Last week the Teen and her friend invited the old parentals on a hike to Cascade Falls to see a beautiful 69 foot waterfall. I looked the place up on the Internet and studied the maps and the hiking trails. By my calculations we could drive for about an hour, hike for about an hour, and return in plenty of time for the younger boys to make it to church camp. It is only a four mile loop. Two miles up and then two miles down. I thought an hour should be just about right with a crisp walk.
We found the trail head, looked at the trail map and the teen’s friend pointed to a lower trail running alongside the river. He said, and I quote, “This trail is supposed to be less strenuous and shorter.” We all agreed and headed out. There was a small notice about rocks and some rough ground. We headed up a slight incline with a few rocks in the road and absolutely beautiful surroundings. Then we crossed a bridge and began the hike alongside the river.
This was not some kind of gently flowing, gurgling, happy river. No, no, this was a white rapids, hurling itself over large boulders kind of river. We walked along and the trail got a little steeper. There were large rock steps in some places and flat out scrambling in other places. We climbed and wove our way around rocks and fallen logs. The green canopy overhead provided shade and beautiful shadows. I stopped every few feet to take pictures. The scenery was indescribable.
When we got to the first bench I took pictures of all the kids and a few selfies with dad. We were not exactly sweating, but we were glowing pretty heavily. I stretched and we set off again. The “trail” became steeper and less trail like. Now we were heaving ourselves up and over large boulders disguised as steps. I was beginning to huff and call on all the Goat gods that I could think of. I begin to sing, “We may never pass this way again…” I told the boys to enjoy the hike because I, for one, would see it this once and never again. I took more pictures and finally, finally, we reached the second bench.
My heart wasn’t racing and I wasn’t out of breath, but my calf muscles were calling out to me. We rested on the bench and we calculated that we had gone about a quarter of a mile. This might take more than an hour. We were up and going again. The “trail” was very rough so we had to be careful where we stepped. After a bit I would “Meh, Mehhhh” to dad and he knew instantly what I meant. The teen was horrified. “Mother…are you making goat noises?” I “meeeehhhed” her way.
After an eternity, dad and I caught up to the kids sitting on a bench beside a large bridge. My hips had joined the calf muscles in the complaint department. We crossed the bridge and there was a sign. Hallelujah! Nearly there! Now, all we had to do was manage to get back down. We limped over to the sign. Halfway! One more mile. What??? And it was supposed to get steeper and rougher. The pre-teen offered to go back with me to the cars.
“Nope. We are going to see this waterfall this one time so you better enjoy it.”
It did get steeper and rougher. The rock steps were getting harder to manage. My thighs were screaming and the back of my legs lost their feeling. On one particular set of steps I placed my foot on the rock and didn’t have the energy to heave myself up. I asked the pre-teen right behind me to please give me a boost. “Put your shoulder right under my booty and give a shove and I think I can do this step.” He gagged and coughed and scrambled around me. Dad came to the rescue and we were on our way. Sweat was pouring, every muscle in my body was quivering, and all I could think about was that I had to use the same muscles to get back down. I was no longer taking pictures because I needed my hands to help me climb. We no longer waited for the benches. We sat on rocks and logs as often as needed. Dad and I were alone. We kept on. One foot in front of another. Finally, the trail narrowed and became slippery – more than before slippery. Several hikers were coming back down and they assured us that it was worth it.
I could hear it long before I saw it and it was worth the wait. It was majestic. The kids got into the water at the base of the waterfall and splashed around. The pre-teen consulted his phone and declared that we would never make it to camp as we spent all morning climbing. He fussed and fretted. I assured him that we would get there, maybe a little late, but we would get there, IF we could manage to get of this cliff.
The trail map showed a different way down that was indeed the “easier, less strenuous path.” I glared at the teen’s friend. He shrugged. In the biggest irony of the day we had to climb huge steps to get to the easier path to go down. At one point my thighbone was shaking so badly I blindly grabbed and got the man standing beside the trail taking a picture. I nearly yanked his shirt off trying to balance, but I made it up that step. He smiled and moved away from the trail. Whew! Made it to the tip top, now we could go down. Straight down. No relief.
My hips were screaming and my toes were crying. Down, down, down we went. Relentlessly down. At the first bench there was a sign. “Thank the Lord!” I cried. I sat down and used the bottom of my shirt to wipe the pouring sweat from my face, “One more mile!”
Dad points to the sign and grimaces. “Nope. We have come three tenths of a mile. 1.7 to go.”
I cursed. I admit it. I cursed out loud and embarrassed the teen yet again. ONE POINT SEVEN miles to go!
I had to call on all of my latent goat and sheep abilities to get down that mountain. But we did get down. A little longer than we first predicted but we had a great time, saw some beautiful scenery, and we were able to get out of bed the next morning.
The Oldies still got it! Whoop!