Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Cottonwood Canyon

Exploring the Pacific Northwest

Oregon's newest state park in Cottonwood Canyon is vast and lovely.  Nearly 16 miles of the John Day River meander through canyons that border high cliffs and buttes.  The park encompasses 8,000 acres of a recreational Garden of Eden.  On a rather cloudy, cool day in October, my travel buddy and I stopped here for a hike on the four-mile Pinnacles Trail.  Forever the optimists, we had hoped to spot bighorn sheep and pronghorns that roam the rocky ridges above, but all we saw were hundreds of empty swallow nests tucked under the overhangs.
"You know, I can actually see myself coming back here to camp," I mentioned as we started out our walk.  There were fishermen in the river.  It was quiet.  Beautiful.  And damn it, I wanted to see a bighorn sheep.

"Can I get that in writing?" my travel buddy teased.  (Camping, to me, is carrying an ice chest into a cheap motel room.)  I mean . . . I want to . . . I really do . . . but . . .

. . . not during hunting season.  Like now.  Only two miles in, we came across a sign: 
Welcome to hunt beyond this point.  No shooting is allowed toward developed areas.

Uh-huh.  And where exactly is there a developed area around here?

Sure enough, in the distance we saw a couple of hunters with their shotguns.  Not wearing bright orange vests, we thought it unwise to continue.  There have been one too many stories in the news lately of people being mistaken for deer.

  Now I know why we didn't see any large mammals; they were all in hiding!

Cottonwood Canyon State Park is located on Highway 206 in North Central Oregon.  Because we live only an hour or two away, I didn't feel cheated by leaving so soon.

I will return.  With a tent.

You just wait and see!

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