Thursday, May 23, 2019

Crap Winter.

Winter 2018 - 2019… and finally out into the Wilds at the end of March.

“Grazing through a Soft Rain
& Last of the Winter Snows Melting Away”
Oil Study on Centurion Oil Primed Panel
4” x 6”

This past Winter was so annoying as I was stuck hanging around civilization for five (COUNT 'EM!) … five months, waiting on things that were out of my control to happen.  After the first four months I was ready to head out by mid-February, but then every few days the weather reports were of heavy snowfalls in the Cascades and Eastern Oregon.  So what, I thought you were a Winter guy?  I hear you enquire.  There is a difference between already being out in the Wilds, before the snows come, and gauging whether you should retreat or stay put, and coming into an already snowy High Desert, without knowing the state of the roads or the dispersed campsites.  And then I came down with the first cold/flu since I don’t know when … certainly before 2010 … it was bugger, as they say in Jolly Old …!

End of the Day from the western rim
of Hole in the Ground.

Evening light … Ponderosa Pines.
Anyway I finally got out to the Hole in the Ground area at the end of March, camping at the actual rim of the Hole, for a couple of days, and a mile back down the road for a few more.  I believe I have talked about Hole in the Ground before, so to just refresh your memory, it is a crater in the ground about half a mile across.  It is a volcanic maar, which is formed when basaltic magma rising close to the surface comes into contact with groundwater resulting in a steam or gas explosion.  They are shallow circular craters, that usually fill with water, but not these maars out here in the Fort Rock Valley, where there are to be found upwards of forty of them, so I am informed.  These may have had water once, but no more, although a small, shallow waterhole is to be found in Hole in the Ground. Big Hole and Fort Rock are two others.

The road to Hole in the Ground was icy in spots and the smaller roads were snow covered and probably impassible in many spots, so it was probably good that I hadn’t come out earlier.  Many of these roads were also closed for deer regeneration, until March 31st as well.  My second camp was a bit rainy for several days, so I did the small work above while there.  Deer came grazing through every couple of days, so there was nothing for it but to dab them into the painting; look closely … there are seven of them.  The rains were soft and quiet, for the most part, only blustery for a couple of stretches, and after three or four days of this the icy patches on the roads were reduced to almost nothing.

Storm crossing Fort Rock.

Largest Western Juniper in Oregon …

… da Bark of da tree.

Wary on his stump.
I moved a few miles after this a few miles to past Cabin Lake (no lake … no more), and had views forty miles across the desert towards Winter Ridge, above Summer Lake, the Connley Hills (separating Christmas Valley and Silver Lake), and Hager Mountain, south beyond them, and subsequently thus beyond Silver Lake. Here I watched snow showers ripping across the desert for a couple of days, rarely getting hit myself, and then settled into another more secluded camp about a mile from that camp.  Here I remained for a goodly period, as some camper had constructed a solid picnic table out of split logs, and there was a convenient stump upon which to place my camp stove!  The Forest Service would not have built this table, especially in a dispersed campsite.  On a nearby tree was a memorial wreath … I am guessing those responsible for the wreath were also responsible for said table.

Nine years ago, at Easter-time, my alternator went out as I arrived at Derrick Cave, about 20 miles northeast of Fort Rock.  Lucky for me it was Easter Saturday, so there were a couple of cars there.  One of them gave me a jump and on the way back to Fort Rock, jump-started me three more times!  I had cell connection there and rang up AAA, and long story short, I was back out at Derrick Cave by the next afternoon with a new alternator.  This time was less eventful, and I had my headlamp and so made it down into the depths of the lava tube, that is the cave, to where there is ice; sometimes all Summer long.

The lava tube known as Derrick Cave.
Sand dunes on the way
to the Lost Forest.

I had toyed with the idea of making it out to the Lost Forest, another 30 miles east from there, back in 2010, but it was not until this trek that I made it.  Not so difficult to get there, but rocky rough roads once you’re in there. The Lost Forest is a Ponderosa Pine forest separated from any other Pondies by 40 miles, and endures the driest conditions of any Pondies in Oregon.  They are also genetically different from the normal Pondies and the young trees grow more rapidly than others, according to an inter-agency biologist I ran into while leaving the forest.  I had all 9000 acres to myself for two nights.

Last light on the Junipers.

Ponderosas in the Lost Forest.

Morning on the edge of the Lost Forest.

Sand dunes upon leaving the Lost Forest …
a different day.

Mt. Washington beyond Suttle Lake
... in the Cascades.

The painting at the beginning is the only one I did on the spot, as I needed to prepare several for a Marine Art Show.  I also needed to return on the 1st of May to civilization, but I am headed back out to the Wild tomorrow … Yaaaaaaaay!!!

Pigments used in the painting:

Imprimatura: Rublev Italian Burnt Sienna;

Drawing: Rublev Italian Burnt Sienna;

Pigments: W&N Cobalt and Ultramarine Deep Blues, Cadmiums Orange;

Rublev: Red Ochre, Blue Ridge Yellow Ochre, Italian Burnt Sienna, Lead White #1;

Gamblin: Titanium Buff;

Michael Harding: Stack Lead White.