My wife and I had a rare 2 consecutive days off together, a new dog who needed to be trail broken, and being our first winter in Portland, a need for some sunshine.
All this added up to my first desert hiking experience. We started at the mouth of the Lower Deschutes just East of The Dalles at Deschutes River State Recreation Area. Since we were breaking in our new 9 lb long haired chihuahua (Yes, you read that right) we started out on the old railbed and figured we'd stop when the little guy quit at one of the many campsites the rafters use, then use the more scenic riverside trail on the way back.
It was a sunshiny paradise as we hiked straight into the sun and enjoyed the 50 degree cloudless weather along the flat service road.
Turned out Tails (The Chihuahua) performed admirably! We stopped for lunch and a geocache about three miles in and he wasn't even beginning to get tired yet. Pisgah was his usual curious self and seemed to be enjoying the sun as well.
The scenery was just awesome to me the whole way as I'm not accustomed to this very Southwestern looking terrain. The river never left our sight and we enjoyed interesting rock formations one right after another.
We also saw several osprey along the route. Our goal was to get to the first old boxcar 6ish miles in and then camp. Along the way we saw down below a campsite that HAD to be ours, and so at the turnoff to head down to it we went ahead and dropped packs and went on to the boxcar.
Our campsite from afar
The campsite didn't disappoint. It was situated on a little peninsula that jutted out into the river with a really interesting rock formation that made a fantastic natural fireplace. The really cool part about this site is that only one tent fits, and so even during rafting season I'd be surprised to find anyone down there.
Home Sweet Home
The boys (Pisgah and Tails) really enjoyed all the nice soft grass to play and wrestle in. The site is also situated right next to a class 2+ rapid that drowned out any train noise late at night.
On the way home we hung a left off the service road once we got back into the state park boundary and took the river trail back to the trailhead, and I'm glad we did. The rolling grassy hills reminded me slightly of my old stomping grounds in Western North Carolina (until I looked up and saw the canyon walls at least).
Very enjoyable trip, perfect for winter since you get some sun. The canyon was coooooold overnight but with our 2 person sleeping bag and 2 little dogs sharing it, we stayed nice and cozy.