The Kleinschmidt Grade… OR

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

I actually spelled it correctly here, wrong on the map!… too late. One has to really look at the Google map to realize how this road was cut through the mountain adjacent to the Snake River, not too far from Hells Canyon dam. It looks menacing from the bottom, I even asked the locals on its conditions, well, your grand ma’s Buick could easily make it through! Actually when the mines across the river where still active, trucks used it.


So that was not what I had to overcome, I have a severe case of vertigo, at the same time I did want to stop for pictures, my stomach only caught up with me once on the flat a few miles up the start. I kept telling Spirit that it was going to be OK… he never reassured me, but, it was one way for me to make it to the top talking to him… and glad that no one was around to hear it.


One, I hope, goes through life with pieces of a dream, the little pieces, part of the big dream. I have always known what the big one was, is, some pieces have been lost for ever, but I still try to catch up with the ones that will more likely help me keep this web of life together. I cannot give up, no matter what, the wishes that have been pronounced not too long ago.

One of the pieces of this big lifelong puzzle was always to find a town, an area or region where I would feel at home. Not that I would settle in as that is just not my character, but a nest where I could come back to recharge the batteries, to as they say, lay low,get into that zone where all can be just timeless and smooth.

That first area was Big Bend with the little town of Terlingua… where we are going back soon before the cold sets in around here. We were there about three weeks, same amount of time we will be here, and I still feel the magic that descended upon us. Going back will tell, the first time is always the best time!… they say? I don’t think I was wrong…

Halfway and surroundings is the second area, and how ironic that they are both just about geographically so far apart! A winter town and a summer town… This area, as I learned from watching a movie at the Hells Canyon little welcome center, is so full of history! Going way back to the 1800’s, when, as it happened sadly just about all over this country, Chief Joseph and his tribe were asked to leave…

Thirty years later the Pioneers started coming in waves and had the good fortune to be given some 160 acres of land each. The mines blossomed, that is when the cattle business died… Some families grew larger and so did their land, themselves finally moving when the children needed their education fulfilled.

And today, all is desolate… From the moment I left Hells Canyon Road to the town of Council, and you can look on the map, it is a long way through the mountains, about 40 miles, we did not come across a single soul, a single vehicle! The town of Cuprum? Population: 12

We have only scratched the surface of the existing roads here, some are still closed due to fire clean up crews. Easy roads to navigate on, I love its serene and peaceful effect on us, at the same time I cannot help feeling distraught knowing the past history of a civilization that lived here and lost it all, only because of the greed of the newcomers with the power of… firearms! How sad and disturbing…

The town of Council is a bit like Halfway, larger, many restaurants and on a busier road, 95, which took us back south to Cambridge. So I could not pass up a slice of pie… coconut cream?… chocolate cream? Peach?… or, yes!… banana cream pie!!! Delicious, so together… will double up on the cholesterol medication today… that episode of life has stepped into mine a while back.

Last night’s sunset, right at camp, was a great one, only had to take a couple steps for this picture. This one IS a high definition resolution one… I cannot help still playing with that software! Spirit had a great day, and you will never believe this… he now LEANS in the curves! It has been a few days, I keep looking at him from the corner of my eye (the right one!), thinking it has been just a fluke… but… he truly is!!! I need to try to set up a video camera sometime soon…You be well….                                                               

Ara & Spirit  

——————————————————————————————- You contributions are what will keep this site alive… PayPal above, snail mail below…

Ara Gureghian 853 Vanderbilt Beach Rd #245 Naples Fl 34108

Thank you…


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6 Responses to “The Kleinschmidt Grade… OR”

  1. Froggi Donna Says:

    Today’s blog sucked me in…big time. Great photos, greater narrative. I so look forward to the day I can ride some of these roads. Thank you for taking the time to share….

  2. Ronn Says:


    Let me know when you and Spirit make it back to Terlingua. I would love to ride down and meet/visit with the both of you.

  3. TexasShadow Says:

    Ara, you have found the magic of the high deserts of Oregon and Idaho 🙂
    It’s like another world all to its own, so peaceful and lovely. You may feel like an alien when you get back to civilization. But it gets mighty cold during the winters; they are harsh there.

    BTW, the only issue I have with the HD renditions is that the images are too sharp. The gradual blur of the background gives photos their sense of depth and field. Like in reality. Otherwise they lose that sense of depth and along with that, their ‘realness’.

    Looking forward to seeing you and Spirit in the Big Bend desert this winter!

  4. Chad Ruger Says:

    I loved these pictures. My friends and I were actually working in summer 2007 and the gps we were following took us through the pass. It was insane! We had a big F250 and a trailer full of chemical, and it was probably one of the scariest, but prettiest moments of my life. I can’t believe we made it through without falling off the edge but we did have time to stop and take some pictures and take in the view. I hope to take my family through there one day. Thanks for documenting it here on your blog!

  5. John Burton Says:

    Hi Your site is great in 1998 we were following the Oregan trail and stopped in Cascade ,( I think ) for an overnight rest ,an old timer showed us on the map the best way to get to hell’s Canyon ( which my wife said she wanted to visit ) and we ended up going through Council, New Medows etc and then Kleinschmidt Grade A journey we will never forget ,fantastic ,terrifing , auwsome, amaising, not enouge words to explain our feelings of fear and jaw dropping views. we had a good drink at the bottom to replace the liquid’s we had lost and wrung our clothes out , we took a photo of the barn you have on your website, in 1998 it was still standing in all its glory what a shame to see it like it is . thank you for allowing us to relive one of our many amaising jorneys across your country , John & Ann Burton 2 old timers ourselves now from England

  6. Kelly Says:

    Great post and pictures, Ara. I was lucky enough to have spent my early years in Council. I worked for local ranches and did Forest Service work in many of the areas you took pictures at! The one of the high prairie and the Eagle Cap Mts in Oregon in the background is OX ranch land – I’ve always wanted a cabin with that same view since I was young. I went to school with the kids from Cuprum and Bear, and hunted and fished all around there. Someday I’ll return……. Thanks

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