With the slightest hints of fall in the air, Cate and I readied to hit the road again for a much anticipated trip around Eastern Oregon and Western Idaho.
This journey had been on the back burner for a while, with us slowly adding the ingredients….the normal round of repairs had to be made on our forty-three year old Airstream in order to get her ready for the bumps and bruises she was likely to encounter on our sometimes off-the-beaten paths. Cate tirelessly researched camping options and routes, and I tended to our camper and our trusty tow vehicle which needed new shocks, and some TLC as well…. but finally we were able to turn the heat up on this trip!
As usual, we got off to a later than anticipated start, but with Grants Pass in the rearview we set our sights for Hart Mountain Antelope Preserve’s hot springs campground. We moved through medford, cruised around Klamath Falls, and after a quick stop in Lakeview for supplies soon found ourselves just past the town of Plush and at the Base of Hart Mountain.
This area could be considered desert, but one wouldn’t know it, as far as the eye could see were were beautiful lakes in interesting shapes. The sun was starting to set, and we had hoped the hot springs campground would have a cliffside sunset view, so we drove across the heavily washboarded roads perhaps a bit to hastily (did we mention, heavily washboarded roads?). Alas, there was no cliffside view, but it was a gorgeous meadow surrounded by large grassy hills. We settled on one of the dispersed sites tucked into the corner of a stand of trees and next to a tiny little gurgling stream.
Cate slowly opened the door of the camper with the usual sense of dread after such a bumpy ride. To say things were amiss might be an understatement. The fuel line for the generator we keep for emergencies and AC, had ruptured and was leaking gasoline all over the camper floor. We sprang into action, disconnecting anything that would cause a spark & opening windows. We moved the genny far from the camper, and began soaking up the fuel as fast as we could with anything we could find. With the crisis averted, but the gas fumes heavy, it was decided that, cooking on our stove *may* not be the most prudent choice. Therefore cold sandwiches would be dinner. Afterwards we unscrambled the rest of the camper, and unrolled some bedding on the grass and lay back to watch the milky way roll over us, spy the numerous satellites, and count the shooting stars. It is always such a delight to be in true dark sky areas!
In the morning, we hit up the two hot spring pools. The first was surrounded by a rock & wall lined with wooden benches. A pool ladder hung into the original rocky earthen spring. The warmer “primitive” pool was about 25 yards down a trail, surrounded by grass, with a sandy bottom. Although there were a number of campers at the dispersed sites, we had both pools to ourselves.
Post soak, we packed up and started back across the “savannah”, passing herds of pronghorns while Frankie stared wide-eyed out the window. We rattled along the long washboard road down Hart Mtn., albeit much slower this time.
On the descent we stopped at a small interpretive trail at Hart Mountain overlook. While not a true hike, this trail offered stunning panoramic views of lake county with its vast network of lakes. Along the way were signs explaining the area’s unusual geography, and the variety of it’s abundant wildlife. Vowing to return and explore more of this region, we picked up the highway, and rolled on towards the Alvord Desert.