2022 Oregon Trip

Monday, June 20


The sun chose a perfect day to make it's first appearance of the trip. Today was sunrise at Smith Rock--my favorite location around Bend. Smith Rock is best known as a rock climber's paradise. There are over 1500 climbing routes around Smith Rock on only 650 acres of land.

Last time we camped in Bend, Carol decided to sleep in and missed some of the best shots of the trip. Since I had shot here last time, we knew about the huge ridge that blocks the sun from lighting up the canyon until nearly an hour after sunrise. In 2019, I left camp at 3:30 a.m. This time we knew better and timed our arrival to be shortly after sunrise. We drove to North Point where we could photograph the Crooked River from above as it meandered by Smith Rock. We watched the sunlight slowly creep down the side of Smith Rock until it finally filled the canyon. That was our clue that it was time to return to the Explorer and drive over to the main visitor area where we could hike down the Canyon Trail.

Smith Rock State Park Smith Rock State Park Smith Rock State Park

When we reached the bottom of the canyon and crossed the bridge, the trail was nearly level as it followed the river. Short offshoots toward the canyon walls took the climbers to the many climbing routes along the trail. By 9:00, climbers could be seen all along the trail scaling the steep, canyon walls.

We were more interested in the nearly perfect reflections in the Crooked River and all the shades of green of the vegetation that framed the river and provided a foreground to the photographs of the Smith Rock walls. Like those of us strolling down the trail, the river was in no hurry to get anywhere. Its shallow water and slow flow made it a perfect habitat for ducks, geese, and herons. It seemed like we stopped every few feet to photograph something new or from a slightly different angle. And when we turned around to hike back out of the canyon, we photographed them again. It was a gorgeous day, and Smith Rock is an amazing place to take a leisurely stroll.

Smith Rock State Park Smith Rock State Park

We got back to camp about noon, so we had lunch and relaxed. I decided to return to the Sparks Lake area to shoot in better light, and Carol chose to stay in camp and have a leisurely afternoon before we have to move again tomorrow.

I left for the Cascade Lakes area a little after 4:30, and reached Mt. Bachelor about 5:30. We tried to shoot Mt. Bachelor on our two previous trips, but the view from the west was always completely obscured by clouds. Today, Mt. Bachelor and the Sisters were all showing off their snow-capped peaks. It was a good day to shoot in the meadows with Mt Bachelor in the background, but my main goal was to find the classic shot of the Sisters from the Ray Atkeson Trail at Sparks Lake. This was my third try. I thought it would be easy this time. I found the trail without any problem, but I didn't count on the amount of snow still on the ground and "hiding" the trail to the classic view. I had to stop a few times and walk around to see where the trail continued. I missed by trail junction to the viewpoint, and eventually had to turn around and hike back out before I got caught in the dark. That lost time also made me lose my chance to shoot the meandering stream in the meadow with a clear shot of the Sisters in the background. I just needed one more hour... It's been that kind of trip so far.