A Final Day in the Hills of the Palouse

Friday, October 145696-palouse4-2As predicted, rain arrived early on Thursday. It was rarely heavy but was steady all day. We could have gone out on another backroad excursion, but the thought of driving those now muddy dirt roads did not appeal. We were ready for a down day anyway and used the time to catch up on image editing and blogging. Yesterdays weather forecast said steady rain for the next four days, so we were thinking we would leave the Palouse tomorrow (Friday) and head south. The latest forecast said partly cloudy morning, cloudy and windy later.5693-palouse4-1I convinced Mary to leave open the possibility of it being just the kind of morning light we would most like to have, and be willing to go out for the morning and stay one last night in Colfax. It turned out just that way. We woke to a partly clearing sky and calm winds. One more time we ventured out.

The steady rain restricted where we were willing to go. Some of the best roads for views are little more than dirt paths cut into the landscape. The are mostly used by the wheat farmers to access their fields and are often steep and, when wet, very slippery.5706-palouse4-5We drove back out to an area northwest of Colfax where we left off Wednesday. On the way to our turnoff, we passed an overturned big rig on the side of the road. It looked like it had just happened. Just a couple of state troopers, a few flares and an extremely dejected guy sitting on a rear wheel. Might have been a combination of speed, a curve and last nights heavy winds.5698-palouse4-3We managed to create a route that stayed primarily on the better graveled roads that wind through the hills here. We came acreoss a few muddy areas, but not enough to turn us back. We found more winter wheat sprouting in strips here that traced the contours of the hills.5703-palouse4-4The light through the clouds was really great. Sometimes it would break through and illuminate individual hills. It constantly changed. It just took some patience to get nicely lit compositions.5708-palouse4-6 5713-palouse4-7 5714-palouse4-8I found myself including much more sky in my compositions. The presence of these clouds have allowed me to widen the scene. The images become less abstract, but the fields now are seen a little more in scale and context. I still made abstract images, but kept making the sky a larger part of the picture.5727-palouse4-9 5730-palouse4-10 5746-palouse4-11 5767-palouse4-12We finished our morning at the crest of one of the many rolling hills that define this place. During our time out, it had gradually gotten so windy we could barely hold cameras still. We sat and watched while the wind-blown clouds raced across the land. In the distance, Steptoe Butte rose over everything.5776-palouse4-13

Returning to our fairground campsite, we noticed it had gotten much more populated. There were at least 15 rigs now, We speculated that it could be the Washington Cougar homecoming game in Pullman – they come from miles around to attend – or perhaps hunters. I noticed it was mostly men, some in camo, then Mary asked one women what was up, and was told this was the only weekend for deer hunting in the Palouse. On our way south, we saw a few little orange dots out in the fields – hunters in their vests. We also saw several bucks tied to roof racks, and one strung up by it’s hind legs being “dressed”, out behind a shack along the highway. A good time to leave.

We are heading out to Walla Walla tomorrow. The forecast days of rain ahead mean the Palouse probably won’t dry out anytime soon. We wanted to stay a few days longer, but decided to start heading toward John Day to visit the Painted Hills section of the John Day Fossil Beds there. We will stop in Walla Walla for a day for chores, or maybe longer if the weather gets bad.

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One Response to A Final Day in the Hills of the Palouse

  1. Your photos did a great job of bringing out the uniqueness of the Palouse topography. I miss it!

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