Smith Rock Misery Ridge Loop 5-26-19

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buckwheat
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Smith Rock Misery Ridge Loop 5-26-19

Post by buckwheat » May 27th, 2019, 2:25 pm

This trip report was a large departure from my planned hiking over the weekend, but despite all the hype, I was still impressed by the beauty of Smith Rock. I have never been there before, and as a native Oregonian, it felt a little criminal, so I feel lucky as to have finally had the chance to remedy that.

My lady and I spent Saturday night out at a friend's place on Crooked River Ranch after getting rained out while trying to camp up near Big Lake. The campground was still gated off, but was mostly melted out, and there was just scattered patches of snow. I had brought my tarptent - protrail, which I had mistaken thought was a 2 person tent. I just bought it in January, and hadn't used it yet, so I meant to break it in. But while we could have been crowded and comfortable in the protrail, given the amount of rain that was coming down by evening, we decided to bail to aforementioned friend's house out at CRR. Here is a picture of the view Mt Washington from Big Lake.

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This change of venue and schedule freed up our Sunday. Rather than hiking along the PCT out towards Mt Washington we chose to zip over to Smith Rock as it was so convenient to where we were staying. We got up around 6, and over to the State Park by about 7:30 AM. After dilly-dallying in the parking lot, we decided on the Misery Loop and set off with a day pack and some snacks. When we started there was maybe 8 other cars in the lot, which meant for our hike down to the river, and then up the switchbacks, we saw maybe 4-6 other people in total. Picture of Misery Ridge.

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We took a pretty leisurely pace on our hike up the switchbacks, taking maybe 45 minutes from car to the top (roughly 1 mile?). The weather was cloudy but not rainy, no heat, little wind. On the way up, there were a couple offshoots for viewpoints/climbs, but those were all clearly not the main trail. For our first time up there, and probably for the next hundred times, this will be an awe-inspiring view. I have some acrophobia, so I avoided getting too close to any edges, but besides that, it was everything I wanted it to be. The number of paths in the gravel at the summit is a little disorienting, as they seem to go in every direction, but there are plentiful signs for the Misery Ridge Loop, so we never got close to getting lost. Picture of Monkey Face looking intimidating: 2 tiny people on top.

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We took about a 15 minute break up top to watch 2 climbers summit the Monkey Face. They made it look easy, I was so thrilled to see their success. The hike down to the Mesa Verde / River Trail made me real glad to have my trekking poles with. It was incredibly steep, and the recent rains and created lots of slippery/loose gravel and small gullys across it. At the base of the Monkey Face, there is a first aid kit that has a body stretcher and a pair of crutches, neither of which looked well used, but neither of which looked encouraging. The rest of the hike around the river had lots of very serene sights, but zero difficulty. I think it was about another 2.25 miles back to the car along the river and it took maybe another hour. Seeing these incredible rock faces and the reverence they inspired in me was definitely worth every minute. Picture of a waterfall feeding into the canyon near the Southern Tip.

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The last mile/mile and a half the number of people skyrocketed, and it went from a peaceful location to a madhouse. We got back to our car about 10:30, and there were people waiting on the road for cars to pull out, so they could take their spots. I was extremely glad we got there as early as we did, as the crowds definitely took away something from the enjoyment for me. I don't mind sharing the trail, but if every 20-30 seconds you have to dodge another group headed the other direction, or a jogger coming behind you, its hard to focus on the beauty of the landscape.

Buckwheat

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jessbee
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Re: Smith Rock Misery Ridge Loop 5-26-19

Post by jessbee » May 27th, 2019, 3:15 pm

You definitely timed it right with an early start and less than perfect weather.

You should make one more trip out there in the winter: it's absolutely stunning (and empty) in the snow.
Will break trail for beer.

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buckwheat
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Re: Smith Rock Misery Ridge Loop 5-26-19

Post by buckwheat » May 27th, 2019, 7:18 pm

Jessbee -

Do you recommend an early snowfall trip, like October/early November, or a pre-melt off trip, like March? I end up going to Bend like 4-5 times a year for other reasons, so making a second trip to S.R.S.P. shouldn't be too difficult.

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Re: Smith Rock Misery Ridge Loop 5-26-19

Post by jessbee » May 27th, 2019, 9:03 pm

Snow is rare at Smith, not as predictable as in the high Cascades. So you've just got to watch the weather and check out the Smith Rock webcam to scout conditions day by day. This year there was significant snowfall in December and January (I think) but some years there may be none at all.
Will break trail for beer.

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