We hiked at Rowena Dell, over the white felt of bleached summer grasses, dead till the green reach of rain in autumn, that blanket the black basalt ziggurats stepping up from the Columbia River, whose immensity was sensible even a thousand feet above it. All around lichen-blurred cairns of rotten rock broke through those undulating blankets, like wisps of smoke suspended in the windless heat. The perfume of sage hung low to the ground, pushed down by the weight of the August sunlight. Waves of heat from the baked, mud-clay paths were stacked up along the ground waiting for a breeze. Fifty miles in each direction only the river moved and then only reluctantly, bending geomorphically around the headland into the great stone slot east of Mosier. Rusty whistles from an occasional 100-car freight-train traveling along the Washington side rent the air weakly before being subsumed again into the gigantic stillness.