I set out on a solo backpacking overnight. When I headed off-trail in the direction of the waterfalls, I had to negotiate my way over blowdowns, briars, and icy patches. I was glad I'd kept my pack relatively light (in contrast to the last few months as I've been trying to carry more weight to prepare for the PCT). I really appreciate the high level of engagement required for off-trail travel-- getting to read the landscape to find your own path. There are still false starts and backtracking, so the going can be slow, but this trip wasn't about covering miles or winning any speed records.
|Oh my, how will I get down there?!?!|
|What a gorgeous waterfall!|
|Another hidden falls!|
If I saw a falls like this from an established trail, it wouldn’t spark such enthusiasm. Sure we need accessible trails, but we also need trail-less areas and places that aren’t on the maps. The idea of building a trail or boardwalk to these falls makes me cringe. Their beauty was exceptional precisely because of they were difficult to access.
Places like this that are mostly untouched capture the imagination. For daydreaming when I'm stuck in a city. For keeping me excited about new places. For keeping my eyes and ears peeled for hints of what lays beyond the edge of view. When I'm heading down an established trail and hop across a little babbling stream, I can imagine that a few hundred feet down, joining other streams, there are falls tumbling into a waterfall valley of wonder.
As I crawled my way back up the cliffs, I did my best to try to not leave even footprints (easier in theory than in practice!). I didn't want to rob the next person of the feeling of going out into uncharted territory (also this article on LNT and bushwhacking).
So... you may have figured already that I am not going to tell you where this exact place is. The important thing is knowing that it's OUT THERE. If you need to go somewhere like this, I am certain you can find it, or something like it.
|Saved the biggest falls for the next morning.|
|It really did get cold overnight- forecast said 15-degrees. Look at the ice!|
Here is where I normally tell you the maps and guidebooks that provide info on the route. Instead, check out these inspiring books:
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
-My all-time favorite book. Inspiring and irreverent. About many things including our relationship with nature. Will make you want to visit Utah and the southwest.
Backwood Ethics by Laura and Guy Waterman
-Includes chapters are on fires, thru hiking, bushwhacking and the history of Leave-No-Trace (LNT) ethics. This book explains the variability in why people get out and the benefits of different approaches- especially helpful when trying to figure how we can all get along in the backcountry.
Listening for Coyote: A Walk Across Oregon's Wilderness by William Sullivan
-Sullivan made his own path across Oregon and writes about his journey and the interesting people he meets, and mixes in views on wilderness and land use. Inspiring!