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The Big Jack’s Wilderness area encompasses over 52,000 acres of the remote Owyhee Desert, part of the west’s vast Basin and Range. Vegetation consists mostly of bunch grasses and sagebrush. A few remote ruins record hard lives eked out by early settlers to the area.The ancient remains of this apple tree mark the stone ruins of the Al Sade homestead.

The skeleton of this apple tree marks the stone ruins of the Al Sade homestead.

IMG_3465I found the Al Sade name in BLM documents, but could find no personal history. The red rock was carefully cut and hauled from a red hill about half a mile away from this site. How many back breaking trips did that require? Who lived here? How many children were born or died here? What stories do this rocks hold dear?

The area is named for the Big Jack’s River that sometimes runs through it and drains into the larger Bruneau River, then ultimately into the Snake River. I visited this area during the first week in April of a record dry year. We walked about four miles up the dry river bed before finding fresh flowing water which seemed to simply dive underground at its terminus. Poison ivy decorates the river bed.IMG_3493

I have no idea what this “fence” is for. It is bolted right into the rock.

Rhyolite and basalt rock walls rise up to 700 feet in some areas.  Twisted, jointed, and whorled rock testify to the horrendous forces of earth’s core.Oops. I didn't notice the graphic porn when I framed the pictures.

Oops. I didn’t notice the graphic porn when I framed the pictures.

IMG_3483Bigfoot's adjustable wrench, perhaps?

Bigfoot’s adjustable wrench, perhaps?

IMG_3552IMG_3551Cracks and caves provide inviting hideouts for animals and perhaps people as well.A pile of poop just outside the door of this cave says something about its inhabitants.

A pile of poop just outside the door of this cave says something about its inhabitants.

IMG_3539The inside is littered with picked-clean food scraps.

And if the pile of poop weren't warning enough, this limb, perched ominously on a rock in front of the cave veritably shouts a warning.

And if the pile of poop weren’t enough, this limb, perched ominously on a rock in front of the cave veritably shouts a warning.

Happily, I made it out with all my limbs intact. And I learned a few things about my iPhone camera.