The Crack in the Ground in Christmas Valley expedition was different than most of the Posse expeditions. That is why we chose it. Sometimes it’s a good idea to shake things up to see how things will shape up. This time instead of going up, we went down, but not a long way down, only a couple of feet. The Crack in the ground is just that, a crack in the ground. Let’s get into this thing and stop the jibber jabber.
The Crack, I will refer to it as the Crack because we all know by now that the crack is in the ground. And you would get just as tired of reading the whole thing as I would typing it. Plus, my typing skills aren’t great, so the less words I have to write the better. You see how I spent two sentences explaining how I will refer to the Crack in the Ground as the Crack? That’s how my brain works, it’s like there’s a crack in my brain and all the linear, sensible thought that should happen, falls into the crack and leaves me with brain wander. That could be why I enjoyed the Crack as much as I did, the whole time we were in the crack, I was on a separate, trippy brain journey. The tumbled down rocks were all my thoughts falling in on themselves. We climbed over those rocks as I climb over random thoughts. If you ever visit the crack, think about how these physical places can be pictures of ourselves and our lives. I think as we travel to more and more locations, the more and more we can see ourselves in those places and appreciate them and maybe ourselves too.
The crack is only a couple of hours from Redmond and the drive is quite enjoyable. Myself and the other two men who make up the Travelers Three, Jose and Apolo, always have good conversation on the drive to and from the expeditions. This time we talked about how Jose and myself cannot utter certain words because we are married, while Apolo can blurt them out whenever he pleases. For example, two words we cannot say are Hot and woman in reference to another female beside our wives. We even concluded that thinking the words is to put our lives on the line. I say this to say that if there are any of the aforementioned people reading this, Apolo is single and wouldn’t mind meeting you so one day he won’t be able to say those words about anyone but you. We talked about dating apps, and that me and Jose would help Apolo out by telling any women we saw on the trail that he had a question for them, and let the fun begin. What would the question be? That question moved us along quite a few miles down the highway.
We made our first stop of the day at Fort Rock. It’s way out in the Oregon Outback and is worth a few beads of sweat if you are on your way to The Crack. It was still early so we had the rock to ourselves for most of our visit. We took the loop inside the rock and climbed a few places off trail for a different perspective. As we stood at the rim overlooking the valley, we continued our conversation about hot and woman. Since it was starting to warm up, Apolo asked if we could use the words to describe a woman that was actually hot. Like hot from the sun. Jose and I took only moments to let Apolo know that this was also forbidden. Jose said that if there was another woman around where he and his wife were and she looked like she was dealing with being overheated, like heat stroke, he would be putting himself on the “hot seat” to say, “That lady looks like she is really hot, could you go over and see if she is ok?”
"If you think she's so hot why don't you have her cook you up some flapjacks on her hot body?"
That's a sentence I don't ever want to hear. I am in the mood for some fluffy pancakes with strawberry syrup all of a sudden though.
Then it turned to cool. Can we say a woman looks cool? Nope. As you can see ladies, Apolo is a blank canvas ready to learn. Of course we were exaggerating but the point has been made. Marriage, for both men and women, can be described as a line in the sand. There are things that you do on one side of the line that you don’t do on the other. Better yet, marriage is like a crack in the ground. Once you walk in, you best get ready to climb over some obstacles and take your time if you need to because if you don’t you might end up waking up a bat sleeping in one of the deeper crevices in the crack and have that thing fly out and get caught in your hair. It’s no place for the weak hearted. It’s for the adventurers. So we left Fort Rock as the sun was starting to make everyone underneath it hot, Except for the women, there were no hot women underneath the sun, you hear that T?
We decided to make Fort Rock the first stop and then move onto the crack. Word had it that temperatures can be up to twenty degrees cooler in the crack and that sounded like the place to be on a day with triple digit temperatures forecast. The road from Christmas valley to the crack is washboard and slow going. It’s about five miles. The trailhead has a toilet and parking. No fees are required to visit to the crack.
The crack is about a half of a mile from the trailhead and when you reach it, it’s not at the end of the crack. I spent a little time wondering why they wouldn’t make the entrance at the end but after going both ways, I understood. If you go to the right, you will go into the most traveled part of the crack. To the left takes you into more rugged, harder terrain. We went right first. This is a fun place to visit. The crack can be deep and the temperatures do drop down there. The first time we felt the sweet reprieve of coolness, we acted like giant klondike bars and chilled out for a bit. We were only a few feet below the surface of the desert but it is very different. Instead of being dry and hot, it was cool and moist. Many times we remarked how it felt like we were in water. The crack meets the surface of the desert and then takes you back down, it’s like a wave. After moving through about half a mile, we came to a place where the sides had fallen in and blocked the way. We tried to get through but it wasn’t to be. We had to backtrack, walk along the top for a bit and find another place to re-enter. We came to another place where the path was blocked. This time, we were able to squeeze and climb our way over the obstacle. It made the hike more adventurous. After that we were able to walk to the end of the crack. The temperature was warming but we walked along the top back to the point we first entered the crack. We thought about not exploring the crack to the left but after a few minutes we decided that since we were already there we should go. It’s funny how quickly we can make a unique thing ordinary. It’s true that the crack does start to look the same and the first ooohs and aaahs go away. That doesn’t take away the fact that it is a spectacular place and the extra time to take it all in is time well spent.
We have discovered that we are blessed many times on our travels. Unexpected things happen just when we show up. I never expect something will happen, but I’m not surprised when they do. We were talking about not going into the other part of the crack when Apolo made the decision for us. We made our way in and the temperature really dropped. It was so refreshing down there, we took a break.
Our conversation was light and lively as we started up a rough section. The way left is not as traveled as the other and it’s easy to see why. There were fallen rocks in the way again and some light climbing was in order. I went first and climbed up to a little platform. Jose said that he noticed that there might be a bird nest right above me. Right on cue, something above me. I thought that it was rock falling, it was hawks. They swooped down on me. We started to get out of there because one of them was a youngster and the other full-grown. We thought for sure the big one was about to open a can of beat down with flashing claws and sharpened beak. There were three of us against the one and we were on the retreat. I was still on the platform and it would take me a minute to get down. I said, “Don’t leave me!”
I felt like the other guy in the old bear chase scenario. You don’t have to outrun the bear, you only have to outrun the other guy. I heard the menacing squawk of the big one behind me. Was it getting closer or moving away from us? Everything was happening so quickly, thoughts enter your mind and get pushed out just as fast by another one and none of them give you the warm fuzzy feels. Would the giant use it’s talons and slice me up like an apple or grab me and take me in the clouds and drop me and let the coyotes pick my bones dry? It was a bleak situation. In the meantime, the young one landed only a few feet from us. It just sat there looking at us. Since one doesn’t have many opportunities to be only inches away from a wild hawk, we stopped and talked with it and took some pictures. It is a beautiful bird and I'm thankful that we were able to share the same space with it for a few moments. The thoughts of my bloody demise were gone and we were giggling and happy as we decided to head back and leave the birds to their nests. It was a great experience. It was a great expedition.
We are known for making a plan and then trying to talk ourselves out of it. Sometimes it’s the change of plan that leads us into unexpected territory. It turns out that following the plan can be the way to cool stuff too. We got back to the car and started talking about where to next. The plan was to camp out at the Green Mountain campground a few miles away, but we started in with what else we could do, where should we go? Again it was Apolo that said we should go to the camp and check it out, if we didn’t like it, we could move on.
We got to the camp in the early afternoon and sat in the shade. For hours we debated with ourselves about staying or going. Jose has created an obsession that has spread through the group like a virus that may or may not be harmful. We probably should mandate masks and make everyone hole up in their houses for this one. It’s the in N out burger virus. Once you get affected by it your brain turns into something much more than what the burgers are made of and the only thing you can think about is the hamburger. We actually looked up how far it was from us to the closest in N out. If it would’ve been two hours or less, we would have been on the road for sure. It was a four-hour drive, that was too far. Finally, around four we decided to stay and we officially set up our tents and made some grub. We call it grub when we are out on the trail, any other time, it’s supper or dinner. The things we eat out there would classify as a terrible meal at home but we make due. If someone was to suggest I eat top ramen at home, I would think they had some sort of hamburger brain disorder. We discussed it over our meal and agree that the ramen has ran it’s course at camp too. Every once in awhile you have to retire certain food or drink and ramen may be about there. One thing that is still going strong is sour patch kids, if anyone ever asks me if I mind babysitting, I say not as long as the kids are of the sour patch variety.
After we finished eating, we hiked up to the top of East Green Mountain. From there we could see over to Green Mountain and the fire watch tower. Jose said he wanted to go over and see if we could go up and see the sights. Only problem is, there’s a chain link fence around it and locks on the gates. Still we climbed Green Mountain. Then it happened again. The person that works in the tower just happened to be down on the ground and walking our way. He came straight to the gate and said that we were welcome to go on up after he changed the fire level sign down at camp. We didn’t even have to ask, he invited us to go in.
Again me and Apolo were giggling, the only time I heard Jose giggle on this expedition was when he was playing sinister cards during UNO.
The lookout was something else. We were allowed on the catwalk around the outside of the building and made two trips around. The views were great and we asked the watchman many questions. We asked him how he deals with people trying to get into the tower uninvited and we kept asking questions about it. Jose said that we should end that line of questioning because it was starting to make us a bit suspicious. Another thing to add on to the list of bonus footage that we have enjoyed on our expeditions. We all agreed that sticking to the plan was the right decision this time around.
Once darkness arrived we drove back to the top of East Green and started taking pictures of the stars. Soon Jose discovered that he could take a selfie with the stars in the background, how cool! The only thing is, you have to stay super still during the shot, which is thirty seconds. We must have spent an hour, maybe more, trying to get the best group selfie shot in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. We had a blast with it. Tough guy poses in front of the most anti-tough guy car in the world, The Scion. The mark of a good expedition is seeing things that fill you with amazement and getting to act like a kid again. We try so hard to grow up only to try so hard to feel young again.
Over the last three years, while on climbs to mountains and canyons, I have turned to see Jose and Apolo there too. We are The Travelers Three. You never know who will come into your life and when and why. To wonder to much about it would take away the spark of it. These two men are a blessing. They are good friends. They have the heart of a lion and the flowing hair too. Well, maybe not the flowing hair, and if they did I wouldn’t know. Dudes don’t look at other dudes hair. Wait... What? I don’t know, let’s just leave it there. My brain is back in The Crack in the Skull.
When a woman smart enough comes along to snatch up Apolo, she better let him come on these expeditions with us, or better yet, join us. The Peak Posse is always ready to welcome another adventurer. And UNO can be played by a whole mess of people. That may be a new tradition on the trail, we are always restless at camp, UNO was the perfect way to pass the time.
Did I mention that Apolo is single and ready to mingle? I think I did. If not, here goes. “Ladies, I know you are looking for a God-fearing man that will treat you like you should be treated. He was not afraid to climb into the actual Crack in the Ground and if we learned anything from this story it’s that marriage is quite similar to it. When you need a place that’s away from the scorching heat of the world, you can saunter down into the earth a few feet and find refreshment. Don’t worry that the walls look like they may cave in and entomb you, they have been there for hundreds of years and it’s not in a high seismic area, that means not so many earthquakes. And if the bats get a little too close and gets caught up in your hair and you have to go bald for awhile, Apolo will be right there beside you taking midnight selfies. What more could a God-fearing woman ask for?”
Although we didn’t run into the future wife of Apolo during the Crack in the Ground expedition, we enjoyed more of the Good Lords handiwork and the company that the Posse brings. I suggest this as a good place for families and people that don’t want a strenuous trail. It’s not too far from home and could be done in a day. The middle of summer may not be the most optimal time but if you hit it early in the day, you’ll be ok. This expedition is part of the Trio 2021 and if you decide to visit, you will have earned the right to own The Crack in the Ground patch. It’s a good one to start your Trio patch collection.
Up next is a doozy, The Timberline Trail.
Until then, stay safe out there…….