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A brief tour of Crooked River country

I can't say the quality of these photos is all that great, but I feel that I've written about my trips to the Crooked River Canyon a lot without giving much in the way of visual aids. These four photos were taken on the hike I mentioned in my previous post, which took us along Otter Bench Trail and Opal Pool Loop. This first shot shows the canyon, which has two layers. The river cut the broader canyon first, then it was halfway filled by another lava flow (or series of flows), and the river cut the that rock in a narrower canyon down to its current depth. As I mentioned in the last post, there are three rivers in this area (the other two are the Metolius and the Deschutes, and all of this water flows into the mighty Columbia to the north), and all three have cut similar canyons.

These basalt columns are a typical feature of the canyons -- the result of cooling lava. This is on the upper rim of the canyon, so older than the lower "bench". You can't see it in this photo, but underneath this layer of basalt is a layer of sedimentary rock that looks like rough concrete.

I mentioned the wild flowers we saw on the hike. There are an amazing variety of wild flowers in this area, many of them practically microscopic. These jumped out for their brilliant red. It looks like Indian paintbrush, but I won't lay money on that identification. The high desert of Central Oregon, just on the other side of the Cascade Mountains, gets ten to fifteen inches of rain per year, which is certainly a lot more than the lower desert further east gets. Spring had sprung even here.

Here is the beginning of Lake Billy Chinoook, which is formed by the confluence of the three rivers, although I believe dams are also involved. This is a major agricultural area, and the rivers provide irrigation water. One of the things I love about Central Oregon is the smell, and the perfume is very strong right now -- a combination of sagebrush, juniper, pine (at least in the wetter areas), flowers, and grass. Supposedly in olden days this was almost purely grassland, but white settlers brought in cattle that ate the grass down and allowed sagebrush and juniper to take over.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
May. 15th, 2012 03:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the sheer range of the lava flows is pretty awe-inspiring in itself.
May. 21st, 2012 01:32 pm (UTC)
Very attractive country this but then I've always had a preference for the uplands. I also love the exotic feel of all those gorges, Australia being so old and worn in geological terms we don't have many good gorges left and the ones we have are mostly in remote locations.
May. 21st, 2012 03:06 pm (UTC)
Western North America is fairly young in geological terms, so it isn't so worn down.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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