Sunday, May 25, 2014

Day 2 - Back in Oregon. Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge

Todays Miles - 135

Total Miles - 360

Departed - Likely, CA

Arrived - Hot Springs Campground, Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge

Note we are already days behind in posts as we had no internet at Hart Mountain. We dumped waste, filled water tanks and prepared for next phase.  

Out the campsite early, we headed north to Lakeview, Oregon. 
 Hurray, back in Oregon. Feels good.
Looking out north onto Lakeview area
We stopped in Lakeview for refuel (regular was $3.95, $0.25 cheaper than Alturas).  We also made some phone calls (yeah cell service) and ate brunch.
East on highway to Plush, Oregon
 The Oregon high desert is really pretty amazing.  4,000-7,000 ft with mountains over 8,000 feet they pale in comparison to the Rockies and Sierras.  
However, the vista's are amazingly beautiful.  Simply your basic wide open spaces. We look out on the Hart mountains in the distance.  Geologically it is a fault block where one edge, in this case the western edge, raises up and the other side is very gradual.  We have seen quite a few in the west.

 Lots of sagebrush and open road.  No antelopes yet though
 We drive past ranches and farms, admiring the space and quiet it represents.
 Home, Home on the Range!  Where the deer and the antelope play.
 We stop to check out an old Civilian Conservation Corps campground.  Nice shape but find a map and discover there is a hot springs campground up on the top of the mountain north of the Park HQ.
 Up we go on the gravel road which just has been paved.  Later we hear there are some big horn sheep in area which we missed seeing. Next time.
 We get to the top at HQ, stop to get our bearings and disconnec Mr. Toad.  Seems best idea to first dust off the jeep before we disconnect. Another visitor remarks that it seems a lost cause due to the remaing 50 miles of gravel road but we mainly do it to keep it off ourselves.
 No rangers around to ask questions so we consult the map and drive 4 miles south from HQ over a hill into a lovely little valley lined with Aspens.  Sraddha, in the jeep, scouts out possible campsites amongst all available.  Very primitive, yet beautiful.  We find a camp host site with no camp host and I drive over the little creek through Aspen forest.
 We set up camp at the host site.  No water or electrical in campground.  Just pit toilets but my, oh my, what a lovely spot, except for one thing.
 The one thing turns out to be mosquitoes.  We had hoped to sit ouside in the evening but decided not to.  Nevertheless we had a wonderful time.
Hot Springs Campsite.
One great benefit, other than stunning beauty, was the hot springs.  After setting up camp we drove over and jumped in.  Visited with some fun young people who told us about the meteor shower Friday night.
 It was refreshing but not too hot.  I tried the nearby stream to cool off. 
Looking out from our campsite.
 We were tempted to stay another night and watch the meteor shower, then get to Malheur late but we had made a date with our friends, Turtle and Hawk for Saturday morning birding, so we headed out Friday morning.  Glad we did.  Turned out the rain and clouds prevented the viewing of the shower.  But that is another story......

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