Central Oregon offers landscapes that contrast greatly to what we’re used to in the Portland area. Smith Rock reminds me of Arizona in so many ways— from the smell of the stunted Junipers to the wind-carved sandstone pillars. While it’s known around the world as a destination for rock climbers, it also has some challenging short distance hikes. It’s only a two hour drive from our home in Sandy.
On our trip to Bend this summer, we stopped by Smith Rock State Park and considered hiking. With temperatures hovering around 100 degrees that day, we thought it best to postpone it until the cooler fall weather.
In October, we combined the River, Mesa Verde and Misery Ridge Trails to create a 4 mile trek. Along the way, rock climbers gathered at every available climbing opportunity to practice their skills. The gear. The vibe. Quite a tribe. Hard to describe!
This was the first opportunity we’ve had to try out the Easton trekking poles that David ordered for me. We each used one, and discovered how much we put them to the test on this steep, rocky trail. They were especially valuable going downhill. The pole grips are covered in cork which is both easy on the hands and cool to the touch. However, we discovered that the diameter of the grips was too large for me, but perfect for David. Since they’re adjustable, he can use them snowshoeing, hiking and skiing. An added bonus with trekking poles is that our hands stay warmer, and we don’t wind up with sausage fingers. Holding them also keeps the arms, shoulders and upper body engaged, for a better workout.
We originally planned to camp overnight at the bivouac area in the park, but it was really crowded and felt more like something out of Burning Man so we took a pass. We stopped for an excellent meal and beer at the Terrebonne Depot, which is just a few miles outside the park.
After dinner, we thought we might find a place to camp around Lake Billy Chinook. However, the camping areas turned out to be closed for winter so we headed back home. That turned out to be a good choice because on the way up over the mountain, we plowed through torrential rains.