Owyhee Canyon

Snookered by rain the previous day we contemplated a return to Cedar Mountain. Rain was again forecast, so we thought better of another attempt.

With nowhere to race off to, we enjoyed our first relaxed morning. In the afternoon, we unhitched from Flicker and drove into Jordan Valley where we saw a great big No Monument sign at the town center. We soon met Hazel Fretwell-Johnson and toured her yard and home, heard many stories, and bought one of her five books, In Times Past. Hazel was a 98-year-old local. Her parents or grandparents had homesteaded (and were the namesake of) Danner, Oregon. She has two sons (one is a former Alaska fisherman and now an atlatl world-ranked thrower and another a local “millionaire” rancher) and a daughter (a principal at Arock school).

When we asked Hazel about the proposed monument, she stated the town’s firm opposition, explaining that the monument would mean no further grazing on public lands, which her son and ranchers in the area depend on.

While some monuments do restrict or eliminate grazing, not all do. In fact, the designation as a monument does not automatically prescribe any certain management policy. Because of this, it is not a forgone conclusion that grazing would be curtailed if the Owyhee were designated.

We also visited the memorial grave of Sacagawea’s son, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, and as requested by a friend, placed a gold dollar coin on his grave.

The next day we were greeted with another rainy forecast, so a trip to Cedar Mtn seemed out of the picture. We did make a quick run to the Owyhee Canyon overlook and to Three Forks, where the North, Middle and Main forks of the Owyhee meet. On our walk down to the river, we saw a rattle snake right in the trail. He was slow to move, clearly annoyed we were there. As we raced out of the canyon a storm rolled in and followed us back to Flicker for another rainy night.

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