Steens Mountain Region, August 2013
by Ursula K. Le Guin
This is what a lot of it looks like. It is the northernmost part of the Basin and Range country, high desert, altitude over 4000′, annual rainfall under 12″ except for Steens Mountain, nearly 10,000 feet, which gets up to 40″ as rain and snow.
Rainwater and snowmelt comes roaring down the NW side of the mountain as the Donner and Blitzen River and many smaller creeks, spreads out in lakes and marshes in the valley, and stays there. This is Knox Pond. There are a good many ducks and wading birds moseying around in it.
The P-Ranch barn near Frenchglen. Peter French ran a cattle empire for absentee bosses over the whole area before it began to be homesteaded. His great barns are admirable structures.
Inside the P-Ranch barn — long unused, of course.
Red Crater, in the Diamond Lava Beds, a state park, site of many recent small but fierce volcanic eruptions. This was one of them.
I am standing on the edge of Red Crater, shooting across one corner of it to the high point. The person on the skyline gives some sense of the scale.
Malheur Maar, the end of the road in the Diamond Lava Beds. The tiny lake inside the crater always has a pair of ducks living on it. A memorably strange and silent place.
I photograph this old ranch outbuilding every year. It’s a little more decrepit every time, but not much more.
Taken from the front steps of the ranch house where I sit every morning to watch the sun come up. That butte with its rimrock edge is one wall of the narrow valley. This picture was taken at evening, with the sinking sun throwing the shadow of the similar butte behind the house onto this one.
Work on the ranch.