Brian's Photo Blog — Article 27
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Deschutes River Photo Outing
Tuesday 27 September 2011   —   Category: Outings

Last week I went on another photographic outing — this time, by myself, to Oregon’s Deschutes River, east of the Cascades. I got up at 5:00 AM, left by 5:45, and about an hour later I was eating breakfast at McDonald’s in the town of Stayton. On my way back to the main road (which is at the stoplights you see in the photo to the right), the sun just started rising over the top of the road. I quickly pulled over, grabbed my camera, and got this shot of a car right at the top of the road in front of the sun, with another car coming down the hill (you can just see the headlights). A great start for a photo outing!

There is no great, direct way to get from where I live to where I was going. After traveling east for a while on Oregon Route 22 to Detroit Lake, I headed north on United States Forest Service Road 46. But before this road becomes Oregon Route 224, I naïvely took some crazy, one-lane logging roads over the eastern Cascades, down past Timothy Lake to join up with U.S. Route 26. After that experience, I think it’s probably best to stay off of logging roads!

After a brief jaunt south on Route 26, I turned east on Oregon Route 216 for the last leg of my trip out. Four-and-a-quarter hours after leaving home, I finally arrived at the village of Maupin, which clings to the western wall of the Deschutes River canyon. You can’t tell from the picture to the right, but the U.S. Route 197 entry to and exit from the town are quite steep. Apparently they found a relatively flat spot in between to lay out the town, which has a population of 400-something. You can see part of the Highway 197 bridge (on which I am standing to take this picture — see my shadow?) over the Deschutes along the right edge of the photo. This bridge is located at about river mile 51.6, giving you access to the small number of homes and businesses in East Maupin.

Like all other rivers in the United States, the distance along the Deschutes River from it’s mouth (at the Columbia River) is indicated in river miles. Maupin is located between river mile 51 and 52. For this outing, I started at Maupin and drove south along the riverside to river mile 59. Even though I hadn’t really planned on doing any serious hiking that day, I was at the end of the road, so I parked there, and started walking further south along the river. After trudging along for four-and-a-half miles in three-and-a-half hours (I stopped very frequently to take a LOT of photos!), I finally came to the point, around river mile 63.5, where I couldn’t go any further.

I had wanted to walk another 1.5 or so miles, past historical Frieda and to a tunnel, but I was running out of steam. My feet felt like raw hamburger, I was very hot, and my water was starting to run low. Totally worn out, at this point I decided to stop, cool my aching feet, and rest, then turn around and head back. My feet were so sore that I decided to soak them in the water for a while. When I got out, my feet were a rosy pink color due to the icy coldness of the water. It wasn’t until I got home that night that I realized that I had developed a large blister near the bottom of my left heel.

Later I found an interesting account of someone who parked his truck in the same spot that I did, and initially made the same hike that I had just done, but he went about three times further than I did, all the way to North Junction (Davidson) around river mile 73 (about a 14-mile hike)! Don’t miss George’s detailed account of his journey.

During my drive and walk south along the river earlier in the day, I had been passed by various workers driving further south. After walking back for a couple of hours, I was so exhausted, and my feet hurt so much that, knowing these workers needed to go home by the same road, I was praying that God would send one sooner than later to give me a ride. I still had another mile-and-a-half to go to reach my truck.

I walked about another half mile when I heard the sound of a vehicle approaching from behind me. So I stopped and put out my thumb — the FIRST time in my life! The guy stopped, and agreed to give me a ride to my truck. I had already walked nearly eight miles that day, so I suppose cutting out the last mile was really no big deal, but for me it was a real lifesaver! I was SO grateful! Once I got back to my truck, I took off my boots, gobbled down some cookies, dranks some cold water and a coke, and sat in my truck with the air conditioner on, trying to recover, before continuing my journey!

Once I finally made it back to Maupin, I started again at river mile 51, but headed north this time, driving along the Deschutes to river mile 43.5 before heading away from the canyon. So, in total, I explored about 20 miles of the Deschutes River — and took lots of photos each step of the way!

After driving as far north along the Deschutes as I was going to that day, I crossed the river at Sherars Bridge. When I stopped to take some pictures of Sherars Falls, I noticed some wooden platforms along one bank of the river. In my ignorance, I thought to myself, “Oh, isn’t that thoughtful ... they've put up platforms to help the photographers get good shots!” But as I looked closer, I was embarrased to realize how wrong I was! They are actually built and used by Native Americans, fishing for salmon with dip nets as they have for thousands of years. Although not physically connected to the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation further south, the fishing area around Sherars Bridge also belongs to the Native Americans.

I continued on to White River Falls, located about two miles upstream from where the White River empties into the Deschutes River. It was probably the worst time of the day to photograph these falls, because I was shooting almost directly into the setting sun. I really need to come back here first thing in the morning one day. The falls are located a short drive east of Tygh Valley, off Oregon Route 216.

By this time it was nearly 6:00 PM, and I still had a LONG ways to go before home. I drove quite a ways on backroads to Mount Hood to have dinner. This photo to the right was taken at sunset, about six miles south of the iconic mountain. I arrived at the Ice Axe Grill in Government Camp (that’s a village, not a prison!), at the southern foot of the highest peak in Oregon.

After winding my way to Interstate 5 via U.S. Route 26, Oregon Route 211, Oregon Route 224, and Interstate 205, I finally arrived back home around 10:00 PM. What a day! I got some great photos — 310 in all. I've narrowed them down to the 84 best, which you can view in the Deschutes River 2011 photo album.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 27
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