Sunday, October 21, 2012

Some pictures don't tell the story

Early Sunday morning in a light drizzle, there's no one at the parking lot at the head of the trail to Susan Creek. Before I get the camera gear loaded onto my back, the rain stops.

The wide trail, less than a mile to the Susan Creek Falls, is "accessible," which nowadays means suitable for wheelchairs. It's a total elevation change of maybe 50 feet, but I'd like to see the person who can work a wheelchair up and back. For folks with two working legs, it's neither a hike nor a walk -- it's a stroll.

Just into the woods the car sounds from the highway are muffled but still audible. Suddenly, though, halfway there, you turn a sharp corner and the road noise is gone, replaced by the distant sound of burbling water. Yes, burbling. On the western slope of the Oregon Cascades, water burbles.

Now, last night's mediocre dinner and uneasy sleep in a dump of a motel fade away. Business issues disappear. The forest -- fir, hemlock, pine, oak -- absorb more than sound. It leavens. No, I didn't stop to hug a tree, but it would have been entirely appropriate.

All too soon, maybe 15 minutes into the stroll, the burbling gets louder, the unmistakable sound of small water skidding down a rock face. Two minutes later, and there I am, standing in front of Susan Creek Falls, a 50-foot accidental monument to nature's better work. The air is heavy and cool, smelling of earth and water and life and decay. The photography is superfluous, but it's the ostensible reason I came.

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