Impressive rock face - River Trail
As we rounded the loop that is the River Trail and approached the section of the River Trail that passes beneath the Christian Brothers; Dihedrals; and Morning Glory walls - - the sun lit the rock faces up and provided wonderful trail scenery. We started to see more and more rock climbers enjoying the rock walls in this area as well.
“Smith Rock State Park” Oregon Road Trip - Dec. 7th - 9th, 2011. These photographs were taken on a three day looping road trip through Eastern Oregon. The winter weather was perfect, with sunny clear skies.
DAY ONE: We drove through the Warm Springs reservation and on our way toward Redmond, Oregon we visited Peter Skene Ogden state park to gaze straight down at a narrow canyon of the Crooked River Gorge (Downstream it the Crooked River joins the Deschutes. Upstream is where we hiked along the Crooked River in Smith Rock State Park). We walked across the old highway bridge for views up and down the river canyon. Next, we drove to Smith Rock state park, near Terrebonne, Oregon, to check out the trailhead for the day hike we had planned the next day.
DAY TWO: We got up early and there was a freezing fog all about. Fortunately it burned off on our drive to Smith Rock state park, where we intended to hike. It was cold but beautiful when we hiked down “The Chute” trail to cross the Crooked River. We then hiked the Wolf Tree Trail to enjoy the lovely warm morning light as the last of the morning freezing fog blew away.
Retracing our hike the mile back to the footbridge on the Wolf Tree trail, we started up the Misery Ridge Trail. In the heat of a summer the trail’s name would probably fit, but the cold air felt great as my wife and I hiked up the ridge, with spectacular views changing by the moment.
We stopped for a water and snack break on top of Misery Ridge and took in the panoramic views to the west of us (the Oregon Cascades). Then above the pillar of rock called “The Monkey Face” (and a challenging route for rock climbers), we started the steep switchback trail back down to the Crooked River.
Enjoying our hike in the sunshine, we took the long route to join and hike the River Trail and eventually hiked counter clockwise, back to the footbridge, where we had started our loop hike. We saw Goldeneyes duck; mallards, Canada geese, falcons, and rock pigeon [Columba livia], the favorite dinner of the resident Peregrine Falcon.
As the sun came out and the cliff faces warmed, a swarm of eager rock climbers began showing up and along The Dihedrals and the Morning Glory Wall, we stopped to watch them climb and rappel. Smith Rock is a well known and popular rock climbing area. The rock is good but many of the faces have no cracks or hand holds so many of the faces are dotted with not only the white chalk marks of climbers’ hands, but the silver ends of protective “bolts”. We saw lots of those.
After completing our day hike we headed out to Cline Falls State Park on the Upper Deschutes River. Didn’t find the falls but enjoyed watching two lovely swans mingling among the resident mallards on the river.
DAY THREE: We left Redmond, Oregon on a sunny morning and drove east toward Mitchell, taking a quick side trip to the Painted Hills unit of the John Day fossil beds. Lighting wasn’t good for photographs, so we drove on. We stopped to check out the Oregon Hotel there for future reference (probably not), then turned north to drive the route north along the along the John Day River (which was trying to freeze over in places). At Fossil we turned west to the Clarno Unit of the John Day fossil beds. A fire had burned all vegetation at this site, but the hike to the cliffs, the fossils, and the intriguing “frozen in time” result of ancient lahars, was fascinating and worth the stop and the short hike.
On to Shaniko from the Clarno fossil beds and I stopped to take some photographs of an old barn, outside of town, that I had photographed a few years back. It has continued to cave in, weather and deteriorate, but is still a worthy photo shoot.
From Shaniko, Oregon we pointed our vehicle north toward home and by the time we reached Moro, we were enveloped in thick fog. That fog bank stayed with us all the way to our home in Eastern Washington. But, aside from the foggy ending, the two of us had more than our fair share of wonderful winter blue skies and sunshine, and we enjoyed every portion of the trails we had hiked.
Winter is not my favorite time of the year but road trips and hikes, like this one, sure help. In a few weeks the shortest day of the year will pass and the days will start getting longer and warmer “poco a poco” and that, for me, is always something to look forward to.