RK and I have perfected our style of adventure in many parts of the west. We have finely honed our navigational skills to find solitude, open space and clean air. But we have a new home base. The people are a little different, the landscape is not the same, and we need to learn how to navigate the public land here.
Verify the Source
One thing about moving to a new place is you have to learn whose advice to take. A place that someone recommends might be great, but not necessarily suit your style. Or it might not be great in any obvious way, but everyone has a different idea of awesome. Good intentioned folks can make a recommendation, but what do we know about their outdoor habits and preferences? Take all advice with a certain degree of wariness and remember that expectations are just future disappointments.
Someone outdoorsy recommended Strawberry Mountain, just south of Prairie City, OR. The only road in the canyon dead ends at an access point to the Strawberry Wilderness. Every car that went past our camp also came back down once they realized the campground at the end of the road was full. On a dry dirt road in the forest, the dust just kinda hangs around in the trees, in the campsite, and infiltrates shoes, tent, fingernails, etc… Don’t look for solitude on a dead end road.
I have heard from more than one source that people in Oregon litter a lot. My observations have verified this. Take this to the woods and you see a lot of toilet paper, human poo, glass, cigarette butts and other crap for the dogs to get in trouble with. Which reinforces our habit of avoiding campgrounds, especially in Oregon.
If you see a lot of deer on the road, there are probably even more deer about to be on the road. Even if there are raptors soaring nearby and chipmunks doing adorable things in your peripheral vision, do not take your eyes off the road. Also, anticipate that deer, chipmunks, and birds will act erratically and unpredictably. Go slow.
You Can Always Leave
Despite an excellent night’s sleep, and a decent short jaunt up the trail, Strawberry Mountain was not for us. We packed up and left that dusty, overgrown, poo-filled canyon behind. We looped the drive to check out some potential cool spots in the area for future exploration before heading to a favorite river for a beer and some fishing.