This was the first section coming from the parking lot.
I'm not sure what I was thinking. I guess I wasn't. I could hear the highway noise and a train went by. It all seemed quite doable.
At the first switch back, the trail got considerably steeper. In retrospect, I wonder why I didn't take more photos as I climbed the trail. The setting was so beautiful.
We passed some folks that looks thankful for the return trip down hill. We exchanged hello's and continued on. As the highway noise disappeared the sounds of the forest became a marvelous distraction from the distress of my tired feet and legs. The beauty of this place was a factor in the budding motivation that I needed to continue on.
This was an enchantingly beautiful place. These ferns seemed to reach out to us as we walked by.
Somewhere beyond the halfway point I decided that "one foot in front of the other" was more like a mind game that I was going to have to play with myself. One of the men in the group, who decided to join me, was in a similar state. His name was Gary. He seemed to have a more Zen approach to what was fast becoming an ordeal. He was my age, had bad foot problems and yet, he kept talking to me and encouraging me to move ahead. We drank lots of water, stopped periodically to give our feet a rest, and then continued on up the gorge toward the falls. Even the conversation became a tool of incentive and distracted us from the rigors of the climb.
We saw some beautiful flowers.
And, at one point, we hear a water fall... but it was the lower of the three falls in the gorge and not the one that marked our destination.
The path became rockier, steeper and, once in a while, it would level off. I felt like these level areas were little gifts that made me appreciate this immense effort I was making. At one point some young college age kids came down, laughing and running, nodding to us as they flew by. I felt very old at this point.
Then, when I didn't think I could take one more step, I heard Peter ( leader of the pack). He said "We're here."
I crawled over some rocks, to the edge of a huge cliff and there before us was the Middle Oneonta Falls.
It was breathtaking. I was dizzy and had to sit down. My legs were doing some kind of muscle dance and cramping up. I stretched them out, drank more water, felt a little better, then set up my tripod.
These young kids came down past us. They laughed and goofed off, ate some lunch, dangled over the edge and acted silly about being so close to a major drop off the edge of the world.
This was way steeper than it looks in the pictures. You can see how the two older and wiser guys (on the left) are leaning away from the drop off while setting up a tripod... and how the kids are so matter of fact and relaxed.
Youngsters have no fear.
Take a look at this.
Yep! Two girls... on the very top of the waterfall.
Finally, we had the place to ourselves. We set up the tripods, ate a Fiber One bar and took some photos of this amazing place. I was slowly getting my mojo back.
The flora and fauna of this area is so lush and beautiful.
As we sat there listening to Peter talking about about camera skills, ISO, focal points and framing, I realized how important this workshop was to me.
Learning my limits as an older woman. Testing what I can and cannot do. These are the moments that teach me more that any classroom could ever instruct. But, the pride of doing something like this, knowing that I can hike a mile up hill without having a heart attack or falling off the edge of a cliff, is HUGE.
That this 68 year old was still capable of this kind of physical accomplishment made her day... that is until she turned around and looked at the road back.
We walked another trail around to the bridge crossing the river and looked at the falls from the top.
"What's that crazy lady saying? Get off the rocks? Is she nuts?"
They finally left and I relaxed... and they didn't die.
This is looking up river from the bridge.
I have never seen moss so green. It was ELECTRIC GREEN. I have done nothing to augment the color. This was just what we saw. I'm sure it was some new organism that will spread and wreak havoc on the world. But for now, it's just an amazing anomaly in the middle of the Oneonta river.
We started back back down the trail. It was going to be a piece of cake. Right? It's all downhill.
How very wrong we were.
For our thirty something mother of six, with bad knees, it was very painful and she stopped frequently, to ease the pain. For myself and Gary, it was again, the feet. We both had good hiking shoes on, but having neuropthy (he did) and neuromas (I did) on already sore and tired feet it was like walking on fire. The rocks were sharp and my legs were starting to jump with muscle spasms again.
Good grief! This was suppose to be the easy part.
Peter, our wonderful guide and teacher, took my camera and my tripod. I told him I was all right but he insisted. He said that this is what "Sherpas" do. Bless his heart. I guess he was worried about me. I must have looked worse that I thought. I was trying to put up a good front, but my legs were vibrating and he kept telling me to drink more water. I actually felt so bad that I wasn't even embarrassed. I just wanted the hike to end.
One foot in front of the other... one more switch back... where are the others... don't fall... keep going.
Where is my new friend with the bad feet? Did he stop somewhere or did he put himself in overdrive and speed down the path. He was nowhere to be seen.
Down, down, down... we moved toward the familiar noise of the highway and I was seeing light at the end of the trail.
Down, down, down... finally I heard someone say... "This is the last turn." Peter was right behind me.
It was. There ahead of me was the parking lot of my dreams. We had reached the promised land.
I was afraid to stop... or sit... or try to get into the car. I walked around for a while and realized that Gary was still not with us. A while later he came down the trail. He said he had gone ahead of us and made a wrong turn. He had gone to another waterfall before he realized he was in the wrong place but he found his way back and was all right. His wife, who waited for us in the parking lot reading a good book, (smart lady) was relieved. We all were.
We ate ice cream at the Multnomah Falls concession and continued on to Horsetail Falls. This was right on the highway and there was no hiking involved. I was bushed. I mean totally wiped.
We stayed there for about 30 to 40 minutes. I don't remember much.
I was driven back to my home away from home in Troutdale. "D" was there, waiting. She was on the phone with her hubby, so I removed my shoes, carefully, making sure that my feet didn't come off with my socks. I started some bath water and sat on the edge of the tub with my feet under the running water.
OH, I can't tell you how good this felt. I was there for quite a while. I didn't trust myself to take a bath yet. I might have gone to sleep and drowned. That would have been a less that auspicious end to a rather amazing day.
I dried my feet and fell onto my bed, head first. I heard "D" laugh.
Tomorrow we would meet at Starvation Creek Falls. I wondered what connotation that name might have.
Another day to learn something about myself. Another day to learn... something... about...
postscript: I found a video of two young men hiking the same trail we did. The call themselves the Trail Dudes. If you have a few minutes and you're thinking about doing this. Please watch the video. Please remember that these "dudes" are probably about 20 years old.
These photos, for those of you who care to know, were taken with a Nikon D5100 and a Tamron SP AF 10-24mm wide angle lens for Nikon cameras. The ISO was usually at 400, F/20. Exposure times varied.
I shot RAW and JPEG. and aperture setting or auto. I didn't trust my manual skills enough yet.
This was a three day Waterfalls of the Columbia River Workshop offered by Peter West Carey in Portland.