Oregon's "Big Empty"
The Southeast corner of the Beaver State has often been referred to as Oregon's Outback. An expansive land of massive fault block mountains, sprawling alkali lakes, lush canyons and sun-baked flats, and only a handful of human inhabitants, the monicker is appropriate. And while this region may be devoid of settlements and forests-it teems with flora and fauna-including a handful of species endemic only to this corner of the state.
The most notable landmark of the region is Steens Mountain, a 30 mile long escarpment that rises a mile over the surrounding countryside. Recently classified as a cooperative management area-with large tracts of wilderness-Steens is a wild land that begs to be explored. I recently wrote two features on Steens-one on hiking it-and one on running it. Check out http://outdoorsnw.com/c_editorial/pursuits_hdr_hiking.cfm for the story I wrote for Outdoors NW on hiking in this region. In this month's Northwest Runner I wrote a feature on running in southeast Oregon. Steens Mountain hosts the Rim Run, the highest 10K in the Northwest-where a handful of intrepid runners partake in a lung-busting journey on the Steens Mountain Road to cross a finish line at 9,600 feet above sea level.
Check these stories out so that you can get your fill of the Big Empty!