Smith Rock Highline Festival 2017

A Beautiful Day In The Sky

Smith Rock Highline Festival 2017

The van is parked and the stoke is high! The 2nd annual Smith Rock Highline Festival is upon us. I gather my camelbak and head for the trail. Not even a minute into my walk I see my friend Jacob Handwerker. We exchange hugs, I meet his friend, and we discuss the navigation necessary to reach Skylight highline. The journey is off to a great start so far! As I continue to make my way down the trail, I see a collection of breath-taking mountains. Amongst them are hundreds of climbing routes, hiking trails, and yes, mind-blowing highlines. Before crossing the river to get to the base of Misery Ridge Trail, I look up. To the far left I see a little green dot and to the far right a little red dot, both floating in space.

Smith Rock Highline Festival 2017 - SLACKROBATS
The beauty of Smith Rocks. And look close, you can see a floating highliner!

The highliners are in full swing, literally. You can hear the hoots and howls of slackers riding out their whips. Swinging from their leashes attached to lines hundreds of feet in the air. The sounds of fun fuel my ascent up the many switch backs that stand between me and my highline adventures. That energy carries me to the top of the ridge, where I pause and look around. It’s been a rough wildfire season and the smoke has been relentless lately in central Oregon, including here in Terrebonne. Luck should have it that visibility was pretty good this day. I soaked in the 360 degree view and smiled at all the beautiful cliffs–that I could actually see surrounding me.

Teaming Up With Friends…Old + New

As I made my way to the first group of slackers I heard, I crossed paths with more friends. A couple of them were heading out, but my buddy Lucas was heading to the same line I was on my way to. We teamed up and made our way through the sage brush and winding trails to go session Skylight. Maybe I should mention now, that I only plan to be on this adventure for 2 for 3 hours, so lines with no lines (Haha, get it?) are best.

Smith Rock Highline Festival 2017 - SLACKROBATS
Just some Slackers giving some love and support to the highline walker.

As Lucas and I arrive at Skylight, we discover only one person waiting to get on, a sweet woman by the name of Alena (I hope I’m spelling her name correctly). We add our name to the mental list (since no one is writing it down) and take a seat to relax. Alena mentioned earlier that she was only planning on sitting on the highline–not quite ready to take her first stand. I glance over in time to see Alena surpass her own expectations as she attempts to stand on the line. It’s moments like that, when people push pass their comfort zones, that inspire me the most.

Walking The Skylight

Lucas set the bar high. He got out there and quickly made friends with Skylight. You could tell by the time he got off the line he was stoked. He totally crushed it, making it to all the way to the far anchor and back. Now it’s my turn, and for a moment I considered not getting on the line. Thankfully my friend Eric  (the Skylight rigger) nudged me in the right direction. He said I couldn’t leave until I got on that line. Thanks for the encouragement Eric! 

Smith Rock Highline Festival 2017 - SLACKROBATS
Lucas Bax cruising across Skylight

I crossed the line, did a couple of yoga poses and did an exposure stand until I whipped. Then got back up and walked off the end feeling accomplished. The whipper was necessary because I want to train myself to do them more often. I usually catch the line when falling, even when it’s better to whip. My bruised arms and legs are not happy with me after highline sessions. So, getting really comfortable with whips is on the list. After walking on Skylight it was pretty much time for me to go. My few hours of play time had passed…and my plan was to split off from the group and catch the main trail down to the parking lot.

Life Happens While You’re Busy Making Plans

On the way out I spotted more slackers, some I knew and some I hadn’t officially meet yet. One such person being Brendan (@barefootbodhi). I spotted him by his man-bun about 150 feet away! We shared hugs and joined up with Maui Chris and Tamar. That’s when we all realized Wizards Cap highline was just sitting there empty. Needless to say my plans of leaving did not work out. Instead we all played on Wizards Cap until it was nearly dark. Then it was really time to go…

Smith Rock Highline Festival 2017 - SLACKROBATS
Brendan DeVincent( @barefootbodhi ) walking across Wizards Cap, his first highline send ever!

Finally, four hours after I planned on leaving originally, I was heading home. This is one of those times I’m really glad I let go of my plans and just let life happen. Thank you to all the friends, new and old, for playing and being a part of my 2017 Smith Rock Highline Festival experience. I’m already looking forward to next year.

Smith Rock Highline Festival 2017 - SLACKROBATS
Trying to blend in with the trees, can you see me?

A big shout out to Mark Warren (@markofthedesert) for organizing this years event and to all the volunteers who helped him put up and take down lines. Thank you all for your time, energy and highline stoke!



Buddy Thomas