Monday, August 28, 2006

The End of Summer

The path to Bridal Veil Falls has been closed for months. Quietly reopened again, so that even though it's one of the falls that are closer than Multnomah, and it was a hot August sunday, there weren't many people there.

Bridal Veil is unique among the Gorge waterfalls in that the trail to the falls goes down, not up; the falls is actually below the highway. We went slowly, on account of Martha's knee; on some of the steeper patches she walked backwards, a trick I learned when my own knee was dodgy. What makes going downhill so hard on knees is that going forwards you come down hard on your uncushioned heel; if you turn around you can come down gently on your toes. Of course, you also can't see where you're going.

Across a little bridge. A miniature promontory stands out into the splash pool. Beyond that is a little protected cove. The sun can't get to it. Cool even on this hot day. A mist of spray wafting over. Dark wet basalt walls on either side. Martha negotiated the climb down, took off her shoes, and soaked her knee in the cold water. Beside her, a couple feet away, was a large frog, glowing green and gold. For a long long time it didn't move at all. We all got to take a good look at it. Eventually it got a little worried, or remembered that this was a frog life, and he was supposed to watch out for predators, and he scuttle-hopped away to disappear into a crevice in the rocks.

Up above, the sun poured green through the thick leaf-canopy. The white falls -- it's really a skitters, not a falls, hence the whiteness of the Veil -- played endlessly, and the pitch black water was lit weirdly and beautifully, at the tips of its little waves, by the green and yellow glints reflected from the shining leaves -- the same color scheme as the frog, and as striking against the black background.

As we usually do at a falls, we didn't talk much. We wandered about, or found rocks to sit on, or climbed up the little headland. There was really only one way to climb, and the handholds were smooth, and gleamed with the oil of thousands of human hands.

On the way back we talked about camping. But we all knew that this, really, was the end of summer. The poison oak was already the red of raw salmon, and since there wasn't much snowmelt left to feed the creeks, the falls were small and quiet.

No comments: