Tag Archives: Oregon
The Owyhee River carves narrow canyons of sheer rhyolite and basalt walls hundreds of feet deep into the sagebrush and grassland high desert sprawling over southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon. An area four times the size of Yellowstone, it’s the loneliest corner of the Lower 48. It’s hard just to get there because of the few, bad roads. Check out the canyons of the Owyhee in this slideshow. Then read my story about our eight-day, 82-mile kayaking descent of the upper Owyhee River, where we saw just one other kayaker, on our last night, a couple miles before the takeout.
We reach a high saddle between two peaks, where the wind has sculpted the snow into stationary, perpetually cresting waves several feet high. Treeless slopes of clean, untracked powder fall away beneath us. Our group of several friends and a few guides have been climbing uphill in this remote corner of northeast Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains for more than two hours, ascending some 3,000 vertical feet under a clear, ice-blue winter sky, amid scenery that looks like a post card from an Alpine resort, but without the ski lifts and quaint villages. Continue reading →
I follow a short distance behind Geoff, our expert kayaker, as he weaves with deft turns around rocks in the East Fork of the Owyhee River. Sheer, 300-foot cliffs of black rock rise close on our right and left, amplifying the roar of whitewater. Although paddling vigorously, I shiver in my wetsuit, soaked from the 37° F downpour unleashed by a thunderstorm 20 minutes ago. It’s our third day on the river and our third day of cold rain and wind. Wet and shivering has become my default status.
Then Geoff cuts left around a boulder parting the swift waters like a hippo standing broadside to the current. I try to coax my inflatable kayak to mimic Geoff’s maneuver, but the river has other plans for me. An instant before the impact, I get an adrenaline rush with the realization that things are about to go very badly. Continue reading →
The sound barely registers inside the warm cocoon of my sleeping bag. It’s different—softer—than the anesthetic patter of rain that lulled me to sleep hours ago. Working slowly, like a cranky old PC, my brain powers up to identify the source: snow. In April. Continue reading →