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Adventure in the Canyon

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01 Jun 2014
As some who follow along on twitter know, I headed out Sunday into the canyon.

Typically Guy comes along however he had chores to do and took me the ten minutes away which takes me hours to walk. That cut down so much time just having him drive me to the side of the road where there is a good start into the canyon (I best go see what the dogs are barking at). I swear this one mastiff we have barks just to hear himself bark haha! Back to my little write up!

So Guy drops me off and tells me he will be at our meat up spot in two hours to pick me up...... wow two hours! It took me four hours to get to the meet up spot, but I am jumping ahead here. I get out of the truck and start grabbing my camera backpack that has my older model canon and all my supplies. Then the water canteen. Have to have water any time one goes on a walk here in the High Desert of Oregon!! Last my camera with my leans on I will have on me.


First thing Guy and I hear is a Red Tailed Hawk screaming at us! This hawk continued the screaming and following up in the sky for some ways!! Guy tells me before he drives off, "I will be at our meeting spot in two hours, we know how well your timing is". We looked at each other and laughed!

Time, never been good with time!! EVER! Why I think I like to be early for meeting and such is because something can get my attention and time means nothing! This day was no different. I headed off.......

The water was running and I followed. The purpose of following the water was to make it to the waterfall that one can only see by either hiking in on foot or horseback, by boat or by airplane. Plus wildlife have to drink, water is a big deal here on the high desert!!

Butterfly was the first real living thing other then that pesky hawk screaming at me from above! I really did not feel I had enough room on my camera card or battery life in my battery for this hike. I did not know I was going to be there!!I may have to dig out my other camera but.... I passed up photographing that butterfly for some wildflowers. WOW, do I love seeing the flowers blooming on the desert floor!! 

I did find what folks call a "deer trail", to follow. This is not a designated walking trail like folks see in the city or even down at Lake Billy Chinook. Walk in and do as little damage as you can as to not even see your tracks! I did my best to stay to this "deer trail", that it was obvious the critters use. At times the trail would disappear into just patches of desert floor. No grass no nothing to even make a indent of any kind of trail.

Keeping the water to my right side told me I am going in the right direction. NOTHING like getting lost!! With the canyon walls both to my right and left , rather hard to get lost but you might be surprised! One canyon looks like another after some time. I did forget a weapon, which concerned Guy but told him I will be fine! I only carry a weapon due to the creatures I have encountered. Rarely encountering people.

I did see a rock chuck come out of it's rock home to find out what all the noise was! It froze the whole time I walked by. By this time the Hawk seamed to be keeping to the spot I hiked through, the screaming was getting further away finally stopping. I am out of it's territory I figured?

Oh boy the songbirds!! Made me wish I brought my audio recorder in which I left at home due to again, not knowing I was coming on this hike! Vary quiet in the canyon but the sounds of running water and the creatures I was sharing the canyon with! I came upon and passed quite a lot of coyote scat which if you ever had coyotes where you live you know the difference in coyote and domesticated, well fed pet dogs. Typically well fed dogs do not have hair and calcium deposits in their scat....... This told me I am in a coyotes territory which is not uncommon here in the high desert.

The things you do not want to see while hiking alone with no weapon is mountain lion tracks. Guy has drilled such things into my head and what they look like! Predators typically are not going to show themselves unless I just happen upon them and coyotes dont want anything to do with us! Other hikes alone and with Guy and the dogs have taught me that coyotes will follow quietly, usually they are alone and follow just out of curiosity or waiting for you to kick something up. Though I did have one vary close to me attack the quail that I too was watching. The coyote and I made eye contact and I think I scared it as it scared me? Who is prepared for a coyote to jump out of no where?? Never have ran into a mountain lion, ever..... we only seen tracks of them. The bear we have seen just run away. No bear where I was have ever been seen in the area, at least lately. I try and keep up with such things. Mountain lions yes and the state of Oregon is really good about putting up notices for the tourists. I however, was not in a tourist area , but either Guy or I would have gotten wind of such news.

I did come across some strange sounds that made me stop in my tracks! Hiking in canyons one thing to be curtain of is, sound carries! What could sound as if it is right in front of you, could be sound bouncing off the rock walls of the canyon. Stopping is only logical. I stopped to check out my surroundings, make sure I am not being followed.

You know how you can stair at a person and they will look at you?? Well critters have this sense but it is acute, it is life to wildlife. Some folks can tell when others are looking at them. This is what it felt like in this canyon, I was being watched. It would be rather ignorant of me to think anything different anyways!! I am in another beings house, so of course I am being watched!

I look around trying to figure out where that odd noise is coming from!! I move slow one step stop, the noise is still going on loudly! The strange noise is so loud it drowns out the noise of the running water, no pun intended! All the species of animals I have photographed comes to mind..... just does not sound like anything I have photographed?

Can not say how long I was at that spot?? Though I did finally realize where the noise was coming from!! There was a hole in a tree, waste high. I looked into the hole which of course was pitch black and I wished I would have brought my little flash light.... again I did not know I was going on this hike!! The noise stopped!!

In fact everything stopped but the noise of the running water! Quiet!! I thought this was interesting! I must of looked in that hole several times. I did see movement, but what on earth is moving around down there?? I thought I seen a beak, but really not sure?? I moved away from the hole in the tree and made sure some branches and leaves were hiding me, and waited. Nothing...... My limbs go numb if I stay in one spot to long, just the way it is and I have learned to deal with this. I looked in the hole one more time and tried to get my lens in there, but whatever it is moving around is just to deep into the tree. I thought I could put my hand in there , but that is stupid!! I moved on.....

I noticed a black colored dragonfly kept following me. More then likely the dragonfly was using me as protection from the birds who eat it, and I was kicking up bugs that it ate. I got a couple shots of it when it would allow me too. I also noticed a lot of robberflies! I hear one does not want to be bit by one of these! They look so darn prehistoric , what nightmares are made of! Three eyed insects with a vary good hunting capability, more so then the dragonflies. Or this has been my observations. Either I was seeing a lot of these robberflies or one of them is keeping near me for the same reasons I am thinking that dragonfly was?? Right in front of me at one point, a robberfly caught a pretty butterfly I no doubt kicked up by just walking.

Oh hey I see the top of the waterfall! End of the running water! At this time I started getting dive bombed by birds!! Some choice words came from my mouth that are not appropriate words but they came flying out of my mouth as fast as those darn swallowtails were dive bombing me!! I must be around a nest?? Still, I am getting shots of this waterfall anyways! The swallowtail, I assume they were some species of swallowtail. They are always seen at this spot and pretty birds if you can get a shot of them! They were just throwing a fit screaming, dive bombing me! Get over it I told them!

I promised Guy I would not go out on the rocky ledges of the canyon rim! Vertigo hit me as I looked down at the water. This soon went away. I did get shots of the waterfall, and though I kept my promise as far as walking to the canyon ledge, I did check out the deep crevasses of the canyon rim..... These cracks in the rocks extend out about five feet or so from the canyon rim. Some spots more so away from the ledge then others. Some day these rocks will fall into the canyon, Guys feelings of this is - he does not want me going into the canyon itself on these rocks. I see where he is coming from. I would get hurt, anyone would! Falling rock is a possibility and I checked this theory out away from the canyon ledge on some of the rocks. Sure enough they fell into the crevasses .

The lizards use the crevasses as homes, and to hide in. Many lizards running here and there out of my way and my shadow was even looked at as a threat to the lizards! I did notice the lizards have yet to get real blue. The Western Fence Lizards can get real blue! Actually real pretty for lizards!

I do have a choice here at the waterfall, right or left?? To get to our meeting spot I have to take a left. Then is when I noticed the Turkey Vultures. WOW quite a few of them, counted nine. So, this is seen as quite a few. Turkey Vultures are common here, and typically dont harm anyone unless, a huge unless you are near a nest!! We found this out when one dive bombed Guy knocking off his hat and Guy  dove to the ground.... I of course laughed and got photographs of the bird looking real proud of itself haha! These vultures were not being aggressive. One of them gave out a yell as it looked at me, but it seams as if it was calling in more? For that is when more came over.

Their shadow was even playing tricks with me! At first I thought the vulture shadow was something running like a cotton tail rabbit, but no. Just a shadow since I was on top of the canyon and the vultures were flying real close to me! Turkey Vultures are rather large birds if you have never been close to one. Extremely curious and will check you out!! I am sure being here at Lake Billy Chinook checking out people has given the birds a good advantage since people are dirty and vultures like dirty!! They clean up the desert floor of anything edible. YUM YUM haha.

People also scare out creatures who might be eating on something? This the turkey vultures will take full advantage of! We scare whatever is eating, the vultures come right in and take whatever is being eaten on, win win the birds must feel? Learned behavior is, people are a food source.

Checking out the beautiful view of the canyon. Boaters are in the canyon skiing, some being pulled on boards, some just chilling on their boats. I see a house boat, which visitors can rent! We seen a sign saying $250 a day or something for a house boat rental. Some boater has Johnny Cash blaring on his music player while someone else has some rap song going. It can be vary noise in the canyon!! AND these boaters may not realize it, but I can even hear them talk up here on the canyon rim haha. Some of the things said down there is really quite funny when folks think no one is around to hear them haha!! Some of the things are quite personal too! Other times , oh look someone is up there, how did they get up there haha!

This vary thing is why I refuse to take the dogs here!! The canyon can play tricks on people, and dogs!! With the birds flying so close, cotton tail rabbits I have seen here, the lizards! Dogs can and have been known to fall right off the ledge into the canyon! One of the canyons here in our area has a huge sign telling visitors NO DOGS!! I would not even bring a child there where I hike! Maybe a older teenager?? If that teenager has good sense? Funny, my boys have never had a interest in coming out with me or us. Sure a couple times one or the other have came with, but they tend to think it is to boring. Perhaps cause I had to drag them with me to places when they were little?? Heck one of my kids would collect spent shotgun shells. It was cute, he would say mom, these people are littering. Could not argue with his logic!!

I spend some time with the turkey vultures at that spot! The crevasses were not so dominant here. It looks like at one time there may have been crevasses as other parts of the canyon wall but have long ago fell into the canyon leaving only a indent where vegetation is now growing. Plus I am keeping my promise to Guy...... I even thought about sitting and taking a rest. Who knows how long I have been gone at this point?? The canteen is about half gone at this point and it sure gets hot up here! I left it was 60 degrees, that was at 9am. Did not think it was going to get to hot this day.

I did notice some activity on the other side of the canyon. Bird activity. Not turkey vultures! Looked as if several of the turkey vultures were not allowing the other birds to fly over where I was. Thought that was interesting how different species of birds interact with each other. The other species of bird went higher in the sky and here they come with those turkey vultures that looked like they were guards hot on their trail!

Come to find out the other species of birds were young bald eagles! Two spotty brown,white,black feathered bald eagles screaming at the turkey vultures as the vultures were screaming back at them, what a show!! Hope the visitors down in the canyon in their boats are seeing this! If that is they are interested in such things. Surprise or not, some folks could care less about wildlife! I dont get it myself but.....


The young bald eagles came over, checked out the situation. There were so many turkey vultures I dont think the eagles thought it was worth it! They flew back over to the other side of the canyon where no doubt there is a nest?? By this time I was looking in my lens to see if I could see adult bald eagles but I did not see any. This whole area is a hot spot for bald eagles!! Few miles down the canyon one will come upon the Warm Spring Indian Reservation and they hold once a year a bald eagle watch. Heck for what that is worth I could be standing on reservation land?? Never checked it out before.....

At one time I hear this whole area belonged to the Warm Springs Tribe? Then more people moved into the area and needed electricity , needed places to play in their boats, fish and hunt. Camping is big here as well. Folks from all over come here to play. Not just folks from the USA either! The dam makes more water back up into the lake. What the Crooked River, the Metolius River and the Deshutes River all flow here. It is a unique place and one of my favorites! I am glad we live so close to the canyon. The canyon, when I speak of "The Canyon", it is typically here is what I am speaking of.

This is where I thought you know , I am going to head to the meet up spot and be there before Guy for my sense of time is really good you know, wink wink laugh ! So I started out leaving the views and the birds. The turkey vultures some of them actually followed me! This is when I heard something screaming at me once again!! Not a vulture, not a eagle.... it was some species of hawk. It was not a red tail but sure looked small up against the vultures!! The turkey vultures did not feel threatened by this little hawk either!! Oh heck it could have been a falcon too?? I have not seen one osprey that day which was weird, they must just be in another spot fishing?

The smaller bird of prey darted off never to be seen again. I guess it told me off but good? I looked for my landmark off in the distance. Then I thought wait a minute this does not look right!! OH CRAP, I am still in the original canyon I started out in!! I have to climb up out of this canyon!! Darn, I am never going to make it to the meeting spot before Guy now!!

I spent way to long with the turkey vultures and the scenery at that spot!! So I start the climb UP. By the way, you know water canteens and camera equipment gets heavy after a while haha! I know you know this haha! However I just thought I would say this out loud ha!!

Up I climb! Only thing that gets old is the climb out of the canyons I find myself attracted too! Not all of them have roads, or usable roads! Ya Lake Billy has nice roads for tourists go there, but ..... if you have ever been to Lake Billy Chinook those canyons are everywhere here, not just there! Lake Billy Chinook is the biggest one though....

I get to the top where there is really nothing but desert floor. Seeing a lot of lizards here! I get to a good spot to snap a photograph then I start heading to the meet up spot. I admit I was looking forwards to the nice comfortable seats of that truck haha!! After some time of walking I hear the truck horn and think oh crap Guy is there waiting already!!

I walk out of the desert and there is Guy! Getting into the truck and the nice comfortable seats I ask Guy, "You just get here"?? I did not ask this because I thought he just got there, I asked this for I new , just new my timing was off and that was more positive then saying ya ya I am late!!

Two hours late I was! Guy took it quite well, I mean he was telling me of getting done with all his chores, then going to town for gas, and coming back here waiting for me. Then going back to the house, getting some things coming back to the meeting spot..... I can just imagine how freaked out he was? We now know my "loop", takes me 4 hours to hike alone.

NOTE: some of the images might be out of order....

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