We left Portland as tourists, but for the rest of our circuit around Oregon, we were wanderers. Not long after returning to Chicago, I picked up Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost to read on my morning commute—subconsciously yearning for a reminder of our drive through swaths of national forestland sans cell service. We knew our destination, and had a sense of our route, but weren’t completely confident of our exact whereabouts.
I’d served as designated driver in the city, so for the next few days, I had the distinct pleasure of switching to the passenger seat. After a detour on foot—we hiked Eagle Creek Trail to Punchbowl Falls, in order to dip our toes in icy river-water—I watched the Columbia River carve the gorge that separates Oregon from Washington. I counted each berry farm and orchard we passed along the Hood River Fruit Loop; I watched Mount Hood disappear and reappear, ever closer, from behind a wall of evergreens.
We emerged from the forested mountains into a rain shadow, where unannounced canyons plunged dramatically away from the road, and scrubland turned golden as the sun sank. We crossed the Warm Springs reservation and drove into Terrebonne as darkness threatened; directly ahead, the silhouetted monolith of Smith Rock sprang up from sea level, making it clear that we’d arrived.
We set up camp in a pristine site surrounded by rock-climbers, and packed up early the next morning to hike Misery Ridge at Smith Rock State Park. In the desert heat, it lived up to its name, but the views justified the pain.
We’d more than earned our breakfast—and for that, we headed to Bend.
Camera: Mamiya 6
Film: Kodak Portra 400