Smith Rock: A Wintry Walk

January 12, 2017.

4 mi. | 800′ ele. gain | 2:30 hr.

It’s been an epic snow winter here in Bend and I’ve been taking advantage of it. Normally snow-free areas have snow cover, which means new perspectives and no crowds.

That realization drew me out to Smith Rock, a place that often has way more visitors than parking spots. Today my friend Sarah and I packed our Yaxtrax and poles to tackle the well-known hiking loop up and over Misery Ridge.

When we arrived, it was like a ghost town. We were greeted by a warning sign letting us know that the trails may be icy and that we needed to be prepared for our chosen activity. Yes!

As we crossed the bridge and started hiking Misery Ridge I stared up at the huge rock faces. The dusting of snow on the rock brought out tiny details you’d never notice otherwise. The sheer rock walls looked so much more expressive in their winter coats. The steep, narrow track demanded most of my attention, though, and I was glad to have both traction and poles.

We crested over the top of the formation and headed down the other side. Low clouds hid away the tops of Gray Butte and other nearby hills. The Cascades were nowhere to be seen. These were not classic Smith Rock views. Monkey Face was covered in snow; there were no climbers to be seen today! Even the river was almost entirely beneath a layer of snow.

Winter brought a degree of solitude and quiet that I’d never before experienced at this highly popular state park. I was glad to have taken a chance on coming out here. And glad that Sarah was up for the challenge, too.

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