Why Misery Ridge isn’t all that miserable

Yesterday I hiked up to Misery Ridge and sat for a while, doing absolutely nothing. Well, except for munching fistfuls of nuts, and crunching on fruit, and slugging back cool, refreshing water.

All photos: Marlys

My husband, Gary, and I crested this ridge a number of times. Since his passing, I’ve been revisiting some of our favorite trails, and Misery Ridge is one of them.

I’ll confess I had a bit of apprehension in the early morning before leaving home. Not about the actual hike, but about driving to the trailhead alone. And hiking alone.

But the day didn’t end up being anxiety-worthy.

This thought from Marlys—borrowed from Blaise Pascal, a 17th century physicist, inventor, and theologian—who wrote, “Most unhappiness comes from not being able to quietly sit in a room” (but my version is better):

Most unhappiness comes from not being able to quietly sit on top of a ridge.

And so, the reasons Misery Ridge isn’t all that miserable:

4. The trail is a great work-out — my cell phone indicated 4.9 miles and the equivalent of 82 floors.

The dusty trail is strewn with intermittent steps

3. The top of the ridge is the perfect picnic site. Mid-morning toasted almonds, red grapes, and chunks of cantaloupe never tasted better.

2. On the return loop, the trail follows the river and provides some great entertainment as rock climbers edge their way up and down the steep cathedral walls.

1. Misery Ridge affords the opportunity to sit still in God’s unrivaled, astonishing nature.

The view from the northeast side, on the way up to the ridge

This familiar, ancient psalm:

Be still and know that I am God.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the meaning of the original Hebrew for be still. It translates, “to sink, relax, let drop.” This psalm isn’t about being quiet; it’s about relaxing in the presence of God.

Yesterday, I sat on top of a ridge and dropped all my cares, and sank into the sweetness of hanging out with God.

This wisdom from Winnie the Pooh:

Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.

My recommendation for this coming week?

Pack water and snacks or lunch. Find a ridge of your own. (Or front porch swing. Or park bench or fallen log.)



Be still.

Repeat often.

P.S. If you know someone who needs to climb a ridge, please share, tweet or pin!


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  1. Peggy Carey

    love this Marlys, thank you.

  2. Grace Lawson

    Very nice and inspiring indeed !!! As always, thanks for sharing Dear Marlys !!!

  3. Peggy Lukens

    Beautiful Pics! Thanks Marlys for sharing your experience and Winnie the Pooh wisdom!?

  4. Marlys, if you go again on a not-too-strenuous hike, I would love to go with you. In the meantime, maybe I should begin getting in shape so we could go up Misery Ridge.

  5. Cheryl White

    Your the only person I know that makes me want to invest in hiking shoes! I was so glad you added the option of a porch swing! But you have to lace up your shoes to see beautiful views like that!

  6. Julie A Miller

    Well said, and thanks for reminding me of my first hike there. It was right before I moved to CO, deciding whether to accept the job at BOTC. On my own, newly divorced with 2 young children, needing to take a leap. I didn’t really know what it was, just that it was Smith Rock. I got stuck once on a steep climb through some boulders, and it took a lot of breathing and probably some tears to make me continue on. My dad was waiting for me at the end, and it took longer than he thought it should so he was worried. Finishing was liberating, I still remember the feeling.

    Great way to start the week, thanks Marlys!

  7. Peter

    Monkey Face, Smith Rock, Crooked Creek and so much more. If something is so important to you/me, it would be a shame not to share it, this you do and we thank you for taking us to those places. I read your blog, I was there, I was transported and joyous, I feel sure I know how it is for you. On the ‘Across USA’ cycle challenge, John, who did it with me would ask, “Have you got a favourite place yet Pete”. I put off giving him a definite, each day I was in God’s wilderness, where else would I wish to be. Then there was the day we crossed from Kentucky into Virginia and we passed through ‘The Breaks’ (national park)….. there alone, I sat on a large flat rock overlooking a white water rafting creek with eagles swooping/fishing and surrounded by sounds and the autumn colours…… the emotions of ‘being there’ was almost too much…. those feelings, moments are now in songs and I got to take my Barbara there again just a few years later…. why? because I just had to share this piece of heaven with her. Thanks for your shared moments/memories, I really do ‘feel it, smell it etc etc’. Our love, Barbara & Peter.

    • I can picture your ‘ridge-sitting’ venture in The Breaks National Park, Peter. It sounds so perfect, and peaceful, and astonishing – thanks for sharing!

      • Peter Howe B.E.M.


        When I read your blogg and saw these photo’s I was transported… I read Peter’s thoughts regarding ‘The Breaks’ and I thought, “There are times in life when God opens up the gate to heaven for you/me/us and how can we not share with others, such beauty”. Being allowed to experience such moments, I recalled arriving at the rim of Crater Lake and feeling almost emotionally out of control at such beauty, so I was for me too at that flat overhanging rock at The Breaks. Thank you, our love, Barbara & Peter.

        • Well said, Barbara: “There are times in life when God opens up the gate to heaven for you/me/us and how can we not share with others, such beauty”. Thank you!

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