I am going to end up creating a separate post just for photos, because I used my DSLR quite a bit today. (The ones in this post are the same ones from yesterday’s ‘place-holder’ post). As I said in that post, there was also a lot of driving. After leaving Weiser, ID, I drove the short distance – maybe 15 miles – to Ontario, Oregon. It was along the way, but I primarily I needed gasoline, coffee (where the girl at Dutch Brothers thought I had intentionally lowered my car and wanted to know about it), and some groceries – snacks for hiking.
The first of two destinations today was the Painted Hills of Oregon. It’s listed as one of Oregon’s seven natural wonders, and is the destination near that town on Mitchell. It was about four hours drive, with almost zero traffic, zooming through forest, desert, tiny towns with a single school, lots of cattle-raising, and XM radio in the car. Actually, I started listening to an audiobook of James Joyce’s Ulysses, but eventually I needed to sing.
I didn’t take my own photos of Mitchell, but here are some found on Yahoo! images:
Just a few beyond are the Painted Hills – the monument itself, a six mile excursion down a side road. The site was almost totally deserted – a benefit to traveling on a weekday. I hiked two very short trails with my camera, then hiked the 0.75 mile Carroll Rim Trail up the hill looking down over the painted landscape.
Math alert: As I was beginning my journey back down the trail, my mind shifted to math. I counted my steps going uphill, then started counting downhill until I got distracted. Ultimately, I ended up figuring out how one would find the average grade, or slope, of the trail just by knowing the number of steps taken to get up and back down. ANYWAY… I was doing calculations and the analysis in my head, and figured it out just before I got back down. And now, back to real life…
After this, I drove an additional two hours, through an active forest fire (at Ochoco Summit), which I later read is 76% contained, and arrived in the Bend/Redmond area. I have really only been here in the winter because the Sunriver Resort is nearby. When I watched the Oregon episode of Aerial America, it showed a rock-climbing mecca called Smith Rock and I really wanted to visit. I had no idea what part of the state it was in, though, and was excited to see it would be a natural destination after the Painted Hills.
I arrived about 2 hours before sunset, took photos from some of the parking lot – taking in the different angles – then decided to hike to the top along one of the trails. I hiked the Misery Ridge Trail, which went by the “Picnic Lunch” Wall and “Red” Wall, then up switchbacks. At the top, continuing the trail around to the backside of the formation brings “Monkey Face” Wall into view. I think I was too close to sunset to see any climbers, but their chalk and some anchors/ropes (I don’t the lingo) were still visible. Atop the ridge, it started raining, but I heard thunder so I waited up there for a little while until it settled down. At this point, I also used my smartphone to book a hotel room on Priceline. Eventually, I made it down the trail and it was right at sunset, so I drove to the nearby parking lot which offered a more spectacular view of the shadows and light on the rocks.
I finished off the evening at 10 Barrel Brewing, enjoying two beers and a really unique veggie sandwich. It was something like a walnut and bean patty, and it was served on ciabatta.
Better pictures to follow.