As mentioned in previous posts, Steens Mountain in Harney County, Oregon, is the largest fault block mountain in the world. This view from the east, or escarpment side, shows the 5000 vertical foot face which rose along the fault line creating the majestic series of peaks shown here. The other side, the west-facing slope, contains the snow pack which runs off into Malheur lake, the 50,000 – 100,000 acre fresh water marsh which is the heart of the Malheur National Wildlife refuge–just about to reopen to the public following the occupation by armed militia. This area just to the east of the escarpment face, called the Alvord Playa or Desert, is the driest region of Oregon, as the mountain extracts almost all of the moisture from the atmosphere as it flows from the west and rises over the top of the 9000 foot high ridge, condensing its contained moisture as it goes. This small region in the desert hosts a stream which runs off the mountain and supports the sage and rabbit brush and lone tree seen in the photo. The reddish line is the row of willows growing along the stream. My photographic mentor, the late Leonard Conkling, showed me this area where we enjoyed many tailgate picnics and photographic compositional exercises over many years. click on image to enlarge.