Day two photographing the Palouse had Lee and I back up on Steptoe Butte to shoot the sunrise. That meant waking up at 4:40am to get up there in time. It was however most certainly worth it. We got to witness a spectacular deep red sky as the valley woke up below us. As the sun started to rise higher into the sky, we departed the Butte.
We decided we would try another hill in the area. It was apparently a local park, and accessible via road. I had a star on the lookout in Google Maps, so we decided to just follow the directions Google gave us. A note on Google Maps in rural areas, they are often extremely wrong!
We followed the directions down a several dirt roads (this is nothing unusual as most of the roads in this area are dirt). Each road we took appeared to get a little more narrow, until eventually we felt we were driving down someones driveway. As we passed the last farmhouse on the road we were on, a pack of angry (and unfed looking) dogs came charging behind us barking up a storm. I could just picture in my head an angry farmer running out with his gun yelling at us Canadians to “GET OFF HIS PROPERTY”.
Shortly after the farmhouse the road hit a dead end. There was an even smaller branch that broke off just after the farmhouse. Feeling adventurous we decided to give it a shot. This road soon turned from road, to 4 ATV trail. Not wanting to turn back we followed the switchbacks up the hill. A few times the wheels of the van were precariously close to the edge of the 50 foot dropoff to our left. Eventually we popped up on top of the hill and made it to what we thought was our destination!
Lee and I explored the top of this hill. Got to see a family of deer go jumping through the tall grass, and got a really good view into the valley below. We discovered that on top of the hill was a cell tower, that was gated off. We also discovered there were “No Trespassing” signs every direction we looked!
Close to the cell tower was another road that appeared to go back down to the main road. We decided this was probably the safest way down the hill. We followed it down, despite the road quickly degrading into a washed out slope. We had to angle our way over some treacherous rocky spots, but eventually made it back down. As we were coming down to the main road we came upon a big steel gate to the road, beside an equally angry looking house.
The gate of course was locked. We looked at the house. Shingles falling off, front lawn littered with old relics of vehicles, no trespassing signs everywhere. Yup this was not a place we wanted to be knocking on the front door of.
We turned back around, headed slowly up the road, and found ourselves on top of the hill again. We drove around through the grassy field atop looking for any safer way down, but eventually came to the conclusion the only way down was the way we came up. Slowly but surely we made it back down the hill. A few times Lee had to hop out and spot me to make sure I wasn’t going to go over the bank, but we made it!
The dogs chased us out barking at fever pitch, as we punched it by the old house on our way out of the area. I am sure the owners of both farmhouses would have helped us out had we asked, but the fact we were two Canadians, clearly trespassing, in such unfriendly territory (well what we perceived on very little sleep) we decided to err on the side of caution.
As for the rest of our day? We explored an old ghost town, got lost in some canola fields, and scoped out Palouse Falls!