I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Friday, June 21, 2013

Yep, a few more waterfall photos... and a beautiful old mountain.

One Saturday, June 8th, "D" and I actually got in the truck TOGETHER and drove to Starvation Creek Falls (no one really starved).  Even though "D" was still trying to justify her decision to sell the camper, she really felt much better (an a lot lighter) about the whole thing and I could see that she was going to be OK.
We pulled into the parking lot at the Starvation Creek trail head and Peter was waiting for all of us in his car.
Today we would see and photograph four more waterfalls and Mt. Hood from Trillium Lake at sunset.
(I hope I have these Falls and photos have the right names. If anyone who lives up there finds a name that doesn't fit a waterfall, quietly email me and let me know what I did. I don't want to look like I don't know where I was. That would be embarrassing.)
On Wordless Wednesday I posted some photos of Starvation Creek. The falls are seen from quite a distance up the creek. This creek is so beauty. I used a fast speed to get this water so silky and blurred. Here is a good link for those of you who would like to shoot better water shots.

This is Cabin Creek Falls and one of my favorites.

It's behind a huge basalt boulder (not the one you see in the photo. It's huge and blocks the falls from view.) You have to climb around the boulder and hike over lots of downed trees to get to it.

Then we walked to Hole in the Wall Falls. 
This use to be called Warren Falls but in the late 1930's the state diverted the fall because it was causing rocks slides and water problems for the new scenic highway that was being built. You can read about it here.

 I passed on another hike. I stayed here at Hole in the Wall and took more photos while the others walked across a footbridge and hiked up to Lancaster Falls. This was just one fall too many for me.
We returned to the parking lot and drove into Hood River for lunch.the five of us sat outside on a deck and ordered a really good lunch.  Good conversation and great weather.

The next drive was a longer one. We drove south out of Hood River on highway 35 toward Mt Hood. This is a beautiful drive and goes through a lovely valley and then into the mountains.
We made a stop at Little Zig Zag Falls and I took a nap in the truck. I just couldn't do one more fall. I was dragging. Yesterday's hike had finally caught up with me. It felt good to close my eyes and rest next to a lovely creek, and old bridge... the peace and quiet... the beautiful stillness... with an outhouse nearby.
 I tried to sleep. Then, out of nowhere, one by one, came a boy on a bicycle, two more cars with hikers, a woman on a golf cart with two young people who were in their wedding attire. The girl even had a bouquet of long stemmed roses.
I thought I was alone, in the middle of nowhere and here came all this activity. Amazing.
The "golf cart" woman was a photographer. She pose the two young people on the bridge and in front of the wild Rhododendrons that were blooming all over the place. Must have been beautiful photos for their wedding book.
Then they got back into the golf cart and left.
Where do you suppose they came from? Where did they go?  A golf cart isn't allowed on a highway. There must be more to this place than met my eyes.
Within an hour, my group returned from Little Zig Zag and we made plans to meet at Trillium Lake . Mt. Hood at sunset was next on our agenda.
 "D" and I spent quite a while photographing the wildflowers, especially the wild rhododendrons, then we went back out to the highway. We turned north, then south and wandered around in the Trillium Lake campground for a while, LOST, looking for the parking lot. Finally we found it and parked. We still had plenty of light. There were lots of people around. Some were leaving and some were fishing, barbecuing and having a good time. It's was so pretty there.... and across the lake with the sun shining on it was Mt. Hood, in all its glory. This is an amazingly beautiful mountain.
We couldn't fine Peter so we called him and he told us where he was and how to get there. Yes, the cell phones worked there. Truly astonishing.
We walked around the east side of the lake on a boardwalk and finally saw Peter and Amy, but no Gary.
He had gotten lost trying to find the lake and decided to go back to Portland where his wife was waiting for him. I"m sorry he missed this shoot. The mountain was clear, snow covered and reflecting itself in the lake.
We set up our tripods and started shooting.
Watching the sun set west of Mt. Hood was awesome.  The water was calm at first because there wasn't any wind. Then, the wind started altering the reflection in the lake.
 And the sun lowered...casting shadows on the lake and darkness on the east side of the mountain.
What beauty there is in a mountain. The earth heaves, the wind and water erode, and the earth below pushes up through it, every few hundred years or so, depositing more igneous debris.
 Mt Hood is a Stratovolcano and is more than 500,000 years old. It's an interesting old mountain that is said to be "potentially active" but considered dormant. Here's some info.

The wind removed the image of the mountain from the lake.
 The darkness shadowed the trail back to the car.
And the fragrance of campfires filled the air.
This was a magical time. The last light of the sun slowly slid up the west side of the mountain and disappeared into the sky.
 "For it's just that I see mountains once again as mountains,
And waters once again as waters." ~Ching-yuan~

We packed up and returned to our cars. The drive back to Troutdale was long and the darkness came fast.
We found the correct turn off and finally pulled into the motel. It was a long day. A thousand photographs later we found ourselves too tired to sort through them and went to sleep filled with dreams of snow covered mountains and abundant water.

(All of these photos were taken with a Nikon D5100 and a Tamron 10-24mm F/3.6-4.5 lens.)


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Long Hike... with fragile, old feet.

The hike to the triple falls of Middle Oneonta Falls was deceptively manageable... at first.
This was the first section coming from the parking lot.
The guys were ahead of us. The fun has just begun and the path looked like easy going.
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 came to many small waterfall areas that were within hand rinsing reach and they gave me a reason to stop and catch my breath. At one point our fearless leader, Peter, who was ahead of us, called out, "Look, it's the falls." I knew we had not gone more that a quarter of a mile, so I didn't understand what he meant. The triple falls were one mile from the parking lot and unless this was a magical forest, we were not there yet. Peter was laughing when I reached the "waterfall". It was a tiny "fall" of water coming down the hillside and running over the rocky path. It wasn't our destination, but this was the comic relief we all needed.
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. 
New growth on the tips of the branches make the forest shine with promise. You can see, in an area where man only comes to visit, that the less man impacts an area the more beautiful it is. When you limit man's ability to affect nature, you let it become what it was intended for. There's balance... and that's stewardship. We need these places.
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.
 These three days were not only going to teach me a skill, they were also going to teach me something about myself. Pushing my limits physically is not something that I have done for a long time. I almost drowned last summer, at Lake Tahoe, thinking I could still swim like I did in my 30's. The water was scary for me and getting back to shore a struggle. I remember the awful feeling of fatigue while I was swimming to shore. I made it back, but I promised myself that I would never go that far again.
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.
In her euphoria, she forgot that she must retrace her steps.

We walked another trail around to the bridge crossing the river and looked at the falls from the top.

Yes, that's another crazy youngster, or two, standing on the edge of doom.
What are they thinking ? Is this about challenging yourself too... only the "twenty something" version? If they were my boys, I would have had a heart attack right then and there. I could just see one of them slipping on some mossy rocks and going over the edge. I wanted to yell something to them. But, I could just hear what they might say to each other...
"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.
See that very green rock?
I believe it was radioactive.
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.
Just this...
and this...
and a bumper falling off of Amy's car because she backed up and pulled away from a stone parking wall. We were amazed at how it snapped back on.
 It's all kind of vague.
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.





Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Camper called Epiphany.

Again I have to preface this post with the fact that my dear friend "D", who would have been there for me, did not join us on the first day of the workshop. Not that she could have magically gotten me from point A to point B on our hike to Middle Oneonta Falls, but just having her there would have, somehow, given me more of a "Put on your big girl pants and don't whine." attitude. Considering that she was dealing with an RV supply store in Gresham, I figured I had better just continue on, as planned and stop sniveling.
Her simple plan was to buy a turn crank that we lost (never to be found again) in downtown Portland. We stopped at a wonderful photography store and decided to put our other cameras and equipment under the camper's mattress for safe keeping.We raised the camper, put the cameras under the bedding, lowered the camper and closed the door. When we got back to the motel we went to retrieve the cameras and realized that the crank was missing. We retraced our steps but failed to find the crank. We tore the camper apart but nothing turned up. This turned into a day and a half ordeal that ended in the selling of the camper to the dealer in Gresham.
She and I removed the camper from the truck (a Herculean feat in itself) that night. We worked on detaching it until almost midnight. We were able to lift the top up by hand and retrieve some camera equipment that we needed for the next day, but we couldn't get it back down without the crank. We couldn't drive the truck to the RV place with the top up, so we had to remove the camper completely.
She dropped me off at the meeting place the next morning and I went on with the workshop group and she drove to Gresham to pick up a new crank.We had a plan. She would met up with us in a few hours.
On the way to Gresham, she lost one of the connector plates (one of four) that holds the turnbuckle and chains keeping the camper on the truck. It was a busy freeway... cars swerved to avoid the piece of metal... and that is when my friend decided that life was too short for this kind of stress and anxiety. She had an epiphany. She got to the RV place and told the owner that she wanted to sell the camper and if he wanted it, it was his for a price. He would have to come to the Troutdale Comfort Inn and pick it up. He said he would buy it, sight unseen.
So she went back to the hotel until he arrived and emptied the camper. He came and picked it up.  Then she took some generic Ibuprofen and slept for a few hours. Traveling, by herself, from Montana had taken its toll too. She needed to rest.
When I called the Prospector, his only comment after " Are you two OK?" and "You took the camper off
the truck? By yourselves?" was, "Woman!... camping!" Actually, I believe this was the first comment. After that, he wanted all the details.
"D"s husband was more sympathetic and understanding. He was amazed that we removed the camper too, but he gave "D" the moral support that she really needed. She wasn't able to talk to him at the RV place. He was not home so she made the decision on her own. Phones don't always connect you to a river somewhere in Montana.  Sometimes you have to make the final decision all by yourself. It's one of those things that you don't often do without your partner's input.
 "Oh, by the way, you know that camper I left home with? Well, I sold it."
 No guts, no glory.  "D" knew that one more day with that camper was one more day that something else could go wrong and she wasn't willing to take the chance. I say... good for her.
So, like I said, this trip taught us a lot about ourselves and our limits as older women. We like to think that we can do the things that we were capable of in our youth, but the reality is we are physically and emotionally different now. I learned that my friend that I grew up with and always looked up to, is a vulnerable, older woman now. She still makes quick decisions and looks for adventures, but she understands that sometimes you have to lighten your load, take a different road and find that place where you feel in control again. 
We continued on, the next day, with a lighter frame of mind and all our worldly goods tied down with tarps and duck tape. We looked kind of like the Joad family in the Grapes of Wrath, only our truck was much nicer. We had bottled water, toilet paper and raisin bread from Costco... and now we could see behind the truck when backing up. This was a great advantage on the rest of the trip.
 Everything that was in the camper had to come with us. We did have a back seat in the cab that was huge and where we put all of our valuables. This was a four door, heavy duty Toyota Tundra that never failed us. The cost of the trip went up a bit because we stayed in hotels instead of RV parks and campsites. but we decided that we liked the luxury of a bath and a warm room to crash in every night... especially after the waterfall hikes... especially on the Oregon coast. We adapted nicely.
I had pictures of the hike to Oneonta Falls but I will save them for another post. The story needs to be told... another day. It's about MY epiphany and the reality of ones limitations as we age.
"D" and I are both home, safe and sound. Life moves on and we (as you will see in the next few posts) had a wonderful time... after the camper incident.

Happy Father's Day to all of you who made the choice to be fathers and to those who worked hard at it.
Happy Father's Day to our dear son who loves and takes care of our grandchildren.
Happy Father's Day to my old Prospector. You raised our boys well. They stand on their own feet and have become good human beings. Love you.