Tag Archives: Winter hiking

A trip to Smith Rock


Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 17, 18 & 19-Nov-2017


Bill and Greta, Sarah’s Mom and Dad, came to visit us for Thanksgiving this year!  Since they’d be visiting for the week ahead of Thanksgiving itself, we planned out a few various adventures for us all – the first one being a trip to finally show them Smith Rock!


We met Bill and Greta at the airport, complete with Ollie in her little Wonder Woman outfit.  After some impressive face licking and tail wagging we were back at the house, and then fairly quickly back on our way, driving South past Mt. Hood and down into central Oregon.  It was a bit of a hurricane, we’ll readily admit, but it payed impressive impressive dividends impressively quickly.

Sarah had put together an adventure for us all – Our first target was a small house that She’d reserved from AirBnB in Redmond; not right next to Smith itself, but pretty darn close in the scheme of things.  Sarah and I would usually just camp out while visiting Smith, but this time we had a request from Greta to fulfill – it was her birthday, and Scotland isn’t exactly known for exceptional steaks…

Yup – turns out, Scotland doesn’t have steaks like the US does.  They have whisky and mountains, deer and kilts… but no US-quality steaks.  But that’s something we could easily remedy – we hit up the butcher shop on our way out of town, and picked up a few rib eyes.  Once we were settled into the house, we set Sarah loose; we’d brought the cast iron skillets, the seasonings, and the tools.  Sarah has many skills that set her apart from the crowd, and one of those is definitely her skill with searing steaks up right.  Soon enough we were feasting, sipping wine, and settling in.

It was a lovely evening, especially after the whirlwind of driving, unpacking, repacking, and getting ourselves out to Smith.  We relaxed, caught up, and got ourselves ready for showing off our little playground in the desert.

Sarah and I have hiked and climbed at Smith Rock more times than I can count.  We’ve had epic adventures, relaxing days, and made tons of good memories.  Alongside that, Smith is a pretty unique piece of geology; a beautiful chunk of rock soaring out of the high desert.

Bill and Greta are both geologists, and have heard Sarah and I talk about climbs and hikes at Smith tons of times… but somehow, we’d never had a chance to all visit Smith together.  Now was our chance, and since they’d been doing a lot of hiking out in Scotland, we figured that it’d be pretty safe to drop all of us into the deep end, with a short hike called “The Misery Ridge Trail”.


It’s kind of miserable, from the first look of it: You hike a ways down into the valley, then hike all the way up to the top of the ridgeline, then back down for a long walk along the river before hiking back out of the valley.

We were in high spirits though, and needed to burn off the huge steaks that we’d eaten, so we got to it with a vengeance… and honestly had a really great time of it!  The hike always seems harder and longer than it actually is, and we all had a great time traipsing around, looking at the rock formations, and even doing a little bit of climbing on the far side of the trail, at a small cliff called Waterfall Slabs.  Mostly though, we just explored and enjoyed the walk.


Since the hike was the primary goal of the trip, we didn’t really have too much else planned.  After a bit of deliberation, we settled on finishing plans over dinner – sticking with the theme of “things you can’t find in Scotland”, we found an awesome BBQ pit-style restaurant and ordered a rather impressive pile of dinner for ourselves.  We gorged, tasted some pretty impressively delicious local beer, before heading back to the rental to continue catching up and relaxing.


Sunday dawned nice and early, to the delicious smell of re-heated brisket and ribs.  Our plans for the day, after devouring the leftovers from the night before, was to drive back to Portland while doing a hike in the Mt. Hood area.   It was mostly a chill day – the hike at Smith hadn’t been particularly intense, but it had still been enough that we weren’t planning on anything too intense the day right afterward.

Our hike turned out to be perfect – It was in an area that Ollie could run free, unlike Smith, and the trail was a gorgeous bouquet of winter wonderland covered in light snow and ice.  The trail we’d chosen was along a river, heading up into the mountains toward a few waterfalls; in short, gorgeous.

We hiked for a while, though we didn’t end up making it all the way to the final viewpoint – as the trail wound onward and upward, we started encountering more and more snow, followed by icier and icier conditions on the trail.  We finally hit our limit a ways in, when the path took us through a boulder field.  It had iced over nearly completely, and upward progress was basically impossible.  So we had a rest and a lunch break, before heading back toward the car, and to Portland.