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2010 Owyhee Hallowed Weenies 2010 Owyhee Hallowed Weenies

2010 Owyhee Hallowed Weenies
Images by Merri

Stories: This Ain't No Highway || The Owl Grotto

The Owl Grotto in the Wind Caves

Day 1 - Birch Creek

Day 2 - Wild Horse Butte

Photos by Vicki Gaebe

The Owl Grotto - Merri Melde

Wednesday October 19 2011

I hike back to the Wind Caves today to finish marking the Birch Creek trail for the Owyhee Hallowed Weenies endurance ride over Halloween.The big advantage of doing it on foot and not horseback is, I can explore the nooks and crannies of Wind Cave Canyon.

Jose would have loved it, but he wouldn't have fit. I climb over and under and in and around the twisting labyrinthine canyon, squeezing between boulders, ducking under overhangs, skirting caves, scrambling up the smooth sandstone (? In one of my next lives I'm going to come back as a geologist), sliding down walls into deeper chambers - and hoping I can get out the other side, because I can't crawl up and over the walls.

It must be spectacular in here in a heavy rainfall. I can imagine it, watching sheltered in one of the little caves above, as the water, racing the miles downhill from the Owyhee mountains, gathering speed and power and purpose, finds this wash and slams into this canyon, raging and squeezing through the narrowing rock walls in a violent clash, funneling roaring waterfalls, sluicing up sand and heaving it downstream, shoving boulders, swirling up the canyon walls, gouging out more hollows, caving in more of the walls, all of it whirling into the downward-racing maelstrom.

There are myriad caves in the canyon walls of this Wind Cave Canyon...


This Ain't No Highway - Merri Melde

Tuesday October 18 2011

It used to be, a nice smooth packed sand highway-wash (the Birch Creek drainage) that the horses could cruise several miles up, past the Wind Caves, and on up into the Birch Creek Canyon narrows.

There was actually running water in this drainage this spring, something nobody around here has ever seen. Mother Nature was very busy doing a lot of rearranging and restructuring. Crevasses here. Piles of deep sand there. Miniature canyons here. A solid foundation of rock there. Last week we got dumped on with heavy rain which probably helped sculpt more desert drainage artwork. The smooth Birch Creek wash highway is gone. It will be many, many years, decades... centuries?... before it's back to the way it used to be, if it ever is.

Just think of the power of water that removed up to 3 feet deep of sand, sometimes 10 feet wide, in places. A lot of it washed down here, right to the area we used to have our vet check and the start of the LD ride for one of the days of the Hallowed Weenies 2-day endurance ride over Halloween. We had trouble with rigs getting stuck in here when it was a firm highway of sand. Nobody's going to be parking on here this year.