With three hours until sunset, there was just enough time to figure out where I was going, hike up to the falls, take some pictures, and head back. Wrong.
An hour later, likely distracted by the impressive foliage of Jefferson National Forest and an authoritative English accent, I blindly followed that deceitful Brit, Gertrude, off of 460 and onto a two-lane road winding its way up and into the forest.
Fifteen miles of asphalt leaves plenty of time to encounter a sign, another five miles of gravel does not.
|Not near the Cascades.|
I frequently paused along the trail, recognizing my simultaneous desires to linger and return somewhere I'd only just arrived.
A lone fly fisherman stood along the far bank of the stream. Pulling line from the reel, he slowly drew the tip of the rod upwards. With a quick snap of his wrist, the tip shot downward, sending a loop of line rolling across the surface of the deep pool. The fly whipped around, briefly fluttering skyward before delicately landing.
Further upstream, a father waved as he watched his son skip stones.
Around the falls rose steep walls and our voices.
Setting up against the eastern wall, my tripod and I struggled to find steady footing in the stream, each with only one foot on dry ground. Perched only a foot above the water, I anxiously watched my camera, clicking the remote while the other hand remained open, ready to catch the tripod should it be swept downstream.
One minute and five frames later, I grabbed the whole setup and stood safely back on dry stone, unenthused with my results and the water level.
The fading light ushered us to put our shoes back on.
I paused briefly after crossing a bridge, remembering that I'd wanted to climb down to some fallen trees while hiking in. Resolving to just come back someday when we weren't rushed by the sun, I wearily continued onward.
"You don't know when you'll be back."
I turned around and climbed down from the trail in response to the frank words.
The following five minutes were expensive.
It was dark at 7:15. Our eyes adjusted, reducing our surroundings to desaturated shades of grey. Just one mile down either trail separated us from the car. The lower trail, continuing just over a bridge, was essentially unnavigable in the dark and the easy upper trail was nowhere to be found. Oops.
Get outside. Get lost. It's good for you.