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"Overcast Day over Sycan Marsh … Yamsay Mountain lost in Cloud"
(Oregon High Desert)
Oil Sketch on Winsor & Newton Canvas Panel
5" x 7"
Imprimatura: W&N Venetian Red
Pigments used were Rublev Blue Ridge Yellow Ochre, Italian Burnt Sienna & Lead White #2, with Winsor & Newton Venetian Red and Cobalt and Ultramarine Blues. There … tech stuff out of the way.
The morning of December 8th was spent within a three quarters of a mile of the incident, cleaning and maintaining my tools and my ancient pair of Sorel boots; these latter are decades old, and still good, since I’ve not had much occasion to use them having spent all those years in Cornwall, England, where the weather rarely gets below freezing. I had lost a week’s painting, but there were other returns. There was a certain pride in having faced a life threatening situation and had not been found wanting, and having had such an experience should serve me well in the future. Many others have been tested and weathered similar as a matter of course, and others have failed, while many others have never had to face such a test and will never know. In the weeks since, I have briefly related this story to a few acquaintances, with varying reactions. I would have freaked, was one, which seemed to have been the general sentiment, especially by those who would never be out there at that time of the year; that is very understandable. Since I choose to go into the wild places, I am glad to have had the experience, as I now know how I will likely react when unforeseen occurrences appear somewhere down the pike. I too freaked during the initial moments of discovering I was stuck, and that I was going to lose 3 hours of a painting day while I gathered dead sage and fallen juniper branches to get myself unstuck. But when I realized that the branches and sage had not worked, freaking out and annoyance was no longer an option, and cool reflection was the order of the day. A relatively minor 3 hour annoyance can afford the luxury of the odd freak out, but when it becomes clear that the annoyance is larger, and a day or two (or seven), is what is necessary to retrieve the situation, the mindset must change to meet the new situation.
And so after cleanup and lunch I proceeded a few miles down the road and decided on a Ponderosa grove, on NFD 27, overlooking Sycan Marsh for my campsite, still at about 5500’, and I would paint the view from here the next morning. Many of these High Desert Marshes seem to be mostly grazing land, and are marshes in the Spring when the snow melts or in high precipitation years. Perhaps there are areas of bog, but they are not what I grew up to think of as a marsh, back in the Midwest; I expect I would change my mind after a period of heavy precipitation; I’m still getting a handle on this varied High Desert landscape.
It was generally overcast the next morning, even though the Moon had been out most of the night, and only the base of Yamsay Mountain, across the level of Sycan Marsh was visible below the cloud base. I could see the odd patch of snow on its slopes. Occasional rain blotted out the mountain and the far side of the Marsh a couple of times during the painting session, but the hoped for clearing never occurred, so I never was able to glimpse the contour of the top ... another time. After painting I had a couple of hours of daylight left so I continued on towards Winter Ridge, to the east, hoping to reach the rim overlooking Summer Lake, but as the altitude there is at 7000’ I ran into snow on the road, and decided I would not risk that, even though there were tire tracks I might have followed; that’s what got me stuck on the flat. The radio was talking about wind in the forecast, which could translate to more snow up at altitude, and as it was late afternoon now, I risked it not. I was stopped by snow covered roads twice more, on NFD 29, attempting to get down to Summer Lake 3000’ lower, and then on NFD 28 just before Bald Butte, attempting to get down towards Lakeview. In the end I retraced to NFD 30 which would take me down to Hwy 140, not far east of Beatty, and on to Lakeview, and a Launderette, the next morning. That night I spent off of NFD 30, near a small quarry pond, with a lone female Ring-necked Duck in residence.
Last photo of the Road. This is just before I attempted my final escape and before I had to extend it a bit to the left on the far bank (the left bank), and here on the left of the right bank (extreme left foreground) towards the viewer, after I reversed the truck onto this extreme left part of the turnaround, here seen in the foreground. This is where I ended up prizing stones out from the right hand side of the turnaround and laying them over on the left towards the viewer, and also on the far bank. This Saga is now over for this blog … thank goodness, I hear you cry.