Monday, August 29, 2011

Going New Places, Completely By Accident

In life there are often those things that you should do, and then the things you do instead. This weekend I did the instead. I should have been studying for the GRE, doing dishes, laundry, bathing my dog, mowing the lawn, cleaning out the basement, grocery shopping and finishing up my grad school application. Instead, I drove out of town with a friend and went on an adventure.

{Columbia Hills State Park}

{Protected Grasses and a Lone Tree}

The original plan was to check out the petroglyphs along the Columbia River. But thanks to some slightly off googlemap directions we wound up in the middle of the Columbia Hills State Park. The river side part of the park was originally a Native American Village, a site which Lewis and Clark camped at during their expedition west.

{Not exactly "wild" life, but life none the less}

{Moth or Buterfly....cannot find identification}

{Tree in a working ranch}

The park originally included the camp (an attempt to preserve history), the petroglyph site and Horsethief lake. From the information I can find the actual public park area is a little over 3300 acres. But from what we discovered this weekend it is a bit bigger. Probably due to a commission in 2003 to include donated land from the Dalles Mountain Ranch at which time the whole area was named Columbia Hills State Park.  



The Crawford ranch was built in 1878 by Willam N. Crawford, his son John C. Crawford was a Washington Sate Representative and later a Senator from 1915-1921. I couldn’t find all the information about the ranch that I would have liked to.

{Mail box still stands}

{Crawford Farm House}

{Peeling Details on the farmhouse}

{Grapes still growing on the garden side of the house}

{Pool buit by the Crawford Family}

{The pools is still home to gold fish}

  But in 1975 Pat Bleakney  became the third and final owner of the 6,123 acre ranch that was then named Dallas Mountain Ranch. In 1993 the ranch was returned to public domain and in 2003 it was joined with the river side property to become the now state park.

{Dallas Mountain Ranch}

{More Ranch Outbuildings}


{Old Wagon}

The park is a huge expanse of native grasses and dwelling species. I have never in my life seen so many grasshoppers and giant bees. The raven population was out of this world, we saw a few deer and we even found signs of others animals (scat and jawbones) we were guessing canine or possibly medium sized wild cats, though we saw neither (sadly but probably luckily considering how far out were we).

{Bird of Prey Nest}

{Bleached out Jaw Bone}


We under estimated the elevation of the hike, the heat of the day and lack of tree cover. As well as the population of Rattle Snakes and Ticks. So plans to go back in the fall are in action. As we were following my phones horrible directions we accidently stumbled across the ranch buildings and a hiking trail which the Columbia Hills State Park web site fails to mention. I wouldn’t suggest going if you don’t have a tough mountain vehicle, the gravel road looks unassuming but quickly becomes quite steep and rutted. In fact on the way down we both were surprised we had even made it up in the first place having, caught up in the joy of adventure, not realized the grade of the road or the size of the rocks we were driving over.

{Looking back along the trail}

{Oregon from Washington}

At any rate, having shirked all of my responsibilities turned out to be a great plan, as did following some bad directions. We discovered a new place to hike, an abandoned turn of the century ranch, some amazing wild life and we did eventually see the petrophyphs we drove so far to find.
{Racoons perhaps?}

{Mountain Goats}

{Maybe a lizard}

I guess sometimes being irresponsible leads to great things. This weekend left me with a great sense of renewal and a readiness to finish my looming tasks with zeal. On to the week and hopefully getting many things done.

*All pictures are mine. Taken in the Columbia River Gorge August 27th 2011.

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