Misery Ridge Hike at Smith Rock State Park, Oregon
By Jonny Conger
If only these photos of my Misery Ridge hike at Smith Rock State Park held as much nostalgia for you as it does for me. Getting there was easy since it’s just a few hours from the Escape Campervans rental location in Portland, but leaving was hard because it was gorgeous.
Hiking Misery Ridge was a race against daylight. It was a close race with an outcome determined by a photo finish. It was evident we won when we summited to this view. We were sweaty, tent-less, and the wind was strong – strong enough to send our now chilling bodies to look for protection against the wind on the north side of the ridge.
We quickly grabbed our limited belongings to find a flat spot to sleep while the diminishing light from the sun allowed the stars to be more abundant with every glance to the sky. This was a quick search as we made our way around the wall. I took a few steps and the wind whistling in my ears immediately fell to silence as we entered the flat, windless ground. We took a few more steps and the quiet night air was awakened by the unmistakable rattle of a rattlesnake.
We quickly made it back to the other side, being greeted by the wind. Suddenly I was warm and the wind didn’t seem as bad as we had made it out to be. It was much more welcoming this time; the gust had grown gentle enough to allow us to lay down our sleeping bags.
We crawled in and stared at the stars while sharing a few good words as we settled down to the sound of the breeze. I laid awake thinking about how this was the rattlesnake’s home and we were lucky to be its guests. My mind was at ease. I stared at the stars till my eyes grew too heavy to keep open and I dreamed of waking up to the sunrise.