Sunday, August 2, 2015

Conquering Fear in Oneonta Gorge

In a previous blog post I told you about a new Meetup group I joined. Early in June I had the opportunity to head out with the group again.

About 2 years ago I heard about a location in the Columbia River Gorge that I had to see. I looked up pictures of Oneonta Gorge on the Internet and read everything I could find. My desire to visit this location grew. But having never been to the location I was reluctant to go alone. This wasn’t your normal hike. This was a hike through a river that at times got 5 feet deep. Not to mention the logjam you had to climb over before you can really begin the hike.

I’d been trying to find someone to go with me for 2 years with no luck. So imagine my excitement when my meetup group decided to go. By the time I went to sign up all the slots were taken so I put my name on the wait list.

A couple weeks before the scheduled day I got the notification that I could go. What was my initial response . . . fear. I immediately thought "I can’t go, I need to decline". I’m not completely sure what triggered my initial fear. Most likely fear of the unknown. I’d never been to the location, I didn’t know what exactly to expect.

After about a day of trying to decide if I should go I realized something. I was letting FEAR GET IN THE WAY of something I had wanted to do for over 2 years!! How ridiculous!!

From that moment I decided I was going, no matter how scared I was. And fear turned into a spirit of adventure.

Once we got to the location, excitement and trepidation intermingled. The logjam was huge. More like a log wall. Because I’m not the most coordinated person, and the logs were wet and slippery, I was a little worried. But I went slow and made it to the other side.

After crossing the log wall, we walked through the river stopping to take photo’s every few feet. It was so much fun to walk through a river instead of on a dusty trail. Even though the water was cold, it was a blast!

Then came the section of the river that was chest deep. I started wading into the deeper water with my camera over my head. As the water slowly rose it was exciting. Then the water got to my chest. I started to panic. (Having nearly drown in high school, water and I are on tenuous terms.) The cold river water felt like a band tightening around my chest and I found it hard to breath. To calm myself down I started talking to myself. “You are ok, you can still touch the ground, just keep breathing” were repeated over and over until I got back to shallow water. It was then I could begin to see the waterfall.

At first it was just hints of the waterfall around the edges of the rock walls. The sound of the waterfall grew louder as we got closer. Then we walked around a corner and there it was. The waterfall was tall and graceful surrounded by the lush green walls of the gorge.  

If I had let my fear control me and stop me from going, I would never have experienced the adventure of hiking through a river, crossing over a logjam and wading through deep water. I would never have seen the waterfall that made the journey worth it. 
                                                                              This photo does not accurately convey the size of the logjam. ;)
                                                            Besides crossing the logjam we also had to cross over random logs laying across the river.
                                                                                   Can you see the hint of waterfall in the photo above?

                                                                                             Looking back over the way we had come.
                                                                                          I had to get one last shot before we left.