Stillness, fresh snow, and the warmth of the sun greeted us near the Steens Mountain Pass. The descent into the Eastern valley was glorious, presenting a vast land untouched except for a road threaded across. Another set of hills brought us onto a rolling steppe reminiscent of the Gobi and Western China. Its frigid crosswinds led us to the abandoned Burns Junction and a lunch among its decrepit buildings.
Onward on Hwy 95 we pushed along what seemed to be a never ending straight line of asphalt. The landscape shifted to fit the bleak, grey clouds hanging above. What was once sage and grass land had become a dreary mud pit as far the eye could see, broken only by the charred stumps and trash. We later learned that this was the site of a massive fire, almost the largest in recorded history save for the efforts of the BLM.
Darkness approaching and running low on liquid water, temperatures barely rose above freezing the whole day, we resolved to push on until we had crossed the burned wasteland. Miles later lights in the distance drew our attention and begged investigation.