Hiking the Oregon Buttes Under a Full Moon

I don’t mind being alone and most of the time I prefer it, except for a few select humans. But I’m going to admit that I have felt lonely during the pandemic. So I made a last minute trip to the desert where I always feel the comfort of solitude. This is one of the many reasons that I am drawn back to the Red Desert time and again.

I’ve always wanted to hike to the top of the Oregon Buttes. So I did. View from the very steep trail that takes you to the top of the north buttes.

Continental Peak. Strange to be looking down on it.

Shadow of the buttes over the desert. It reminded me of climbing the Grand Teton and seeing the shadows of the Tetons on the valley below. This was no less spectacular.

The saddle between the north buttes.

South Oregon Butte and limber pine shaped by the unrelenting wind. I saw deer and elk on top and a lot of pronghorn sign.

A limber pine disguised as a baobab tree.

The air was hazy and it reminded me of being at the sea. Perhaps it was dust from the sand dunes, it’s not wildfire season yet.

Continental Divide Basin

Spiritual. Otherworldly. Surreal. I was suspended high above the desert floor between the setting sun and the moon rise. It was like the moment of pause when the tide changes.

It’s so flat on top that I expected to see a medicine wheel or a landing pad for extraterrestrials.

The almost-full moon was a complete surprise. I can’t keep track of the days of the week or the moon phase….

I stayed on top longer than I planned

I stayed on top longer than I planned since there was moonlight to light my way. It reminded me of when I was a wildlife biologist fresh out of college and working alone in the field. I was often in the middle of nowhere living in my tent for for weeks and months at a time. Hiking down in the night I felt like that person again.

Stood alone on a mountain top
Starin’ out at the Great Divide
I could go east, I could go west
It was all up to me to decide
Just then I saw a young hawk flyin’
And my soul began to rise
And pretty soon
My heart was singin’

Bob Seger – Roll Me Away


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