I unzipped the upper edge of the frosted door of my camping tent, looking out across widely spaced juniper trees and low green ground cover permanently stunted by high desert life, and Smith Rock jutted up before me.

It was cold, too cold to emerge from the down pile Lynn and I had collected in the tent, so I burrowed back down and waited for the sun to do a little more work. We listened to geese honks echo off the canyon walls.

We were here, just north of Bend, Oregon, on an impromptu trip put together in part by a few site visits Lynn had to make for work and some unexpected free time I found on my hands. We had swung through Sacramento, spent a warm weekend in Point Reyes, stayed in I-5 side motels under a tarnished silver overcast in the northern Central Valley, and finally popped out in Bend, where we hit the ground, and the breweries, pedaling.

Bend and Tahoe seem to get a lot of cross pollination, and spending time there, it’s easy to see why they attract similar people. Often the same people in fact, as it seems we’re always hearing about someone moving to Bend from Tahoe or meeting someone from Bend, newly arrived in Truckee, Kings Beach or South Lake Tahoe.

We grew impatient, packed up my rope, quick draws, our climbing shoes and harnesses and worked our way down into the canyon. Putting up my first sport lead in some time, we didn’t just take turns climbing – but also standing out in the sun, trying to regain sensation in our fingers and toes.

Driving to Bend each day from Smith Rock, we looked up at the volcanic Sisters and Mt. Bachelor, wishing for more snow, just as we did in Tahoe. We pedaled our mountain bikes on singletrack along the Deschutes River, ducked into local breweries (word to the wise, Crux Fermentation Project may be the best brewery in the world) and wandered around town.

Smith Rock, Oregon

The trip ended too early, and we pointed the flying green toaster south as the first drops of a storm began to fall. So many things left to do – backcountry skiing in The Sisters, swimming in the rivers … even more breweries to sample. I have no doubt we’ll be back again soon.


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