Monday’s Meanders: Remembering Kah-Nee-Ta in the High Desert

I’m not a great lover of very hot weather unless there is a cooling breeze or and shade trees under which to take refuge (or perhaps a swimming pool nearby). I have visited the Southwest several times and even camped in the desert. Yet I preferred to move along to the next stop after a short time, the intense dry heat and empty landscape seeming forbidding.

Then I moved to Oregon at age 42 and not long after discovered it’s high desert. It felt like another experience altogether, magnetic and beautiful. It is the severity of sand swept, bare earth coupled with a variety of life that thrives; it is the everlasting sky into which thrust ancient rocky prominences; it is a wind that sears and sings and a sun that tolerates no weakness, foolishness. It immediately enthralled me. Central Oregon’s high desert remains a favorite place to visit.

In June of 2013, Marc and I visited the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon when we stayed a week-end at the tribal-owned Kah-Nee-Ta Resort. Little did we imagine that in 2018, it would be closed due to financial difficulties. I’m happy we had the chance to stay and explore the area some (also had fun during an attempt at kayaking together in one kayak on a short trip on Warm Springs River…but perhaps not again). Today I am revisiting those good moments.

A partial view of Kah-Nee-Ta Resort

We had gone for a work event with a new employer, but what I recall is a deep quietude of the land, air, sky. Stillness and then swift wind, silence and sounds I can’t well describe. It felt saturated with ancient time, people, sufferings, wonders.

Mt. Jefferson of the Cascade Range

As evening fell, the scenarios were even more captivating, perhaps, than daytime when our skin easily burned and vision seemed dimmed by the brilliant light even with sunglasses on–though each held unique pleasures. After dinnertime each night we sat on the room’s balcony, watched the orb of sun lower over the ridges, captivated–and then suddenly fierce, still-heat-burnished winds rushed around and over all.

And finally a deep mystery of indigo sky to dwarf us…