Admittedly, winter is not my most prolific photography season. Cold, darkness and unpredictable weather often get the better of my psyche and I find myself making excuses or prioritizing office work. However, once or twice a winter I do manage to gear up and head someplace windswept and snowy with my camera. This winter Chuck Porter, one of my oldest and best friends, and I spent a couple days exploring the lonesome high desert in the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge. Back when we were more energetic Chuck and I spent a lot of time climbing cliffs and mountains all over the western US and spurring each other on to complete questionable feats of endurance. Once we hiked the entire length of the Wild and Scenic Rogue River Trail, all 40 plus miles, in a day. Another time we climbed Mt. Shasta, Mt. McLoughlin and Mt. Thielsen in a 21 hour push. These days we are happy just to get out and camp for a weekend and do a little ski touring.
Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is a national wildlife refuge on Hart Mountain in southeastern Oregon, which protects more than 422 square miles and more than 300 species of wildlife, including pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, mule deer, sage grouse, and redband trout. The refuge, created in 1936 as a range for remnant herds of pronghorn antelope, spans habitats ranging from high desert to shallow playa lakes, and is among the largest wildlife habitats containing no domestic livestock. Located in a remote region of southeastern Oregon at an elevation over 6,000 feet, Hart Mountain is a wild and desolate place any time of year. In winter, blanketed by snow, it becomes a quite and seemingly endless surreal landscape.
During our visit, Chuck and I skied through a couple of different areas, both very small in the total scale of the refuge. We talked about coming back one winter and skiing all the way across, but we'll see if I ever get the winter motivation to take that on. The two areas we explored on this visit were the hot springs basin below Warner Peak and Petroglyph Lake.Â Petroglyph Lake is sheltered on one side by a low cliff band that houses several panels of Native American rock art.
Instead of going on at length about the skiing, sleeping in the car, eating bad food and all the other standard tales from a trip like this I'll just let the photos speak for themselves. You can click on each image to see it larger and then hit the back button to return to the article.