Ochoco National Forest
Elevation: 4,377 Feet
Rising like a mighty, tuft welded...yeaaah, out of the forest, Stein's Pillar is this really odd rock formation in the middle of the Ochoco National Forest. The pillar is composed of rhyolite ash produced by eruptions from the Cascades that settled in an inland sea and compacted to stone – a natural process that apparently also spawned another impressive pillar in central Oregon, specifically Monkey Face. (thanks to Mazamas Library in Portland, Oregon for that tidbit). It was named after Major Enoch Steen and then misspelled throughout history after that. Which would piss me off because if I was going to put something down in history, the least they could do was get it right. I mean, the guy's name was Enoch, not the most popular name to begin with. Technically, the first Enoch was the eldest son of Caan, the blacksheep of the biblical first family. Major Enoch needed something! I bet in those biblical days calling someone a major Enoch was quite an insult.
Tanis was down with Linda's parents for the beginning month of summer and I had been itching to get out on a trail. Linda and I got up early and drove out through Prineville, Oregon and into the Ochoco National Forest. Tanis found out about this hike while he was gone and a full month and a half later has yet to let us live it down. That kid can't remember what you said two seconds ago, but slight him in the most minute way and we will never let it go. And no matter how much we promise that we will take him on the hike, he still brings it up like we are dead to him until we do.
As we were driving on the dirt road to the trailhead, we got behind an older, large Winabego doing about three miles per hour. I quickly passed it, legally and with a courteous birth on the left. After passing it we missed the trailhead turn off, I turned around and drove back, again passing the Winabego. Now, I don't know what he had against people passing his slow, wide ass, but he actually swerved at me like he was going to hit me. Why? Hell, I don't know! He was just some crazy crackah who had something against people not wanting to wait on him. When we were at the top of Stein's Pillar, I saw the Winabego sitting in the parking lot of Gaperville and gave him a full shot of my white, magic butt.
It was a goregeous day and with the very low temperatures so far, we almost had to have jackets on in the beginning in order to stay warm. It is a very gentle hike, a great one to get the summer started with. The two miles are relatively flat and the views from the hike are pretty subdued. Most of the hiking books call it a moderate hike, but I think it should be easy. Off in the distance you could see the three sisters still capped with its winter coat of snow. The meadows were filled with blooming flowers and green grass. Those same meadows would turn brown and shrivel up the flowers as the summer heats hit them in the coming months.
We reached the base of the pillar and could see an inscription scraped into the rock from 1800's tha can still be seen if you look around. We ate lunch in the little cave at the base and fooled around with the timer on Linda's camera. We found that all the pictures we took were just a little too distant, but it was still fun hitting the timer and then running to a good spot only to find that our location was too far and the picture was of our ass running away from the camera.