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Colter - Desert Trail Journal - 2012

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City: Fairbanks
State: Alaska
Begins: Mar 1, 2012
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Sat, Jun 9th, 2012
Start: Burns
End: Malheur Cave Road
Trip Distance: 1,508.0

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 1,220
Journal Visits: 88,464
Guestbook Views: 7,489
Guestbook Entrys: 83

Gear list

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Malheur Cave

Ranch Country

Dave Green and Keith Sherer drove all the way from Madras to meet me in Burns at about 10:30 on June 8. They are officers in the Desert Trail Association and it was interesting talking to them over a good lunch. We talked about the history and future of the Trail and my hike. Then they were kind enough to drive me back to the trail where Dave showed me a small Desert Trail sign I had missed earlier.

Where I had left off walking while hitching we said our goodbyes. They have put a lot of work into this great trail. Thanks guys!

Later as I walked a lady named Mary from Tree Top Ranches stopped to talk to me. The ranch had given me permission to walk their road. She suggested I visit Malheur Cave, which I did.

This very long lava tube is owned by the Masonic Lodge. I took two of my LED lights and headed back in . It was hard to see until my eyes adjusted. I was surprised how large it was. It looked like someone had driven a pickup back there. A few hundred yards into the blackness were two big sets of bleachers with seating for at least 300 people. I continued on until the floor of the gently descending cave was flooded. Later I talked to Mary's son who was working along the road. He said he'd seen people head back in with rafts and National Geographic had sent divers way back in.

An hour later I walked through the extensive and green and shady ranch complex. Later I saw two ranch hands I'd met earlier. They were very curious about what I was up to. They were Peruvians who had permits to work on the ranch. They'd spend a month or two a year in Peru and then come back to Oregon. My Spanish and their English were of similar quality but they asked many of the standard questions: WHY? What did I eat? Where do I sleep? How far do I walk each day? They were a cheerful pair.

Near dark I found some tall sage to sleep in, but just as I was going to sleep some rain clouds rolled in and it started sprinkling. Reluctantly I got up to set up my shelter and tried in vain to find a stone to pound in my tent stakes, at the same time trying not to lose my tent in the dark. Regardless, it wasn't long before I was inside and asleep.

June 9: Walked past many working ranches today which was interesting. Some looked to be prospering, some perhaps struggling. Lots of irrigation. One place was cutting hay. Horses watched me pass. One trotted over for a treat and seemed disappointed when I didn't have one in my hand.

A nice little river ran through the valley. I saw a small round object move across the road and on close inspection it was a very tiny and fuzzy chukar chick. It's mother was clucking nearby.

At the Malheur River crossing some fishermen were camped and we talked fishing and hiking. In the evening I climbed a few hundred feet of gentle hillside and camped in a nice little gully. It had been about 26 miles of easy walking today.

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Entry 75 of 102
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