Just outside of Bend, Oregon, is an unassuming rock formation called Smith Rock. The story surrounding the name of this place varies, from a Linn County lawman to a private soldier that died during a battle with the Northern Paiute Indians in 1863.
It’s a warm summer’s day in June as I arrive. I check my water supply and then head down to see which hiking trail I want to try and conquer. I decide to try the aptly named “Misery Trail”, which has a Ranger at the trailhead holding one of several species of snake found in this area.
I compose myself after seeing the slithering menace, and start the ascent up Misery.
The Misery Trail, when started from the right, quickly climbs up Smith Rock in an almost straight line, causing profuse sweating and heavy breathing by all those attempting to reach the summit. After resting several times and depleting most of my water in the first mile, I reach the top.
The views are glorious. I can see the green valley outstretched below, and white capped mountain tops far off in the distance.
After crossing along the summit, I come to the infamous “Monkey Face” monolith that has been calling the name of climbers ever since it’s discovery. I arrive just as a group has reached the top of Monkey Face.
The descent is just as picturesque as I make my way along the Deschutes river, and eventually coming full circle back to where I originally started.
I think all told it was almost five miles round trip, and worth every single step.