“It’s only about eight miles around,” Dan said.
“Lets do it,” I responded with enthusiasm, fully trusting my fiancé.
We were at Smith Rock State Park. With the Misery Ridge trail still closed, Dan suggested we hike the perimeter.
“That’s where we’re going. Burma Road.” He pointed off to an upwardly-sloping trail sliced into the side of a rocky mountain—barren, ugly, and in full sun on this warm day.
“Way over there?” I whined. “When you said perimeter, I thought you meant around the bottom of these rock walls.” Wah.
The ascent is slow and steady—at first through juniper trees and sage brush and then the barren stretch that prompted my whining.
But here’s where the unexpected showed up. What looked ugly from the valley below was rocky terrain and hardy brown grasses sprinkled with color.
And of course, we had to stop for photos.
There were silhouettes of juniper against the harsh desert formations. Which meant more photo stops.
And we gaped in awe at the view as we climbed higher and looked down on Misery Ridge. Yep. More pausing for photos.
At the top of Burma Road, we located hard-rock seating overlooking the valley. Sandwiches, apple slices, and homemade oatmeal cookies were washed down with a thermos of tea.
As the trail descended and paralleled the Crooked River, the 350-foot spire known as Monkey Face came into view. Which meant another photo op stop.
Following the Crooked River, we spotted a duck sunning on a rock with her eight ducklings. More photos were snapped until the little fuzz balls plopped into the river and paddled after their mama.
Two large black crows harassed a bald eagle overhead.
An alert deer lapped water from the edge of a small island in the river before fording across to a shady nook.
And with each spotting of wildlife, we stopped to take more photos.
According to Dan’s GPS, we ascended a total of 1,486 feet and trekked 8.6 miles. Which took us several hours.
Not because it was that difficult.
But because … well, you noticed all the stops along the way, right?
“Who knew this would turn out to be one of my favorite hikes?” I marveled, so sure that it would be too warm and no fun.
To which my very wise husband-to-be replied:
Until we’ve been on that road, we don’t know what’s there, what we’re missing … we don’t know until we get there and experience it.
What if we’re complaining in our spirits about what’s ahead because it looks challenging, it looks like something we don’t want to deal with?
But what if we tackled it anyway with as little whine as possible?
And what if we found unexpected beauty along the hard way?