Friday, May 25, 2018
Greg and I had a four-day weekend for Memorial Day and spent it in eastern Oregon. Thursday night we drove as far as Prineville and stayed in a hotel, then continued east Friday morning. We were staying at Unity Lake State Park, but we first went south, taking Highway 20 towards Burns, then turning north into the forest at the little “town” of Riley. Then we drove 30 miles up to Dry Mountain.
The tower is 70′ feet tall. Both it and the ground cabin were built in 1932. It’s located in a section of the Ochoco National Forest that is actually detached from the rest of the ONF. Because it’s closer to the Malheur National Forest, it falls under that forest’s administration. Here is what the site looked like back in the day:
There were wildflowers blooming up there, which was great:
We saw this strange circle of white rocks. Maybe this was a rudimentary helipad at one point? Right now there are some trees pretty close to the circle so I’m not sure a helicopter could safely land:
I climbed up a pile of big boulders to get some views. Looking south:
Looking west back towards the lookout:
I could hear bald eagles and then I saw them. I bet they have a nest somewhere up here:
Greg was totally absorbed in the wildflowers:
I was surprised to find the outhouse still intact:
The stairs were not blocked off so I went up a few flights:
Looking east to Bald Butte, our next destination:
I only went about halfway up, not sure how stable the stairs were:
The back window of the cabin was broken and I could see inside. The place was in pretty bad shape:
After lingering for a long time on Dry Mountain we headed over to Bald Butte. A short spur road heads up to the lookout from Road 41. The road is just dirt and I wouldn’t want to drive it in wet conditions.
A fallen tree stopped us about half a mile up, so we parked and walked.
Little did we know that this was the first of A LOT of arnica we would see this weekend:
The lookout hasn’t been used in awhile and is in bad shape:
Pieces of the lookout were scattered on the slop below:
The Forest Service has put a fence around the base to keep people from going up, but they just cut ahole in teh fence:
We saw this strange pit. Old outhouse site? Seems strange that they didn’t fill it in.
We stopped at the Pine Springs Overlook where interpretive signs describe the 75,000 acre Pine Springs Fire, ignited by lightning on August 6, 1990.
From there it was a beautiful drive north on Road 47, and then we turned off to head up Sugarloaf Mountain. There’s a gate about 0.6 miles down from the lookout and right as we arrived we were hit by quite a hailstorm. The hail was HUGE and it sounded like rocks hitting the car. It passed
Then we got out and started walking:
This is the last we’d see of the sun for awhile:
Nice spot for a picnic:
The weather was deteriorating fast so we headed back to the car. We had wanted to visit the West Myrtle lookout as well, and it was only a mile off Road 37. So close! But we started driving the spur road and found it to be in rough shape. I would have kept going if it had been dry, but with the pouring rain the road was too wet and treacherous, so we headed to Unity Lake State Park where we had booked a cabin for the next three nights. The wind was raging when we got there and it howled all night long.