Washboard wanderings

South Steens Loop is washboard. Miles of washboard. Faster speeds smooth it out.

We saw 39 of the South Steens horses today!

The first group was less than a mile from the turnoff onto South Steens Loop.

Watching us warily
This group crossed the road in front of us. Seven horses, including cremellos.

Crossing the Blitzen River moved us out of horse country

The scenery is gorgeous and changes dramatically around every turn. Amazing.

The Riddle Brothers built their ranch in the most beautiful valley ever

Just before the South Steens Campground is the turnoff to the Riddle Brothers Ranch. If you’re ever in the area, take this turn. You can drive to the gate every day and beyond it to the ranch house Wednesday through Sunday. It was Tuesday, so we walked in to the spectacularly beautiful valley. A gap in the Steens frames the backside. A stream runs through it. Gorgeous.

One of the informational signs on the gate included a picture of the Riddle Brothers and some guests. How did anyone even know where they were? How did they get here to visit? I think it would take several days on horses. This beautiful spot is remote, remote, remote.

Gorgeous gorges


So MUCH wind at the summit. I kept trying to unlock my door, then realized it was unlocked. The wind was holding it closed.

We decided not to get out of the car. The walk to the actual summit will have to wait for a return trip. I could not even imagine being on the brink of the escarpment in that wind.

What a Wonderful World

We’ve been singing “What a Wonderful World” every evening since March 29. It’s my way of reassuring myself amidst the pandemic. We always sing outdoors, usually from our front porch (sometimes our neighbors come out to wave). This is day 198.

The last couple nights, I’ve walked down to the river and sang solo to the dark. Tonight Bill joined me and our singing spot was near the campfire.

It is truly a WONDERFUL WORLD!

In search of wild horses

Sun on rimrock, mild temperature, and wind. Perfect day to head out in search of wild horses

We had to pause for a couple of cows crossing the highway and a bit further on for a bevy of quail. In a roadside field a cowboy on horseback was moving some cows toward a trailer. Harney County.

The BLM office in Hines was closed. Columbus Day. I forgot that our federal government still celebrates the beginning of the massacre of this continent’s indigenous peoples…and I can’t buy the map I want.

The BLM wild horse corrals just to the west were open. Horses eat every day. There’s always controversy around managing wild horse and burro populations.  It’s worth cruising the web to find out about. They did have a (small) paper map and a helpful guy. Palomino Butte here we come.

Hang a left at Double 00 Ranch road and start looking. Not far in we saw a single horse on one side,  then a group on the other. Seems too easy.

Nice country,  but no more horses. We had no idea how long the road was or where it would pop us out. Enough.  Enjoyed the same group on the way out.

The BLM guy cautioned against Kiger and Riddle Mountain–bad roads. I wanted to find a Kiger Mustang. We headed toward Diamond taking the route through Malheur.

Hey! The other end of Double 00 road is just before Sodhouse Lane and the turn to Malheur Headquarters.

The headquarters were closed (did I mention Columbus Day),  but the lovely bathrooms were open. Canada Geese and wigeons were on the pond.  Well worth the stop.

We took the Happy Valley route and found Kiger Wild Horse Viewing Road. Even if there are no horses, wow!

Juniper skeleton

The road skirts the end of a rimrock box canyon. Just a short jaunt from the car, basalt pillars, rusty wire, and the spine of some largish mammal, one pillar separated from the rest. Right out of Zane Grey. As we approached some very large crows exited the canyon straight up. Too cool.

Freya got a little test. The road was dirt, stone, and ruts. Wouldn’t have been too bad if someone hadn’t driven it when the mud was a foot deep. Freya did well.

And…we found horses!

and pronghorn. I love pronghorn.

About 7 miles in we headed back out. Back past the hunting camp, the bluebirds, the beautiful Juniper, and the sage. Back over the ruts, rocks, and washouts. Wish I knew how far to the overlook. Wish I was certain we took the correct tine of each fork. (My map didn’t show any forks or distances.)

Stars, planets, shooting stars. Pretty perfect.