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020214_8187 Gate Skull

I have lived where there are ground-shuddering electrical storms.  Places where winds howl, stripping shingles off in sheets; where rain slashes and lightening explodes followed by slam-to-your-knees thunder.

I wonder if this is what it was like in the moments before a bolt hit Hiram E. Leslie in Dugout Gulch.  Leslie was working cattle in a storm when he was killed by lightening. After his death in 1882, the area was renamed Leslie Gulch.


Leslie couldn’t have a more beautiful monument.  His name evokes a land of eroded volcanic ash, a canyon complex of hoodoos, honeycombed towers and arches.

All of this was hunting and fishing grounds for Native Americans 5000 year before Leslie came.


I follow the gravel road that was once the mail route between Rockville and Watson, Oregon and watch the canyon walls for bighorn sheep.  The side canyons beg to be explored and I stop several times before the road ends at the Owyhee River.

The sun drops and clouds gather.  There won’t be lightening this time, but it is winter and the threat of snow urges me homeward.