Saturday, June 15, 2013

Crack-in-the-Ground, Fort Rock, and Homestead Village

After 8 fun-filled days in the Oregon outback, it was time to go home.  So John, Merle and I tossed our gear and man funk (we hadn't showered in 8 days) into the car and began the journey home. Even though we were leaving, we had to get some last hikes in before returning to the unreal world.

Nature's plumber's crack
The first stop was at Crack-in-the-Ground, near Christmas Valley. Having been to Christmas Valley, I think it safe to say that Santa does not live there and the residents don't not look like elves or Santa's helpers.

John and Merle get cracking

Eons ago, four nearby cones erupted and covered the land with extensive lava flows. However, as the magma chamber emptied, the earth shrunk like a deflated balloon and the the ground sunk, causing a large crack to form in the hardened lava flow. The net result is a two mile crack with a trail at the bottom in what arguably is the largest plumber's crack in the world. The path is narrow and most times both walls can be touched with one arm span. It is not your hike if you are claustrophobic.

She did not make us feel welcome

When Merle, John, and I exited the crack, a hawk screeched at us in obvious irritation. She no doubt wanted us to keep away from her nest which was probably nearby. Horseflies also greeted us, but in bloodsucking joy with no distress. The only non-nest-related distress was that of victimized hikers.  

Fort Rock

Further down the road, we visited Fort Rock State Park. We had seen the iconic monument from Hager Mountain, Fort Rock was notable even from that distance. The fort is a volcanic crater that eroded over time, attaining it's current U-shaped form.  

Inside the crater
We did the short 1.5 mile hike in the crater's interior. John's hike might have been a little bit longer as he (illegally) angled to the cliff's base where ravens screeched and dive-bombed him. They get touchy when people get near their cliffy nests. We enjoyed close-up views of the crater rim with expansive views of the small town of Fort Rock and surrounding valley with Hager Mountain looming high in the distance.

Our last stop was in the small town of Fort Rock where we visited the Fort Rock Homestead Museum. Back in the late 1800's (and no, kids, I was not alive back then), homesteads were awarded to those who dreamed of owning their own land. Part of the requirements for keeping the homestead was that the homesteaders needed to farm the land and make it self-sufficient. Alas, the dry desert terrain was not conducive to good farming and most homesteaders rapidly went broke, losing everything they ever owned. Not a happy story in most cases. At any rate, some of the the old buildings from that era have been relocated to the museum grounds making the homesteader's financial ruin our happy gain.

Bye, vacation
Well, our vacation to the Oregon outback was over and we headed back to Roseburg for a joyous reunion with a shower nozzle.  Some of us had to to first reunite with a garden hose before being allowed inside the house. For more pictures of this travel day, please visit the following albums:


Fort Rock

Fort Rock Homestead Museum

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