Walking Picture Gorge - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

April 13, 2020

Walking Picture Gorge

Home life

Our personal lives are all so utterly different under the Coronavirus reign of terror, in ways big and small.  I’m on my fourth book this month, which embarrassingly is more than I’ve tended to read in a normal year in recent years.  We’re on our third Masterpiece miniseries (the new series Press is fantastic, btw).  We’re actually preparing many of our own meals for the first time in years (but unfortunately didn’t magically somehow become competent at it in the meantime).

One significant change for me is that I’m getting nearly eight hours of sleep most nights.  I don’t know that that has happened for forty years or more - for decades I’ve gotten by on six hours or less, running a chronic sleep deficit.  I’m sure this is good for my health, probably especially while my leg is recovering.

Along with sleeping longer, I’m also dreaming much more, or at least recalling more of my dreams.  This morning I woke up to a scary situation when trying to get my lost wallet back from the train station and walked into the middle of a gang war complete with clubs and gaffs.  

Much more enjoyable was the one I woke up to earlier in the middle of the night, in which I found myself gymnastically entangled in a ménage a trios with a young, svelt Mary from the Peter, Paul and Mary folk trio, along with her twin sister.  I don’t remember many details, but there was a lot of swirling long blond hair in the picture.  It even came with a sound track from one of their later albums, that I awoke trying to remember all the lyrics to.  So that’s good.

Who let the dogs out?

It’s been over two weeks now since our dog attack.  Rachael’s fine, and I’m fine too except for this burn-like open wound that I’m told will still take another 5-7 weeks to heal.  I’ll probably still be treating and wrapping it when we return to Portland in June.

Some of you undoubtedly know of Emily Sharp, an intrepid cycle tourist who in the past posted her remarkable tours on an alternate website many of us are refugees from.  It’s been awhile since she’s taken a longer tour (and if/when she does again, I hope she’ll post it here); but in the meantime she’s been one of our regular contributors over on Cycle365 where she writes under her pseudonym, The Navigator.

I’m sorry to report that the normally sensible Navigator decided to follow Rocky’s and my bad example and have her own serious entanglement with a dog just a few days ago.  Her experience sounds even more harrowing than ours, and we wish her a rapid and full recovery.  You can see for yourself, in her post Because Everything Happens in 3’s.  A note to the squeamish though - she shows her wounds.  Viewer caution is advised.

Back to Picture gorge

Ever since we learned that Picture Gorge got its name from the petroglyphs on its walls, I’ve wanted to go back and walk through the gorge to see if any still remain.  Also, I want to go up to a nearby overlook of the Mascall Formation - we biked past its turnoff and wondered about it, and when I Googled it later the view looks fantastic.  We have to go.

It’s cold and windy again today, about like yesterday.  Hopping on the bike doesn’t sound appealing, but it’s clear and sunny - the perfect day to checkout the gorge by foot.  we hop in the Jetta and drive west to Dayville.  On the way out of Dayville we pull off on the shoulder to glare at the house where our attack occurred.  The yard is wide open - there’s no gate or fence to restrain animals.  Our nemesis doesn’t appear to be out, but there is a third dog in the yard that is larger, scarier looking, a real menace.  

Cycle Oregon, if it actually happens this fall, will bike right past this house.  Not good.

It’s not quite the scene I remembered. I thought the yard was more completely fenced, and I pictured one of those huge flags that covers half the side of the house.
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Ron SuchanekIt might be worth a follow up call to the sheriff, since the owner clearly hasn't taken any steps to prevent this from happening again. A threat of a lawsuit might get his attention, even if you don't intend to do it.
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3 months ago
Yikes! I’m glad this isn’t the guy that attacked me. He might have walked off with my knee.
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Jen GrumbyI can't "like" this photo.

This dog may be perfectly friendly, but if it behaves like its canine housemate, it could really do some damage.

That's bothersome that the yard is not fenced and I hope the sheriff follows up on this.

Cycle Oregon or not, there will be other cyclists that ride by.
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3 months ago

Just before reaching the mouth of Picture Gorge we pull off onto Antone Lane, an unpaved backroad that continues about twenty miles west before reconnecting to Route 26 east of Mitchell.  Our thinking was to drive up to the Mascall Formation overlook, park the car there, and walk along Antone Lane for four or five miles before turning back.  Or maybe along its spur that runs up Rattlesnake Creek.  From the satellite view, both look like they would make very scenic walks.

We can’t drive up to the overlook though.  This is part of the National Mounmentioned, and it’s barricaded due to the virus.  Instead, we park the car nearby on the shoulder of the road and walk around the sign a short ways to a faint path that skirts the side of the knoll.  It looks like it was an old Jeep track, or maybe even something that precedes the automobile era.

It is a fantastic walk.  Remarkable scenery, striking formations that I won’t try to describe.  We don’t see another human soul on our two hour walk, although we do see a mobile home in the distance off through the gap.  We see a few birds and butterflies, but mostly it feels pretty lifeless.  Unless you count the small herd of five mule deer that we startle into running away from us.  Or the other three we see later far off on the next ridge.  Or the smaller mammal that dashes into the bushes just ahead of us.

I don’t know how far you can go off in this direction, or if it’s even legitimate to be here.  I’m just a bit skittish that we’ll come on someone who thinks we shouldn’t be on his land.  And who brought his dog along as an enforcer.  Awesome hike though.

Looking east to the Aldrich Mountains from Antone Lane.
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Looking across the Mascall Formation. On the other side of the tuff-capped ridge is Picture Gorge, with its sheer basalt cliffs.
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The Mascall Formation
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The Mascall Formation
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An outstanding hike, on a cold day. Rachael is wearing a balaclava and doesn’t take her coat off the whole day.
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The Mascall Formation
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The Mascall Formation. The thin resistant layer capping the ridge opposite is Mascall Tuff.
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I thought these might be elk at first - they’re also common here - but the ears seem wrong. Must be Muleys.
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Lunch break on an old stump.
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Working our way back east. We’re hoping we can walk this way down to the highway, but not a hundred yards from it we come against a fence and an obviously occupied property. No choice but to backtrack.
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An awesome hike.
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Looking toward the entrance to Picture Gorge.
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Zoomed in on the gorge. This is really a great vantage point, up here by the Mascall Overlook.
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On the way back, the miscreant rebel Rocky decided to walk up to the barricaded overlook, seeing no one around and not feeling virus-threatened.  I chose to stay down by the highway and act as a decoy to divert any deputy sheriffs or park rangers who happen by.  None appeared, Rocky isn’t locked up in the county jail, all’s good.

A better explanation of what we’re seeing here than I could provide.
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Panorama from Mascall Formation Overlook
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We return to the car, and then drive down to the entrance of the gorge.  We park there and walk through the gorge up to the confluence with Rock Creek and the junction with the road north to Kimberly.  I’ve got my eye out for petroglyphs, but don’t really expect to see any.  Mostly I thought it would be a great walk along the base of these cliffs.

Surprisingly, I do spot a couple of figures, not long after I enter the gorge.  I’m sure they’re petroglyphs - they match photos I’ve seen.  All the way through the gorge I keep looking up at the cliffs, but never see another one.  I wonder if there’s some significance to one being at the mouth of the gorge?  Also though, the ones we saw are protected from above by an overhang.  I wonder if by now most of the others have just been eroded away, or possibly vandalized.

The walk itself is a bit of a disappointment, and not as interesting as I expected.  It was really better to have biked through it. Maybe because we’re seeing it for the second time so it’s not a fresh experience; or maybe it pales in comparison with the amazing hike earlier.

A pair of petroglyphs! I’m so excited to see any at all, and to see one as soon as we enter the gorge. The first, and the last.
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In Picture Gorge
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In Picture Gorge
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In Picture Gorge. I wonder what this transporter across the River is/was for. It’s such an odd location for it.
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Comment on this entry Comment 4
Jen GrumbyI'd never seen that 'Who Let the Dogs Out' video. Hilarious!!
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyMy reaction too. I’d never heard of it, and just knew it as an expression. Rocky steered me in its direction.
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3 months ago
Ron SuchanekYou might be the first person who ever dreamed of a 3-way with Mary Travers. At least it wasn't a 3 way with Ringo Starr's auntie and Meatloaf.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekOr the first to admit to it in public, perhaps. Verrry interesting; but stupid, as Arte Johnson might have said. And I’m not even that excited about blondes. Or threesomes, for that matter.
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3 months ago