It still surprises me that I have friends that are willing to trek through the woods with me, to places I have never been. It’s always an examination of the pros and cons of going someplace you have never gone before. These adventures always seem to be an exercise in perception. You can read about a hiking trail on the internet, and learn everything you can about what the people before you thought of it’s difficulty and length. This really only leads you to prepare for someone else’s adventure. I always find myself in disagreement with out how people classify trails. What most people call easy, seem more moderate to me. What some people call moderate, I consider a breeze. Everyone’s abilities and fitness levels are different.
On this particular trip, I was expecting an easy 3 minute side trip to the base of the falls. There is a charming log staircase and a bridge crossing the river. It’s painted like a serene walk through some enchanted forest.
For my brave pack of musketeers however, it was more like 10 minutes of fear and falls. The trail hugs the side of a cliff at one point, and is barely wide enough to walk on. Right before the staircase was deceptively steep and caused all of us to fall on our rumps. The staircase looks like death when you first see it. The bridge is really just a large log, with hand railing on the first half only, that is held up by a scary tower of stacked wood blocks.
That “3 minute side trip” was full of adrenaline, gut checks, and moments where we had to choose to ignore our fears and move forward anyway. Even though it was not what we were expecting, I’m glad we had the experience. It was an amazing reminder that there are trails that seem effortless to others, but are uphill climbs for me. It reminded me how much I love the feeling of my heart racing, my hands being clammy, and having to put trust in the world around me that the journey will be worth it.
Something about facing my own fears made that beer at the base of the falls seem like a victorious glass of champagne.
Life is not much different. There is no reason to spend any more time trying to prepare for other people’s journeys. I have no doubt there will be “charming staircases” and river crossings along the way. Contending with those challenges will make the reward worth it. It’s time to suit up and move forward.
You can read all about the specifics of this hike at the Oregon Waterfall Tour.