If I told you I went to a place with epic views that people travel thousands of miles to see, but chose to ignore those views, would you think I was nuts?
Ok, so maybe you think I’m a tad nuts anyway, but seriously, this is the Colombia Gorge we’re talking about. Dramatic views, towering cliffs, waterfalls hundreds of feet high, hiking trails to die for – this not the sort of place where you consider the views and go, “meh.”
And to sweeten the pot, it was the first chance we had to hike the place since the disastrous fires of Sept 2017. We were eager to get back to our old playground, to stretch our legs with an old friend, to see how much damage there really was from the fires. The trail we would hike had been closed for over a year – we were apprehensive.
But it wasn’t from horror that I averted my eyes from the grand views. The fire damage wasn’t that extensive on the trail, although we did see patches of burned-out tree stands and the occasional blackened, ashy stump.
No, it was something else that caused me to bow my head, casting my gaze downward.
I could argue it was humility, feeling awe at the power and extent of nature, and wonder at the new growth already present after the fires. But that wasn’t it.
You might think it was shame, from some sin I had committed against my fellow hikers, overwhelming even the grandeur surrounding me.
And I wasn’t feeling particularly introverted that day. (Besides, there’s no truth to the rumor that introverts recognize each other by their shoes.)
The reason for my downward gaze was more prosaic. I had a new toy.
This hike occurred early last December. I had just gifted myself an early Christmas present, a used 105mm telephoto with macro focus capability, when a hiking/photography friend hit me up with the option of hiking a newly opened gorge trail along with our wives. It was a no-brainer. Check out the trail, try out the lens.
Some of you may recall a post back in May called “Getting Close.” In it, I introduced my interest in the smaller world, the world of beauty hidden in my backyard, the world of macro photography. For pictures in that post, I used extension tubes and a cheap light source to get up close and personal. But I didn’t enjoy getting that close; the lens was only an inch or two from the subject, and it’s something of a one-note song.
I opted to upgrade. The 105 gives me a nice telephoto (150mm full-frame equivalent), and the chance to get anything from what you might see with 3x binoculars to in-your-face and inspect the eyelashes close.
Enough blather. Let’s cut to the chase. Getting down, taking the small view in epic view countryside.
I forgot to mention, it surprised us to discover the gorge had a light coating of snow beginning about 100 vertical feet above the trailhead. This background gave the trail a whole different feel than what we’ve enjoyed on our more typical summer outings.
I’ll just shut up for a while and let you hike along in peace…
Ahem. Pardon the interruption. I have a rule of thumb that suggests I don’t post more than 10-12 pictures at a time. And although I have more shots from this hike, we’ll just have to save them for another post. Hope you don’t mind waiting…