Monday, June 25, 2007

DeGarmo Canyon

Waterfall, DeGarmo Canyon

Some pics from DeGarmo Canyon [map], wayyy out in SE Oregon, in the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. I've decided to bail on covering my mini-roadtrip in chronological order. Instead I'll start with places with the most manageable number of pics to choose from. Otherwise it'll take freakin' forever to get any posts at all out the door.

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Eastern Oregon is basin and range country, full of steep fault block mountains and low, often marshy valleys in between. Hart Mountain is one of the more impressive of these mountains, rising sharply above the adjacent Warner Valley. At first glance it looks like a solid, impenetrable wall of rock, 2000 feet high and many miles long. A closer look shows a few narrow canyons cutting into the mountain. DeGarmo Canyon is one of these, with a small stream flowing through it, and even a couple of hidden waterfalls, which is what prompted me to visit.

I'm not the most rugged, outdoorsy type in the world, so if you'd like to read more "professional" accounts about the place, try here or here. On the other hand, this post has better photos, or at least more photos. You can find someone else's DeGarmo Canyon photos here

Here's the canyon from the main road, with a tiny sign, and a road leading to a small parking area at the trailhead. This road can be charitably described as "unimproved". If you aren't driving a 4WD, high clearance vehicle, you might prefer to park on the main road and walk the extra 0.5 mile. I'm one of the few remaining Portlanders who doesn't own a gigantic SUV, so the road was, um, an interesting challenge.

Entrance to DeGarmo Canyon

The first waterfall is right near the trailhead. It isn't the main event, only about 10ft tall, and you don't get that good of a view of it anyway. This is the best pic I've got, and I'm sure you'll agree it isn't very good:

DeGarmo Canyon #1

It was at about this point where I realized I'd brought the wrong sunblock along, i.e. the one without DEET. As a hardcore urbanite, one forgets that where there's water, there are often mosquitoes, even in the middle of the desert. And yet I continued along the trail. It probably wasn't the smartest choice, but I can be pretty stubborn when I need to be. I came here to see the waterfall, dammit.

A couple of shots from in the canyon, looking west/downstream and out toward the Warner Wetlands:

DeGarmo Canyon #2

DeGarmo Canyon #11

Looking east/upstream. You can sort of make out the main waterfall in the distance, although it's a bit lost in the glare:

DeGarmo Canyon #3

More pics of canyon walls:

DeGarmo Canyon #9

Lichens, DeGarmo Canyon

After a short hike, you'll get to the waterfall. It's just a couple of miles roundtrip, but it's a bit steep in parts, there isn't much shade, and you're at nearly a mile altitude even at the base of the thing. Oh, and since you're east of the Cascades, watch for rattlesnakes. I think I saw one in the canyon, although it slithered away before I could get a good look at it.

The trail continues up the canyon for quite a few miles past this point, but I came here for the waterfall, and it was just the first item on a long TODO list for the day, so I turned around here. Also, I was still getting eaten alive by extremely large mosquitoes. And yet I still had the presence of mind to shoot the waterfall from a couple of different angles and tinker with the exposure settings. I'd just like to point out --yet again -- that I really go to the mat for you guys, o Gentle Reader(s). If I come down with West Nile out of this, you'll owe me big time. Ok, I'd probably get an interesting post or two out of it if I caught West Nile, so I guess it wouldn't be all bad, I suppose...

Waterfall, DeGarmo Canyon

DeGarmo Canyon #6

Waterfall, DeGarmo Canyon

Waterfall, DeGarmo Canyon

1 comment :

nolocontendere said...

Good stuff, friend - wife and I are going through there in a couple of weeks and I appreciate the tips.

I've got a question though - how is the Plush to Frenchglen road for pulling a trailer? 4 wheeler pulling a 19' Airstream, both high clearance, but are there any tight switchbacks at Hart Mountain?