South Steens Campground: 42.65°N, 118.72°W
-$6 per vehicle/day
-Clean vault toilets
-Hub for mountain biking and hiking in the area
Alvord Desert: 42.53°N, 118.46°W
-Free BLM land (as long as you stay off the small sections of private land)
-12 by 7 mile dry lake bed
-No potable water
-Unofficial world land speed record set by Kitty O’Neil in 1976 – 512 miles/hour
-Hub for land sailing, camping and hot springs
~The date is June 20th 2016~
As a child of the 90s, it sounds quite sci-fi saying that. Are we in the future yet? Another year gone by, a bit more aware but still just as crazy…28 will be a good age; I can feel it.
To start this year off right, I shall go to the desert!
6 hours later, I am being eaten alive by mosquitoes while filling the tank at a single pump gas station in Frenchglen, Oregon. Steens Mountain looms up a head with the Alvord Desert hidden beyond. With the threat of running out of gas behind us, Lisa took the wheel and turned down the famous Steens Mountain loop road.
Gravel and dust kicked up all around us as we headed towards our home for the night – South Steens Campground. At $6/vehicle, it is quite reasonable on the dirtbag scale of lodging. That night, we feasted on spicy, pan fried beef sausages and blackberries while continuing to binge listen to The Dirtbag Diaries and The Joe Rogan Podcast. I think I’ve made Lisa a fan of both.
I awoke early, as is the norm sleeping in the wild. How refreshing to sleep outside even though I forgot my sleeping pad and pillow. The nylon of the tent was my bed while an old fleece blanket became my pillow.
The hike today? Big Indian Gorge
4 miles through what Lisa insisted to be rattlesnake infested grass and rocks. No snakes on this trip, just tons of butterflies and the ever present burning sun.
The little town of Fields provided more gas from the single pump and more sausages for the pan. The general store is a hub of excitement in the area with gas, burgers, milkshakes, beer, and an adjoining motel. It’s the place to be. There’s so many funny little towns in the West. They all have an air of survival and simplicity.
2 hours later, home becomes the Alvord Desert. It resembles something seen on an exotic nature documentary. Cracked, blistered sand…hard as a rock and flat as a sheet of paper. The sun set above Steens Mountain and the moon reflected off the desert making it shimmer as if it were a flat body of water. I walked across the dry lake bed and took it all in. All my confusion became clear, if only for a moment.