High & Wild in Eastern Oregon
Our final morning dawned with uncertain skies and a sweet scent of sage in the cool, moist air. The trout were quiet in the pool bugs were few and far between. With the intermittent rain that night, we discovered that the yellow clay took on new sticky attributes when wet. The ground tarp was coated and Jeff claimed he packed out 10 pounds he didn't bring in with him.
Back to Trailhead
We walked by the only other camp we knew of on our way out and greeted two friendly horses in their owners' absence. An unusual front of cool marine air had pushed its way to this eastern edge of Oregon, and we hiked out under cloudy skies. Despite the rain, the creek had dropped noticeably in two days, and we wondered if it would dry up before long. The forest trail was littered with chunks of bright lime-green lichen, tufts of pine needles and leaves the damage from yesterday's hailstorm as well as a few"snowdrifts" we hadn't seen on the way up.
The libations in the cooler in the trunk of the car were calling us, along with thoughts of clean clothes and showers at a motel before heading to our next wilderness, and we motored down the last five miles of trail in one-and-a-half hours. Which we could only do, I pointed out to Jeff, because it wasn't as steep as he would have liked!
Museums and Interpretive Centers in Eastern Oregon
Museums in Oregon tend toward small and interesting, which is good if your primary mission is hiking but you'd like to catch some local history in between. There are several museums along the Oregon Trail that provide a lot of insight into Oregon's history:
*Oregon Trail Regional Museum: Exhibits include period clothing dating back to the 1840s, artifacts from the region's schools and livelihoods (mining, farming and ranching, lumbering and the trades), and Native American implements. Also, the Cavin-Warfel Collection of rocks, minerals, fossils, and semi-precious stones, one of the best collections in the States. Located in Baker City, Oregon.
*Tamastslikt Cultural Institute: This developing center exhibits the history and culture of the Cayuse, Walla Walla, and Umatilla Tribes. Displays chronicle the years before white contact, the impact of the Oregon Trail, the survival of tribal heritage, and the tribes' place in the 21st century. Located five miles east of Pendleton, off I-84.
*Umatilla County Historical Society Museum: This museum, located in Pendleton's historic railroad depot, features artifacts from the Oregon Trail, regional Native American beadwork and various historical displays.
*National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center: Oregon exhibits and dramatic re-creations of life on the trail. This center is at the actual trail, so you can see the old wagon ruts. Located at Flagstaff Hill, Baker City.
*Kam Wah Chung Museum: This tiny building was the home and office of a prominent Chinese herbal doctor, and it also served as a center for local Chinese immigrants who came to work in the gold mines. Fascinating memorabilia and pictures, and a docent who gives a great presentation. Located at John Day, Oregon.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication