Saturday January 29th, 2011: With the Owyhee Desert just starting to dry out from the current warm and dry spell we are in right now, I decided to take a short hike. My dog Addie and I headed south of Grand View, Idaho on Mud Flat Road to a wash I picked out on Google Earth. We encountered some bad weather, weird rocks, motorcycles where they shouldn't be and a place to get away from it all.
Fog and Freezing Drizzle Microclimate
While it was warm and sunny in the Mountain Home area when I left the house, there was a thick fog covering the Snake River plains that extended right into the Owyhee Front. I had to stop the truck a few times while on the paved section of Mud Flat Road because freezing drizzle was icing up my windshield. This freezing drizzle was the probable the heaviest I've ever seen. And in place the visibility was in the 1/16 miles range.
Little Purjue Wash Hike To the Black Spot
My dog Addie and I parked about 1.5 miles south of where Mud Flat Road changes from paved to a gravel road. Little Purjur Wash is a self named wash on the east side of the road heading northeast. It's not a well defined wash and not a particularly a pretty place either. But the further north one heads into this wash, the more interesting the landscape becomes. There are places where it does turn into a very minor canyon with walls in the 20-30 foot range.
This is a picture of the dark landscape I was interested in.
The blue line is a portion of my GPS track. Click to see a Google Map link.
I chose to hike this wash because it led to an unusual looking spot in Google Earth imagery. The area looked rather dark and knobby in the imagery so I figured I could do some rock hounding in the area. I also thought the darker shading of the land might be an old burn area so it kind of piqued my curiosity.
So what was that black spot in Little Purjur Canyon?
Once I got into this area it was hard to determine why it looked so dark in satellite imagery. It wasn't until a climbed out of the wash that I think I figured it out. Some of the rocks in this area are quite black...but not particularly wide spread at least from my vantage point of 6 feet off the ground.
I broke open one rock and it reminded me of asphalt. It was rather soft and crumbly with lighter speck of material in it. Don't know what the stuff is but if you know, please leave a comment.
ORV's in the middle of Nowhere? - Jerks!
Obviously this is ranching country! There are a few ill-defined dirt roads crisscrossing Little Purjur Canyon so motorcycles have easy access to the wash. But from the beginning to end of this short 2 mile hike to the north, I followed fresh motorcycle tire prints. While I understand some people think this portion of the Owyhee's is ugly and their own little playground to destroy...but damn it all!
There is no reason for a motorcycle (Fat Boy Type) or ATV to be off trail EVER. There are plenty of established roads in the Owyhee's that you can explore. You give the vast majority of ORV'ers a bad name. And eventually the crazy crunchy granola eating, ATV hating, conservationist groups will try to ban all ATV/motorcycle folks from this and all Idaho public lands. So do us all a favor...keep to the roads and trails when riding.
Why We Liked This Hike
The hike in my so called "Little Purjur Canyon/Wash was quite nice. My dog enjoyed getting out and running full bore for about 2 hours. We heard the howls of some coyotes, saw a few rabbits and signs of deer/antelope. We also encountered the ever present signs of the ranching industry in the form of 1,000's cow patties. I certainly enjoy using our public lands. BONUS: how often is it that one can enjoy a hike at the end of January without snowshoes or getting bogged down in muddy conditions. The Owyhee's are an amazing place to explore. One doesn't need to "get too far away from it all" to truly get away from it all.
Link to more pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/tim.bondy/LittlePurjurCanyonHike?feat=directlink
Leave a Comment
If you have any questions or answers, please leave me a comment. I only ask you read the entire article, use some common sense and if you just want to be an armchair critic, expect a blistering response to your comments.
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