Playa Residency - Part 3 (Crack in the Ground)

I bounced along the gravel road with constant washboards, driving only 5-10 mph in my daughter’s Nissan Versa hatchback. The car was rattling and so were my nerves. Heading to a remote location in the Oregon desert, alone, was probably not one of the wisest decisions I had made. After several miles are bone-jarring road, I thought that maybe I should turn back. But then, I had come this far, I might as well keep on going.

The directions I had said after about 4.4 miles, turn left. In the desert, there are no signs. At the indicated distance, I saw a dirt road. But I didn’t think it looked like the road I should take (not that I had ever been there before). I kept going and saw another, which also didn’t seem right to me. Then, I saw an RV and campsite. I decided to stop and ask for confirmation that I was heading the right way. I knocked on the RV door. It was midday and nobody answered.

I decided to see if my phone would be able to get any reception. Fortunately for me, it did, (since cell phone reception was iffy in that remote area)! I looked at Google maps and it showed me that I needed to just continue straight down the road. (I don’t know why my book directions said to turn left, unless they just meant the road curved left.) Eventually, I saw a truck, an outhouse and a man. I pulled up and asked the man, who was a BLM worker, if I was in the right place. He pointed behind me to the trailhead. Phew! I had finally made it to Crack in the Ground.

Crack in the Ground is just what it sounds like. It is a volcanic fissure down in the ground. I headed down the trail and eventually saw a sign-in station. Since I was alone, the first thing I did was sign in on the sheet. Then, trying to decide which trail to take, as there were a couple, I ran into a few guys who pointed me in the direction they thought was best and warned me about the snake (not poisonous) that I would eventually encounter on the path. I said thanks and started to climb down over the boulders into the crack.

 

Crack in the Ground (central Oregon)

 

It was a warm, sunny, late September day with the temperature at about 80 degrees. At the bottom of the fissure, the temperature was much cooler. That is why I couldn’t understand why the snake was down there. I came upon him and he did not move (yes, it was still alive), even when I had to step over him to continue on.

 

 

Crack in the Ground (central Oregon)

 

Continuing along the deep path, there were some areas where I had to climb over or under boulders. There were some spots where I had to squeeze sideways with my backpack on. The trail I was on didn’t seem to go too far and eventually led up to level ground. Reaching that point, I turned around and went back into the fissure the way I had come.

 

 

Crack in the Ground (central Oregon)

 

Crack in the Ground (central Oregon)

 

Along the way, I found some areas with smooth rock that had interesting patterns.

 

Crack in the Ground (central Oregon)

At one point, I stopped and did a sketch in my sketchbook.

 

Crack in the Ground (central Oregon)

Crack in the Ground sketch by Lisa Flowers Ross.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The snake was still there as I returned to my starting point. I did not walk the entire two miles of length of the fissure. I think I experienced the deepest part that you could walk through. It was time to go back to the car and make the return drive to Playa, where I was an artist-in-residence. I was not looking forward to the eight miles of washboards on the way out! Next time, I would visit with a companion and an SUV.

 

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2 comments to Playa Residency – Part 3 (Crack in the Ground)

  • Wow! That sounds fascinating. I like that you went back through the way you had come. Things look different from the return perspective. and you discover more that you had missed because it was behind you.
    Those smooth marks are amazing!
    Sandy in the UK