Visiting Smith Rock! An Epic of epic proportions!

Visiting Smith Rock! An Epic of epic proportions!

A Crater Lake adventure!

Sarah had planned a glorious adventure: We would drive down to Smith Rock to climb for a day, then spend a day at Diamond Lake exploring, and then hit the jewel of the trip – a sunrise exploration of the Crater Lake rim.  From the rim, we’d stay nearby, explore Crater Lake, relax, take a boat ride, and have a great time.  We’d packed the car, made trip itineraries, and Ollie was safely at camp for the week.  All we needed to do was drive…


Monday, 28-Aug-2017


Smith Rock.  Climbing place.  Rocks.  Stuff like that.

We’ve been here a few times… a lot of few times.  We weren’t particularly worried when we parked at the main site in the mid-afternoon, and started racking up at the base of the cliff at 3:30.

We… we should have been, though.

The route started gloriously though!  We headed up Moscow, a 5.6 2 or 3 pitch trad route – one of my favorites at Smith, if I’m being honest.  It’s easy… but sustained; the climbing is never insane, but it’s almost never easy.  The moves all keep the same difficulty level, and it’s a great challenge of a route.  It’d been a bit of a challenge for us though, since the first move is Sarah’s white whale – a reachy bulge move.


But she pulled it!  Sarah crushed the move, and annihilated the first pitch.  I did the same to the second pitch, officially ticking off my first post-injury Trad lead!  Yay wins for both of us!

Pitch 3 threw us a bit of a curveball though… Sarah ran into some trouble about halfway up, with tough moves and tired hands, so I climbed up and took over the reins to finish out the route.  I did leave a headlamp with her though, just in case my lead took longer than expected and we had to have a dusk adventure.

Ohh… I am glad I left that headlamp with her.  Though I kind of wish I’d brought a second one…

When Sarah topped out after Pitch 3, it was dark.  She’d needed the headlamp for the last dozen feet, which led to a pretty cool view from my end.  Something between an angel ascending up the rock, and a monster crawling up from the abyss.  I think it depended more on what noises she was making at the time… either happy about finishing the climb, or angry at my difficult-to-remove placements.


But wait, there’s more!

There’s always more, isn’t there?  Remember… the climb is only half the fun!  The other half if the descent!  This descent wasn’t super fun.  Short version: I taped my phone to my helmet and set it to flashlight mode, Sarah tracked our way up, and we took a 20 minute nap at the base of the climb because we couldn’t really walk super well, thanks to being tired and super thirsty.

In all, the three-pitch route was done in five pitches, including the final roped top-out for safety, and took us nearly six hours.  We did debate sleeping on the wall at one point… but I think that thought was what kept us going to make sure we DIDN’T have to do that.

Then began the long trudge down into the canyon.  Then back up the canyon.  Honestly, not that bad in retrospect… we were tired, true, but we held a pretty good pace and kept pretty happy spirits.  Once back at the car we chugged more gatorade than one should normally chug, and ate more cheetos than one normally admits to eating.  A quick drive took us to the campsite, and then a quick unpack had us cooking ourselves a dinner.

It was nearly 11:00 at this point, so we’d obviously debated skipping dinner and setting up the tent right away.  But this was the first day of our adventure: It doesn’t behoove one to start an adventure by starving ones self.  We buckled down and made ourselves pasta with rendered sausage and asparagus, paired cleverly with a nice red ale.  It went down wonderfully, and was clearly our best decision of the day.


Then our sleeping bags lay out, and asleep we went.

Henry’s visit – Hiking on Mt Hood!

Henry’s visit – Hiking on Mt Hood!

Sunday, 13-Aug-2017

Sarah’s brother came to visit!

I’d met Henry before, but this was going to be the first time that we got to spend time together her in Oregon – Henry was out for a conference, but had scheduled some extra time to hang out and go on some adventures with us.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to spend the whole time hanging out, as I had to fly back home for an unexpected funeral, but we were able to get a few adventures in before he flew back to Australia…


Mt Hood is an amazingly gorgeous spot, and Portland is perfectly situated to take advantage of this quick escape from the confines of city life.  Hence why Sarah and I have been doing so many hikes on its slopes recently.  Since Henry was in town, and wanted to do some adventuring, the only real question was which trail to take.

After a bit of research, we stuck with the trail through ZigZag canyon and out to Paradise Park – Unlike McNeil Point, paradise park can be terminated in a ton of various places, all with amazing viewpoints and relaxing rest spots.  A great route to take pictures, enjoy Mt. Hood, and for Sarah and I to experiment with carrying slightly heavier packs than normal.


Morning came, and morning found us in the car, heading South and East.  We’d packed up most of our gear the night before, though we did do a small bit of packing the morning of.  Including, of course, some silly posing with said gear.  Because that’s always important.

Once we were underway though, the first bit went quickly.  We drove, arrived, and started down the trail toward little ZigZag canyon.  We did run into one bit of excitement as a Search and Rescue patrol passed us coming out, but since they mentioned that they were just on a training drill, we didn’t think much of it.  Aside from that one excitement, the start of the hike went easily.  We walked, took pictures, and Ollie ran and frolicked as much as her puppy heart could hope for.

We hiked.  We worked our way through little zigzag, and then had some lunch on the precipice of ZigZag canyon itself.  It was starting to get late, or at least too late for us to make it all the way to Paradise Park, so we changed our destination slightly: instead of going down into Zigzag and then back out to Paradise, we aimed for turning around at the base of Zigzag.


Which we did!

The hike down into the canyon was gorgeous – lots of really cool vegetation and moss and little waterfalls streaming down the sides of the canyon.  Which only got muddier as we got closer to the main river… added a bit of an adventure to it, but we all had some form of hiking poles: Sarah and I had traditional poles, and Henry had his camera tripod.  Turns out, tripods work really well as walking sticks.  Who knew?

Once we were at the canyon floor, we took a short break and got hit with a little rain.  But nothing too bad, since we’d all packed in rain gear… and it added a nice little refreshment to the midpoint of the hike.  And gave us a great chance to take a ton of really good pictures!


After wandering around for a while and enjoying the light rain and the spray from a rather beautiful waterfall we started back up the trail the way we’d come.  I won’t lie – it was a long walk.  I’m still regaining strength and endurance, and the amount of walking wasn’t super within my normal day-to-day activity.  It wasn’t too far outside either though, so we pushed through quite strongly, without too many issues.

Ohh, we did have some.  When Ollie saw a deer, for example, and went tearing off into the brush after it.  Thankfully for us though, she’s not too good at predictive pathing… and so ran to where she’d last seen the deer, instead of where the deer was actively running toward.  And since deer are much faster than her anyways… well, she didn’t come anywhere close to it, and honestly never could have in the first place.

It was enough to give us pause though, and enough for us to put her back on the leash for the rest of the hike.


Once the hike was done, puplette got sequestered away into the car for some mandatory rest while the three of us headed into the Timberline Lodge.  Our goal was either a light snack, or possibly even dinner, at one of the restaurants inside.  The Timberline Lodge is honestly one of my favorite places as far as architecture goes – it’s built in this massively excessive form, very akin to an ancient dwarven fortress, or huge viking hall.  The geometric patterns, huge fireplaces, and sturdy wooden beams are exactly what I’d love in a house of my own.

That architecture doesn’t come cheap though… as we found out the hard way.  We headed back to the car, tails between our legs, after reading the prices on the menus.   To say nothing of the dress codes that we almost certainly would have failed to meet.


Instead, Dairy Queen called out to us.  Which was completely okay with Ollie, who got to join us and help us finish our french fries.

Henry’s Visit – climbing Rooster Rock

Henry’s Visit – climbing Rooster Rock

Saturday, 12-August-2017


Sarah’s brother came to visit!

I’d met Henry before, but this was going to be the first time that we got to spend time together her in Oregon – Henry was out for a conference, but had scheduled some extra time to hang out and go on some adventures with us.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to spend the whole time hanging out, as I had to fly back home for an unexpected funeral, but we were able to get a few adventures in before he flew back to Australia…


One of our goals for Henry’s visit was to take him rock climbing outdoors – we did some climbing while visiting Scotland for Christmas, but that was inside, and only on top rope… From what I remember, Henry’s never actually been climbing outside, or done any multi-pitch climbing.  We had to remedy that.

Instead of trying for a huge climb, we decided to take it a bit easy… I was still a little hesitant with my knee, so combining that with the fact that Henry didn’t have any climbing shoes led us to a short few pitches at the entrance of the gorge: Rooster Rock.

The climb went lovely!  Henry enjoyed himself, and got a chance to get some really good pictures from the top of the spire.


I… I don’t know what else to write.  Climb good.  Views good.  Adventure good.  Rappel down good.  Walk back to car, drive home, eat dinner.  Good.