The Secret Places of Oregon

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Real exploration in the high desert of Oregon

An intrepid group of seven girls and two boys spent three days exploring deep inside some of the most remote parts of the state. The drive from Portland took us over Mt. Hood and into Bend.  Further south past La Pine we angled east on Highway 31.  Our first stop was at Hole in the Ground.  We observed the geology of the area, as we did at many of the other sites during the trip.  The crater was bigger than anyone expected.  Some say it is a meteorite crater, but most of the geologists belive it was created by a catastrophic volcanic explosion.  

The next stop was at Fort Rock, AKA Dutch Baby, where we walked up into the crater of the extinct volcano.  The erosion from the waves was evident.    Back in the town of Fort Rock we went to the local museum, which had wonderful outdoor exhibits of genuine homestead houses, churches and places of business.  In the school house we saw that in 1886 the punishment for being late to class was five lashes.

Using supoerior map reading skills we travelled east on some good roads that eventually brought us to the Lost Forest.  We could tell that the dune buggy crowd would soon be occupying the area and the designated sites, so we opted for a camping area at the far eastern end of the forest.  Though this was a designated camping area, the roads were rough and the van had to be driven very carefully.  Our camping area was at the base of some very distinctive rocks- filled with huecos.  Could be a potential climbing area.  

Saturday morning we were up early- about 6:30 am.  We wanted to get over to see the sand dunes before the dune buggies came out.  We largely succeeded and entertained ourselves with rolling down the hills and long distance jumping contests.  From here we drove over to the Fossil Lake area.  We parked the rigs near the gate at the north entrance and walked the old lake bed for about three hours.  Each student found at least a dozen Pleistocene era fossils during their searching.  The day was beautiful.  We drove south to the town of Christmas Valley and had lunch at the golf course.  The rest of the afternoon was spent playing Ultimate Frisbee and golf.  We split into three groups and played a best ball match.  The kids really liked it- even those who had never golfed before.  

The next morning our start was a bit more leisurely.  We were out of camp about 8:30 and made our way via the complex desert road system to Crack in the Ground.  It is quite an attraction and its depths are easily traversed.  We spent a fair amount of time investigating the rock climbing possibilities and decided that next year we should in fact set up some climbs.  The rock is good basalt and the anchors could be juniper trees.

From here we headed north and stopped at the Green Mountain Lookout- a new lookout.  The drive back was long but the conversation was good.  We were in the Catlin parking lot about 5:30 pm.