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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