Day 16 – 15 Miles (255 miles)

Morning comes so early in June. The sky starts to lighten around 4:30-4:45, and the birds start chirping…life starts moving around, so that by 5:30 or so when the sun actually rises it day feels like it’s well on its way.

I woke for my last morning in the sagebrush (on this section anyway), made my coffee, ate the last of the gronola, and was hiking just after 6am. I would keep to roads the whole way. A dirt road took me at the base of Hart mountain and east side of Hart Lake. I knew there would be pictographs today, so when I started seeing large boulders that had fallen from the rimrock above, I started to look. They were everywhere! Many of the rocks had drawings, this must have been a popular route back in the day. Again, I want to do more reading about the area, learn about the native Americans who lived here, and about the first homesteaders.

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The bugs were really thick along the lake. I didn’t stop for any breaks because to do so would be to surrender to them.

I passed several springs… the springs usually have big cottonwoods, so you can see them miles away, and they are usually the location of the old homesteads. So much history.

By the time I made it to the pavement (9 more miles to town), my feet wanted me to take a break, but again the bugs! A couple of guys were unloading ATVS to go explore some of the old military road. Again…want to know more about this old military road.

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I was walking on the road when a pickup pulls up and asked if I was ok, “yep, just hiking the Oregon Desert Trail,” i responded. Jesse is a local rancher who has actually been following my hike, and knew who I was! We chatted there on the side of the road for a while, I learned his family had been one of the first homesteading families out here, and they used to run cattle in Orejana Canyon where I had been a few days before. I was glad to meet him and hear a bit about his background. My hope is that I can get to know a lot of the ranchers and families along the trail. Ranching and conservationists haven’t always gotten along in eastern oregon, but perhaps the trail is an opportunity to find common ground: a love of the land.

I continued on the road, and when I was about 2 miles out another truck pulled over to see if I was ok. Neil Taylor was another rancher in the area, and when he asked if I wanted I ride, I decided to take him up on the offer. Even though he was going the other way, Neil turned around and deposited me at the Hart Mountain Store. Thanks!! I’m continually thankful for the generosity of the people I’ve met out here.

I went into the store and Dave, the owner fixed me up a double bacon cheeseburger with fries. Oh heaven!

I hung out at the store for a few hours, pulled a book off the shelf (a lot of the little towns have a book exchange area) and sat on the porch reading until check in time at the Hart Mountain Cabin down the road. A few hours later Allen, who owns the cabin with his wife Barbara, came to the store and let me know I could head over. He had tried to call, but there is no reception in town. So a bought a few more goodies at the store and headed over to the cabin.

Oh beautiful little cabin!!

I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up, soaking feet in Epson salts, reading the book I picked up, and watching a movie. Kirk pulled in about 9pm bringing lots of birthday goodies….but he was the best present.

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