From there we worked our way to Priest Hole and camped along the shore of the John Day River (after some discussion as to the ethics of camping in an area with no designated campsites). An isolated spot to be sure, however, there was a bouquet of locals in pontoons and floaties festooning the waterway. The research and the signs all indicated that camping was okay, so that was a bit of a surprise. "Primitive" in this case, meant, "wherever." A sign indicated that the BLM has plans for developing the area. I liked it how it was. We were the only ones who passed the night there. Just us and the Milky Way.
The Painted Hills came on Day Three. I believe we were the first ones at the Monument. The trash-pulling Ranger wasn't too far behind us. Trash-pulling is of course a time honored cover to check out what tourists are up to. For the record, we didn't walk on any of the hills, but it was obvious where people had. This is a case where leaving only footprints is really bad. By the way, what's with the shoe tree on the Ochoco Hwy (Rt. 26)? If you Google, "shoe tree Mitchell, OR," you'll see what I mean. Whimsy for the traveler. Toward the end of the day we ended up outside Prairie City at the edge of the Strawberry Wilderness.