Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Halloween We Miss You

October at Smith Rock

Andrew and I After our Second Pitch.

Climbing at Smith

Smith Rock Through the Brush

Sunrise at Smith Over the Crooked River

My cousin Andrew and I descended, or ascended, upon Smith Rock last weekend for a beautiful climbing and camping trip. Smith Rock is located in central Oregon and if you look back a few posts ago, was one of the first places Alyssa and I stopped in our initial jaunt across our new home, Oregon.
Smith is the birth place of modern American sport climbing and with more routes then I could think to fit into our weekend we made our journey east to central Oregon. We arrived late and laid ourselves under the stars next to the Crooked River in the $4 a night Bivouac camping area across the river from the cliffs. The Crooked, which meanders through the park and sits just below the gold and pink walls is not often fished within the park limits but is a popular fly fishing river upstream.
Smith has a great history and even greater climbs. The rock here is tuff and basalt, known for its texture. After a few routes of searching for foot holds I came to the realization like every climber eventually does at Smith, that there are foot holds everywhere. The rock, when looked at closely resembles some make-shift organic concrete that set up before it was smoothed out with small pebbles protruding from it's surface. This may be because of the geological history of the area and that tuff is technically consolidated volcanic ash common to the central Oregon area. The marble sized pebbles that sit sticking out of every inch of the walls surface are hard to identify at first to those who are not used to using miniature pebbles as sturdy unyielding stairs. Once identified as such you are on your way to becoming part of the ardent community that prevails at Smith. The local climbing "bums" who spend their time mesmerized by the jagged peaks that rise from the shores of the Crooked and out of the dust of the desert terrain are like most Oregonians, very welcoming. These climbers were more than willing to give me beta (a climbing term for information) when my guide book would seem to fail me or when I would fail it. An example of the gracious fun loving attitude can be seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzPqNRVu6-w where a local, Joel Sprenger dressed as Santa Claus, slack lines across the top of Smith Rock to the mouth of one of the most popular multi-pitch routes in the country, Monkey Face.
Smith Rock is one of the most unique and inspiring places to climb in the country with sport and trad climbing that will challenge the best of climbers. The community is welcoming and fun, and the weather is almost always dry which creates close to year round access.
I highly recommend taking the desert roads and heading to Smith. If not to climb the hiking in the area is beautiful as well.



Monday, October 13, 2008

Fly Fishing: The Crooked River and the Metolious

The Metolious River

The Crooked River

Ron and the Red Side

I met the husband of one of Alyssa's bosses at a dietetics potluck the other day and he asked me if I would be interested in going fly fishing with him. Little did I know the trip would turn into a 6am to 10pm all day fishapalooza. He did show me two great rivers though, The Crooked in central Oregon and The Metolious in the high Cascades. It turned out that I had a great time and that Ron was a great guy. The Metolious is world famous for its fish and I hooked into a big one but snapped him off a soon as I hooked him. Otherwise, I caught one fish all day and it was on The Crooked river at about 1pm. The fish is what is referred to as a Red Side and is a unique to Oregon version of the Rainbow trout. Above are some of the pics. Including a picture of Ron with a Red Side that he caught on a tiny black and yellow nymph.



Saturday, October 4, 2008

coffee, wine, and beer

That's what the Pacific Northwest is all about. It is not hard to find someone who is passionate about coffee, wine, and beer around here. Every street in town is littered with drive thru coffee stops and I think Starbucks owns at least 50% of city real estate in OR. Today Connor and I made our first wine tour around the outskirts of Salem. (And not a drop went in the spit bucket, mind you). The Willamette Valley wine region is rapidly growing in popularity, and becoming known for their pinots, due to the shorter growing season. We thought it was about time to see what the fuss was about.

The valley is beautiful and just right for all sorts of crops not just grapes. Much of the produce that we buy comes from less then 25 miles away. The farmer's markets this time of year are overflowing with peaches, berries, apples, and pears, all grown in this region. Yummy!

I guess the rainy season is almost underway so we have a few more sunny weekends that we must make the most of.

Keep in touch.

Alyssa and Connor.