After the awesome dinner show, it was time for some hot coffee and journal notes. Post sunset was nice and warm, but cool enough to send the little buggars packing for the day. The wet spring has treated the insectoid realms well. I was so enveloped with attempting to record every detail that it was early the next morning by the time I looked up. But, when I did, I remember thinking that this must be where the term “blanket of stars” comes from. The fierce moonlight only slightly dimmed overall visibility of the start-filled sky once the nearly full glowing orb decided to make an appearance. The spectacle laid out before me triggered the memory of a long forgotten quote…
The Night has a thousand eyes,
And the Day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.
- Francis William Bourdillon
As late night turned to early morning the warmth of the evening faded. How can somewhere so hot during the day be so cold at night? The response I received was a welcome one; a chorus of frogs, toads and crickets. This, of course, is a question I have asked myself many a time in many a place much like this. It still comes as a surprise to me, and I like that. It was time to put the fire out and retire for the evening.
The next day brought about a weary rise, coffee and a stellar morning soak prior to the sighting of a Jerusalem Cricket. Or, as I like to call them – RUN!!! I actually didn’t know what this little red spider looking critter that was about the size of a mouse was at first sight. It was quick, and it was the first thing I looked up online once back on-grid. Red, bulbous head with six legs and a black and white striped body? Yep. Jerusalem Cricket. AKA RUN!!! Turns out, these little guys aren’t crickets and are harmless, thanks Wikipedia!
As the day wore-on temperatures continued to ratchet-up. With no natural shade available one has to make their own in conditions like this. An ice cold anything sounded great. I didn’t want to repeat overheat, so I was really focusing on staying hydrated and keeping out of the heat as much as possible. Willow Creek itself was only a slight temptation. Even though the water was moving a little, the stagnant, marshy, silty aspects kept me at bay. As did the thought of adding leeches to the roster of bugs that have already bitten or stung me. Good thing hot springs are great for bug bites, as I would test this theory over and over again throughout this trip.
Hiking around the buttes and surrounding hills led to a familiar obsidian patch. It was good to see those pesky humans hadn’t harvested all of the shiny, black fragments that lie strewn about as if someone had smashed a case of glass bottles on the rocky ground. I considered hiking south from the BLM camp on a closed road that went in the direction of Nevada. About 3 miles or so down the road were some really old basque homes made out of rock that I was interested in. Maybe if it cools off, I remember thinking after already having hiked around a few hours. Besides, some trip planning needed to be dealt with. Stay, or head towards Steens Mountain. Decisions decisions. All of this heat was really giving me a yearning for a thick, shady, cool forest.
Once again, I had to crash out thanks to a heat-induced headache. Just before I passed out, I watched a large white pickup truck with a camper on the back towing a couple bikes ZOOM past the turnoff to Willow Creek. The bugs were out as usual, but not as brutal as before. Same with my headache. I was back at it after only a couple hours of downtime, exactly 1 hour before sunset. Perfect timing – and perfect time for pre-soak photo-op. Sunset and sunrise are my favorite times of the day to shoot, and this sunset was already epic.
Part 4 next update…