Daily Miles: 18
Total Miles: 253
Last night was a rough night for sleep. While it rained on us for about 15 minutes, the real problem all night was the very strong winds. We had all camped in basically a dirt parking lot, so we were pretty exposed. The wind was so strong, we were afraid our stakes would come up and collapse the tent. Even just the sound of the 3 tents flapping was enough to keep us awake. Needless to say, we were not well rested when our alarms went off this morning.
It was quite cold and still a bit breezy when we started walking, so we all left with maximum layers on. Once we got moving, we started to feel warmer, but we still didn’t remove any layers.
Today was all about walking on roads. The first five miles were on dirt roads, and then we got to a paved state highway. It is definitely a quite area, as we only saw a few cars in the hour we were walking on the paved road before getting to Fields.
Fields has a very similar feel to Rome (our first trail town of the trip). The population of Fields is about 100, and seems to mostly just consist of the Fields Station plus a couple houses. We stopped there to get our resupply packages and to have a hot breakfast.
The food was really good and it was nice to be inside for awhile getting warm. The place was super busy with hunters coming through.
After breakfast, we went outside to the picnic tables and sorted out our food for the next four days.
After yesterday’s challenging hiking and dealing with the snow, SweetPea was concerned about heading into the Steens Mountains in this next stretch. She was uncomfortable with the cross country hiking in snow and was very slow in the worst section yesterday (think 1/2 mile in about an hour). From what we knew about the Steens, there was going to be more snow (there is around 10 miles over 7,000 feet, even going as high as 9,500 feet…and the Steens is known for being a big snow area). There is also “extreme bushwhacking with extreme elevation loss and gain” in this section, making things only sketchier.
So, SweetPea figured it wasn’t wise for her to continue on the route. Instead, we figured it would be best to look for another way to get to our next trail town of Frenchglen. Since our gear and food are now combined, it made sense for Beardoh to do whatever route SweetPea decided on. Qball and JJ decided to continue with the regular route, so we will see them in four days in Frenchglen.
As we looked at an alternate route, the only real option was to road walk to Frenchglen. We found a route that looked to go mostly on dirt roads through land designated as wilderness, but after talking with a local, we realized that most of the dirt roads were actually going through private property (ranch land). And we were told that those landowners are very strict about people getting permission to be on their land. After talking with her, we realized our only option was to walk the paved state highway for 50 miles to Frenchglen.
After hanging out at Fields Station for four hours, we headed off on our alternate. Luckily the state highway is very quiet, so at least we don’t have to deal with a lot of traffic. Walking so long on paved roads is pretty hard on our feet and bodies.
A highlight of the afternoon was seeing a large pack of coyotes probably 20 to 30 running along the toe of a bluff.
We walked ten miles in the afternoon before finding some BLM land next to the road where we are now camped. We decided not to put up our tent in order to be very stealthy.
We figure we have two more days of walking the road, but maybe we’ll get sick of road walking and decide to hitch at some point. We’ll have to see how it goes.