Sunday, August 24, 2014

North Fork of John Day River backpack: Day One

What better way to celebrate turning 60 than to go for a 60-mile hike in the woods!

Our dear friends, Dorothy and Ken Jenson decided to join Mark and me on our wilderness adventure.

Ken chose the wilderness trail along the North Fork of the John Day River in northeast Oregon.

We drove from Portland via Pendleton to Ukiah, Oregon. We spent the first night at a roadside campground south of Ukiah. It was a good "shakedown" night, especially since were getting used to new packs. Switching from our old external-frame packs to our new internal-frame packs felt like getting acquainted with a new friend.

The next morning we stopped at the Ukiah ranger station and stopped for a last look over the landscape before heading down Road 55 to the North Fork of the John Day River.

We took Road 5506 to the trailhead. Road 5506 has 2 roadside campgrounds plus several pull-out spots  where people were camped. We parked just past the 2nd campground, Orient Campground, where the road had a "not maintained" sign.

We hiked 4 miles along the road.  I had thought we would go further the first day since we were fresh, but honestly, it was a challenge to hike in the warm afternoon with our loaded packs. Mark and I were both carrying right around 40 pounds.

When we saw a grassy meadow on the right, next to the river, we decided to stop for the night. Rain was threatening, so we were grateful when Mark pulled out his new lightweight Silco tarp. We named named our campsite the "Blue Jeans Camp" for a pair of blue jeans hanging there.

Day one of the 60x60 backpack trip along the North Fork of the John Day River.
August 12, 2014


Hillary said...

This is Josh - So fun! I love all the pics! Thanks for sharing!

Julia Taylor said...

Looks like a great start to the trip!

Rodney Mruk said...


I am considering hiking from the trailhead right by Oriental Campground on the NF John Day river like you. But I heard the road to the campground was not suitable for cars or low clearance vehicles. Since you were there in the past year, perhaps you can give me an idea of the condition of the road. You may email me at