Beautiful Misery

Dramatic title, I know.

Don’t worry. This isn’t about Kathy Bates breaking somebody’s ankles with a sledgehammer. (Shudder.)

This post is about this other crazy bitch…

crooked river

misery ridge

Yep, you’re reading that right.

Misery Ridge Trail. Most difficult.

And, we hiked it.

Wondering if the trail lived up to its name? I would have my ass and legs tell you, but we’re still not on speaking terms.

At around 3,000 feet in elevation, the huffing and puffing as you climb this steep trail humbles even the savviest hikers. There was seriously a moment when I wanted to stop, turn around, and give up.

Yeah, me.

Yet, determination came from somewhere inside. I thought of nothing else but making it to the top. Everything faded away and it was only me, Mr. H, and nature—bound together, beneath the bright sky.

Eventually, we conquered that damn rock.

top of misery ridge trail

conquering smith rock

We were still in Oregon—Smith Rock, to be exact—but it seemed like Mars. The high desert was so different from the mossy wonderland we were used to.

In central Oregon, there is still a hint of what lies on the other side of the mountains. It’s half desert, half forest.

And, holy shit is it gorgeous!

smith rock trails

Can you see the monkey face?

Can you see the monkey face?

smith rock trees

crooked river

A climbers paradise, every time you look up, you see one human or a whole group of humans hanging on the side of the giant rock.

They move with slow precision, choosing each movement as if their life depends on it.

smith rock climbers

Because it does. One false move is all it takes for these daring climbers to have a really bad day.

Which is why medical huts with crutches and stretchers are strategically placed throughout the park.

mountain climbing

At the start of our adventure on Misery Ridge Trail, it was all about this deep internal discovery. What we were truly capable of when fatigue and doubt set in.

After all of that was done and the trail leveled out, our breath slowed and our smiles returned. But we were different, walking with a newfound energy, almost bouncing the rest of the way.

Hell, I even skipped a few times. And obviously, a Yoga tradition was a must.

half moon pose smith rock

There were times of difficulty, but we never gave up. There were times when I slipped and his hand was right there.

Climbing that rock together was a bit of a defining moment, a beautiful misery where it was only us against the rest of it.

Kind of like life. Hmm…

How about you guys…any defining travel/sport/adventure moments that changed you in some way?

couples selfie smith rock

43 thoughts on “Beautiful Misery

  1. Jessica - Notes of Nomads says:

    Love this! How beautiful it looks there and congrats for conquering it! Perhaps a defining travel/hiking moment for me was climbing Mt. Fuji. Not actually reaching the summit, but the moment when the final station was in sight knowing I didn’t have to walk anymore for a while. Haha

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Jess doll hanging at my blog…say what?!

      It is extremely beautiful all over Oregon. I didn’t even know about this part and I was floored.

      I don’t know if I’m brave enough for Mt. Fuji, so I salute you. I bet seeing that station was the most amazing feeling. I bet you wanted a hot bath and a beer too. 😉

  2. Roy McCarthy says:

    That’s gorgeous Britt, and all the better for having earned it. Only a tiny percentage of people will ever get to see those views.

    Physically I guess the two marathons I finished were the most difficult things I’ve done – right at the outer edge of my ability level.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Crazy to see after all of the forest and waterfall shots I’ve been showing off this past year, right? Very good point and I often forget how lucky I am not only to live here, but to be able to climb up to some of these incredible spots.

      Yes, two marathons beats the crap out of this hike. So awesome!

  3. JunkChuck says:

    We hiked this trail back in the dark ages. 1997. Best part was the beer and pizza on the way home! Nah! It was awesome–a typically dark, damp day in Eugene found us climbing up to the desert where it was cool, but bright(ish) and dry. One of the many things I loved about Oregon. Thanks for jolting the memory out of deep storage.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      LOL! The dark ages.

      Truthfully, we did such a brutal hike to work off the amazing food and beer we consumed the night before while making room for the remaining debauchery we were going to partake in. Bend is amazing!

      You’re most welcome for the memory jolt. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Letizia says:

    The color of Smith Rock is indeed so beautiful. I can’t remember which trail we hiked but I know it wasn’t the Misery Trail as I would have remembered the huts with the crutches (!).

    When I was in Kenya we stayed at a friend’s house right on the Great Rift Valley and the view and connection with the rock and landscape was immensely profound. Your words and feelings towards the rocks and nature in Bend reminded me of this. How we can feel connected – and changed, moved – by these landscapes.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I had rose tinted sunglasses on the whole time, so I thought Smith Rock was even MORE beautiful! It was very pink behind my shades and I lost it when I took them off. 🙂

      Dude, the hut with crutches totally tripped me out. Jarring, but I get it.

      Kenya?! Good grief, where haven’t you been, doll? That sounds amazing.

      This was my first time connecting with rocks in this way, so it was very interesting. I’m usually an ocean/forest fairy.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Your hero? Oh, come now, Mr. I Sail Like it’s No Big Deal! 🙂

      An official tree climber? That’s too neat. My dad always called me monkey, because I climbed EVERYTHING. But, I like to climb on my feet now. You won’t catch me hanging on the side of a big rock like that chick I took a shot of.

  5. Sheila says:

    That’s amazing! It’s funny how parts of Arizona or Utah look like Mars but I never thought of Oregon as looking like that. Too bad you couldn’t bounce down like on those Michigan sand dunes!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I’ve been to Arizona and Utah and thought the same thing. Mars. I’ve never been, but I picture it just like that. Ominous, but gorgeous.

      I was very confused when we crossed over the mountains and everything changed little by little until we were completely on another planet. We were speechless…and we yap a lot. 🙂

  6. Mustaque says:

    20 years back,80 of us went to tiger hill top ,Darjeeling, to watch sunrise over Kanchenjunga. It was around 4 am.sunrise was supposed to be after an was cloudy.we were waiting, but no sun!.fortunately I went a few feet away to the opposite side of the small flat stone.a few wild grass were dangling in front.dew drops on d gentle morning breeze ,I felt so if I have watched the creation of the dew drop in that dust less the door of heaven!.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      That sounds incredible, even without the sunrise visibility. Even when you can’t see it, you know it’s there—rising and falling to begin and close each day. Lovely, thanks for sharing!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Honey, I’ve gotta say, I’m not afraid of heights but I had some moments on this trail. The two times I rested and looked down were not the best idea.

      I just kept my eyes on Mr. H’s butt the rest of the time. I mean, I kept my eyes on the trail. 🙂

  7. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    Oh yeah, love the name! Glad you survived.

    Our story? The one where my husband and I nearly bought it was in the middle of winter on a steep mountainside with a few inches of snow over ice. Snowshoeing and sliding, trying to avoid creating an avalanche. An icy lake at the bottom of the slide. Not properly prepared. snow in our hiking boots. frozen feet. glad to be alive at the end of the hours-long journey. My feet have never quite recovered. We call these excursions “Rem and Jil’s excellent adventures.”

  8. Minuscule Moments says:

    Britt its been a while since I abseiled down a fifty metre cliff or jumped out of a plane tandem style. Now days I am happy to take these old creaky bones for a slow paced walk. Looks like a beautiful place, your photo’s speak for themselves. I also walked to the top of Mount Sinai once and had a whisky watching the sun come up… glad I had adventures back then… I should start thinking about what the kids could handle….thanks for waking the passion in me again and reminding me its never to late to discover new challenges.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      You jumped out of a plane, Kath?! I thought about that once and now have absolutely no desire to. My boss keeps saying we’re going to do it for a work outing. I’d rather go to happy hour on the ground, thank you very much.

      The sunrise whiskey sounds lovely. But, I would have a beer. 🙂

      So glad to remind you of adventurous you. Hey, we’ll always have these memories, sweetness.

  9. Les Petits Pas de Juls says:

    Oh I’m always so jealous when I see you hanging around Oregon and showing off some new gorgeous place! That hike looks like something fabulous! Good on you to get all the way up there, the reward of getting there and the view must have felt uplifting.

    I’ve been hiking more since I went on the Big Trip and love and enjoy it every time. But I remember particularly and fondly that day I hiked 4 14ers in 1 day in Colorado…

    Enjoy the trails, happy monkey!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      It is quite nice here, I must say. Though you’re traipsing around the beautiful streets of Paris, so I’m jealous! 🙂

      I have yet to go to Colorado, believe it or not. Mr. H lived there at one point and I know some people that live there now. So many places I need to see, even in my US backyard.

  10. Kate Johnston says:

    I love hiking, but I have bad knees so I have to be careful. That fence is pretty neat – do you know if that’s from people once living up there, or is it just part of the hiking trail? The monkey face is a fun sight!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      There was a moderate trail that circled the base of the rock, which would have been fine for your knees. It had a few ups and downs with all of the scenery punch.

      The fence is part of the hiking trail when you first enter the park. Very cool.

      And, the monkey face was crazy to see, especially because there was a climber on him too. 🙂

  11. Karin Van den Bergh says:

    And boy was it worth it!! Gorgeous views! Congrats Britt on this amazing accomplishment. Yes, I see the monkey face 🙂
    I love love hiking! Massachusetts was paradise for me. Over here it’s much flatter, less green but I feel urged to go on an adventure.
    I think the most challenging climb was to the top of Macchu Picchu at about 8,000ft. I was so eager to take on that mountaintop I started my usual light and well paced tread, passing other visitors wondering why they were so slow and had to stop all the time.. haha I soon found out why :p

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Totally worth it…so gorgeous it didn’t seem real! Yes, unfortunately I lost my hiking legs in Texas, since it’s so flat. 😦

      Wowza, Macchu Picchu! That’s so cool. Go, Karin!

  12. Alarna Rose Gray says:

    Hey Britt, what a worthwhile bit of Misery to endure! I have missed the blogging adventure with you, but have been on a bit of my own Misery Trail that I now hope may be turning Beautiful. At any rate, I love the bringing together of those two states of being in this post, and the reminder that all things worth doing involve a bit of pain! Hope you are well.

  13. Browsing the Atlas says:

    The idea of rock climbing, or climbing anything rocky scares me to death. It’s not for me. I’d rather have my feet firmly on level ground staring up and admiring the view. I could climb a forested mountain trail, but not something rocky where I could always see where a foot slip would send me.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      My ass needs to be on two legs, not flying in the air while I straddle a giant rock. I don’t know how some of these crazy kids climb like they do. Climbing is big out here, so we’re actually in the minority of active people for not doing it.

      Rocky trails are quite slippery. I prefer the forest as well. 🙂

  14. vsvevg says:

    Riding a horse bareback, running…pretty much made me who I am. Good for you guys!! looking forward to some, not so challenging walks on the beach with my man 🙂 peace a

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