Mann Lake and Sunrise Valley, OR

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A few days of peakbagging around Steens Mountain.

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Tom and I had read about Big Dan getting a bunch of summits in this area. Neither of us knew the area, so we were intrigued.

So after a big day in the Lemhis before, I crashed at Tom's house and the next morning we headed to Oregon. First to Jordan Valley, then Rome, and then to Burns Junction. From there, north toward Malheur Lake.

Peak 4932

Lists of John

Near Baker Pass, after driving a little over two hours, we stopped to stretch our legs on Peak 4932, one of the peaks Dan had done. This is the view from the pullout. The summit if just out of sight on the far right.

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Ruby was so happy to be out of the truck.

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It's a short little peak and we were on top in no time.

Speaking of time, it was about 10:30.

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Gorgeous day. Lots to look at. Mountains off to the west. Trailhead
There's the highway continuing on toward Malheur Lake and Burns. Trailhead

Then it was back to the truck.

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Peak 5009

Lists of John

Without moving the truck, we were off to our second peak, Peak 5009, which is just barely peeking over this ridge. Dan had not done this one, we suppose because it is a ways off the highway and there was probably snow?

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Critters.

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It took less than an hour to walk at ATV trail and bushwack a sagebrush ridge. However, we were learning about the area. What looks like benign grass-and-sagebrush hillsides is actually hiding very rocky and uneven ground. In the interest of ankle health, you pretty much have to watch every single step.

Summit of Peak 5009. Sunshine. And some wind.

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On our return, looking at our first peak of the day.

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Map

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Turnbull Peak

Lists of John

We drove a couple miles up the road towards Burns and turned up a rough two-track. The sagebrush in the middle of the tracks was pretty tall, but it as cool out and the brush has some moisture in it. When that changed, we got out and started walking. Braver souls might have driven farther.

From there, this one required a decent hike. Turnbull is just peeking its head above the right side of the divide ahead.

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There it is. Trailhead
After hiking up the gently-rising valley, we had some steeper slopes to ascend. Note Tom and Ruby in the sagebrush below. Trailhead
Then the actual peak, with some light scrambling. Trailhead
It was hot (to us, anyway- high of 78°), so the wind on the summit felt good. Tom intermixing with other summit monuments. Trailhead
This would be a next-to-summit shot. Trailhead
Looking back from whence we had come. Trailhead
And on the left side of that photo, our next summit for the day. Trailhead

Peak 4855

Lists of John

We backtracked off Turnbull a short distance,then swung south to start up the ridge.

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Looking back at Turnbull. Trailhead

Summit.

Doing summit business: me drying my socks, Tom doing social media. Yes, cell phone service was available, all the way out here.

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This area is a sea of sagebrush, but there are also tons of wildflowers.

It's also incredibly quiet. Very soooothing.

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From there, we were able to shortcut back to the truck, creating a loop. Trailhead
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Peak 4684

Lists of John

Another short drive up the highway and a short section of a much better dirt road brought us to the start of our fifth peak of the day. We were both a little tired. But you might notice that so far, these are all lower elevation than my house in McCall. Up, up, up into the sagebrush!

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Tom nearing the summit. You can see the better dirt road below, and in the background you can see snow on the ridge north of Steens Mountain. Trailhead
Ruby re-hydrating on the summit. Trailhead
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And then we piled into the truck and headed south to Mann Lake, where we stayed at the "campground." This campground is really nothing more than a parking spot near a pit toilet, but with a view. Trailhead

Peak 6275

Lists of John

After a windy night's sleep, we were up and moving early to beat the 'heat'. But that cell-phone photo from last evening didn't do justice to the view, so here's a shot of Steens Mountain in the morning glow.

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And here it is from our parking spot for Mickey Butte. Trailhead
Time to go swim some sagebrush. Trailhead
This time, the rocks underfoot got to be about knee high. Trailhead

As we climbed this ridge, it was hard to tell where the summit was; both location and height. So although we were spread out a bit today, we were playing similar games: I won't look at my GPS until I get to that big rock up there. Or until 9:30. Or whatever little game you wanted. Just keep climbing.

But finally, the summit came into view.

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And then we were on top. Gorgeous view.

But maddeningly, on a windy day in the desert, we were swarmed by mosquitoes.

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This summit was covered by dish-shaped rocks that we found very interesting. On inspection, we found that the dishes fitted inside one another; having come from these weird exfoliating boulders we called cabbage rocks.. Trailhead

Mickey Butte

Lists of John

Enough with the pseudo-geology. That's Mickey Butte over there, and it is calling our names.

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From high on Mickey Butte, looking back at Peak 6275. Trailhead
And from the summit of Mickey Butte, looking south at the Alvord Desert playa. Trailhead

Summit shot.

You can almost smell the sunscreen and bug repellent.

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Rather than retrace our steps, I talked Tom into making a loop out of it. He was skeptical but willing. So here we are trying to create a shortcut, but not able to see the truck.

But there were sights along the way. I call these 'mother nature's stretch marks.'

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After a while, we finally got sight of the truck. It's in the greener spot, sort of mid-photo.

Also, that's Peak 5190, which we would be visiting soon.

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More sights. Trailhead

And more wildflowers.

There were actually LOTS of wildflowers. These just impressed with their quantity.

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Peak 5190

Lists of John

This was a cool looking peak, even if we weren't looking at the actual summit.

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Part way up, this is looking back. The truck is down there somewhere. Trailhead
Up and up. Trailhead
It's big, wild, and open country. Trailhead
Just to put that last shot in perspective, this is without the zoom used in the previous photo. Trailhead
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When we got back to the truck, a quick accounting showed we were running low on water. Out here, that is not good. So we drove to the closest place we could find clean water, the Malheur Lake Wildlife Refuge. That took some time, which also put the kibosh on any further climbing today.

So after filling up, we returned to our little climbing area and went in search of a place to camp. The search was successful, and we enjoyed a most pleasant evening.

I was a little concerned about Ruby until I realized that she normally gets nap-time at home. Not so much here. So once at camp, she was catching up.

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Peak 5750

Lists of John

We did this one from camp, so the sun is not yet up. At least it's not too hot.

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Rocks on the summit ridge. It's not ALL sagebrush! Trailhead
You can tell by Ruby's lifted ear that there is some wind on the summit. Trailhead
Summit shot. Sun up, but barely, plus a little overcast adding some color. Trailhead
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Peak 5396

Lists of John

As we were heading up this hillside, Ruby stirred up a badger. As she was chasing it straight down the hill at Tom, it got a little exciting. Fortunately, the badger turned and went into its hole before anyone got hurt. Ruby spent the rest of the morning on a leash.

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The summit could be anywhere over a couple of acres of a very flat summit. We walked around a bit wit our GPSs looking for a highpoint, without anything showing.

It wasn't until later that I realized there is a big lake or pond up there, just south of this summit-ish area.... dang!

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Peak 5803

Lists of John

That last peak was pretty un-impressive (other than the badger incident). So I was looking forward to finishing on a peak with a point to it. Tom is off on the left here.

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And here he is clambering over one of the rocky sections. Trailhead

And the whole group on our final summit of the trip.

Tom's goal was to climb his 100th Oregon peak, and he needed 11 to do that. Mission accomplished!

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The summit scramble, only now we are heading down. Trailhead

And a parting image of Eastern Oregon

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