happen should you be passing through at the wrong geological moment.

 

crack

 

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