29 Aug 2016

Road-trip in Oregon - Hiking in Smith Rock State Park

The benefit of having a base for a few days on our Oregon road-trip was that we could do a nice day-hike in the nearby Smith Rock State Park, just north of Bend.

The weather was similar to the previous day - some white, unexciting cloud, with the odd patch of blue sky and sun. We had a long lie in, then headed out at midday (stopping at Safeway to buy some packed lunch food and Walmart to buy a new iPhone charger after I snapped the one we had. We also bought some Kombucha, to try it - it was vile and it got thrown away, undrunk!). The park is just outside the little town of Terrebonne, which is just outside Redmond. On the way we passed my favourite-named road in the area: Odem Medo (who knows why!). Approaching the park the mountains just pop up in the middle of the surrounding farmland and residential area, but it's impressive once you get away from the houses.

We parked the car, sat and ate some lunch, and then headed down the path to the footbridge, huge craggy yellow and red cliffs towering above on the other side. I'd chosen to do the circular hike in an anti-clockwise direction, going up along the Misery Ridge route, passing Monkey Face, then down the other side and back along the bend in the river. It was pretty hot, but at least the sun wasn't out constantly. As we walked down to the river I realised that I'd put on my non-hiking shoes, by mistake. There was no way I was going to drive back to get my shoes, so I had to make do with my New Balances, which had no grip or tread whatsoever. We climbed steeply uphill, noticing rock-climbers perched to the cliffs. They were everywhere - this was a very popular place for climbing. Every other hiker seem to be carrying a bunch of ropes and carabiners, heading off to find a new wall to explore.

As we walked we chatted to a couple from Portland, who were down for a couple of days. The woman was 8 months pregnant, so was taking it fairly slowly, but she was still managing remarkably well. The boys chatted about craft beer. I took a few photos. We got to the first viewpoint facing east fairly quickly - the distances weren't great.

At the top the path wound round a few towering rocks and headed over to the other side, facing west. On the far side it was suddenly really windy. We met a couple of women who were from Wisconsin and had a little dog called Biscuit. The dog's owner said "Awesome!!!!" after everything I said. She was very sweet, but the awesome thing was a little over-the-top.

We headed down a bit and found the Monkey Face, upon which we noticed a climber. We found a perch overlooking the wall and crept to the edge of it - directly opposite the little nook that the climber was standing in. There were, in fact, two climbers - one had just made it over a little rim to the sheltered resting place, and the other was miles below, planning his ascent. We watched them for a while, the guy below making a speedy job of getting up, clipping and unclipping carabiners as he went. He got a bit stuck at the top, unable to hoist himself over the rim. After a few goes he finally made it. I took lots of photos of them - it was quite amazing what they were doing!

We headed down the back side of the rocky mountains, the wind fierce again as we descended. The view from that point was spectacular.

It was hard work for me in my unsuitable shoes, paranoid that I was going to slip down the loose rocks at any time. I made it down without slipping at all, which was a relief. The remainder of the walk was an easy amble along a fairly flat path, at the foot of cliffs.

Every now and then I'd notice more climbers hanging off the edge of high cliffs.

A line of geese struggled against the current of the river. The path followed the river as it wound around to the south and east back to our starting point. The last area was packed with climbers - little dots of people with outstretched limbs everywhere you looked!

The whole hike took us two and half hours, but we had taken it pretty slowly, stopping for at least half an hour to watch the climbers on Monkey Face. The sky was still overcast, the sun only having come out for brief moments during the hike. I would have stayed around for sunset, but it wasn't for a few hours, and again beer called - we still had to try the Crux Fermentation Project and we were heading off the next day, so this was our last chance.

We drove back and decided to visit a few of the breweries with the car, as they were quite a walk from the house. It meant that Murray was only able to have a few sips of the beer as he was driving (his turn). We started at Boneyard, where a tour bus had arrived before us, so there were queues to get the tasters. There were some nice beers, but Murray was a bit disappointed. We worked our way through the tap-list before heading to Crux.

The beer at Crux was good - we'd been told it was very good by various people we'd met along the way, and it didn't disappoint. While we were there we had some grilled sprouts (delicious!!) and some more of the strange squeaky curd cheese (raw this time, and quite tasty too). Since we still had the car we decided to go home after this, before heading back out for something to eat and more beer later.

At home it was our last chance to use the hot tub, and it had turned into a lovely sunny evening. We sat in the tub, drinking the Rogue beers we'd bought a few days earlier out of our metal cups from the Portland festival, finally getting to wear my new bikini. It was quite blissful!

Hunger arrived, so we headed back into town, across the river which looked so serene.

We ate a reasonably good Thai meal at the Wild Rose - one of the few restaurants in town, which was heaving. Then we walked across town a little to get to the Platypus Pub, where a quiz night was going on. It was quite lively in the main room, but we sat at the bar and worked our way through the tasters - they had a great selection from a variety of breweries.

"Drink Til You're Nice"

We headed back to our little pink home for the last night.

Map of the day's drive

Click here for my blog on visiting the Blue Basin & Painted Hills

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