Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Magical Oregon Trip September 2019 - Day 3

The city is magic, but Oregon nature? It truly overwhelms me, in the very best of ways.

Bryonie came and picked us up at Ruby's the morning of the third day of my trip, and we headed out to the Columbia River Gorge (a scenic stretch of highway by the river that divides Oregon and Washington, with dozens of waterfalls, large and small, all within a half hour of winding road). First, we stopped off at a patisserie Bryonie recommended (she and I had gone there last year together, and I remembered liking it!) and as we got out of our car, an older woman sitting at a table outside called out "you are such lovely faeries!"

(sigh) Oh, to live in a city where people "get" the energy we are trying to give out. I cannot tell you how many times in my home city I've had people try to peg me down in my daily wear (like the outfit I'm wearing above) by calling it "hippie," "renn faire," "Jesus," or a confused "why are you dressed like that?" Gosh it was such a refreshing change.

I told Bryonie and Shveta that I really wanted to visit Fairy Falls, which was up a hike from Wahkeena Falls. It's my favorite waterfall in the gorge, but I haven't been there since I was eighteen or so. I remembered that the hike was vaguely exhausting when I did it all those years ago. What I failed to remember, and failed to notice on the below website, was that the trail wasn't just vaguely exhausting: it was 1,500 feet of elevation gain in a mile and three quarters. That meant switchbacks every 50 feet or so with crazy stupid inclines up a cliff face.

I had a bit of a suspicion going into this forest walk that I might possibly get emotional over going back to the gorge for the first time in almost twenty years. You see, the Columbia River Gorge was where I first started exploring myself as my own person, my beliefs, my love of nature and its magics, way back in late high school when my then boyfriend (from Corbett) and I would go to the gorge and spend all day walking and sitting and communing with nature quietly, writing in our journals and just being emotional, spiritual late teens.

So I suspected I might be a bit emotional. But I didn't expect to burst into tears the moment I stepped out of the car and saw Wahkeena Falls.

Thankfully I was with two soulmate sister dear friends, who were absolutely understanding of me.

The synchronicities of this trip continued, by the way, as Bryonie opened the trunk of her car and showed us a pair of wings (made by Toby!) she'd brought with her in case we wanted to take pictures in the gorge. The coincidence of this was...I recently bought my own first pair of wings, and almost brought them with me on the trip for the exact same purpose. I decided at the last minute that they were too delicate and I was too nervous bringing them, even if I kept them in my carry on, but that she had the same thought and made it happen anyway...pure magic!!

I'm pretty sure at this point we weren't even to Wahkeena Falls yet, but you can see the elevation has already increased.

Three trolls disguised as boulders looked down at us from above. You may fool some, dear trolls, but we are used to the fey, we see who you really are.

When I was in high school, my then boyfriend and I had a deeply spiritual experience at a waterfall in the gorge with a bridge that stood right in front of it, so close that you could feel the water hit your face as you passed. When I asked if we could go to Fairy Falls, it was without realizing that this waterfall was Wahkeena, and we would be walking right by it. Seeing it again stirred up so many memories. And the blackened, jutting remains of a tree right near it was just a strong and powerful reminder that though I've been through a lot since I last stood before this waterfall, I am also strong...I am resilient, and I contain the same magic, indeed, perhaps even more, than I did then.

It was a strong and powerful message I was contemplating, and my dear friends gave me the space and time to be in that moment.

They did both capture it though...Shveta in this video:

And Bryonie in this photo, which I love so very much I plan to frame it for my wall.

I had brought my phone tripod with me, and we set it on the bridge to get this photo of all of us.

Up, up, up the trail we went, huffing and puffing and pausing occasionally. Much deep and meaningful conversation was had as well. There's something about these forests in the gorge that invite people to have really wonderful and magical conversation, and I was so thankful to be there with two dear kindred friends. A few times along the way, hikers stopped to compliment our fairy ensembles, and one or two hikers even took our photo.

The elevation increased and increased...

Until finally we came to the lookout where the switchbacks ended (at least the long line of them did). We stopped for a moment to rest, and Shveta asked us a fun and thought-provoking what-if question (which might just turn into a short story she may write, so it will remain a mystery) we discussed for a while as we admired this view, our reward for that steep climb.

It was a bit heartbreaking to see some of the blackened trees on our hike. Thankfully this part of the gorge had damage, but the treetops were still green, so death and life mingled together.

Bryonie took this beautiful photo of Shveta and I hugging each other, framed by the blackened trees. Life, and love, endure!

Finally at this point in the trail, even though we were still on a steady incline, we started seeing the tumbling, rumbling stream, dancing alongside the pathway with us. The air grew cooler, and it was easier going. And I knew, I just knew, that around any corner, we'd see Fairy Falls.

We stopped at a beautiful small bridge where the water tumbled from rock to rock, almost like its own little waterfall or display. Bryonie noticed the blackened roots of a tree that were quite beautiful. We took turns wearing the fairy wings for photos, and when I went to take Bryonie's picture, I noticed this little Froudian faerie fellow looking right at us with his keen eye.

So of course much posing with this fun fellow ensued.

A hiker walked by and offered to take our photo together, so we agreed happily.

The view from the lovely little bridge right by the roots:

A little bit further, and we made it to another bridge. A young couple was coming down the trail from the opposite direction, so we stopped them and asked if they had passed Fairy Falls, and how much further it was.

"Oh, not far. About another mile."

"Of flat trail?"

"No, pretty much all like this...."


We had already been on the trail for about an hour and a half, and we looked at each other, quickly realizing that, with our time constraints, we would not be visiting Fairy Falls.

Instead, we sat down on the bridge to rest, and to talk some more.

As we sat there on the bridge, much like you see above, a hiker came along, and good-naturedly exclaimed "oh! Bridge trolls! I don't have any money for a toll!"

Shveta immediately responded. "That's ok, just tell us one wonderful thing that happened to you today."

"Why, meeting you fine ladies of course!"

"Then the toll is met! Pass on sir!"

(I kid you not, this exchange truly and actually did happen)

Looking at the part of the tumbling stream near the bridge, I realized it looked possible to make my way out to a fallen mossy log in the middle of the water. So Bryonie and I did so, and took more faerie photos. Isn't she SO pixie-ish?

My favorite picture from the log:

The water was absolutely freezing cold on my feet, and when I reached the shore, they were a bright crayola red. 

With the cold temperature of the water in mind, I had to include this picture of Bryonie trying a pose with her feet in the water. "HOW do you manage to look so tranquil with your feet in this cold water?!" she exclaimed.

"A lot of practice," I laughed.

With the sun glowing in the sky, we made our way back down the trail.

Passing portals we hadn't noticed before...

And admiring the sun in the trees.

And the moss everywhere.

That morning, when Bryonie came to pick us up, she brought a gift for me. She had read and heard my story of the encounter I had with the faeries last year on the Oregon beach while looking for a seeing stone, and brought me one she found on the beach.

I also picked up a piece of rock at the waterfall on our way back to the car, to remember this wonderful and magical trip with two dear friends.

We took the afternoon nice and slow. After stopping by Blue Star donuts to pick up a couple of fancy sugary treats to go, (we ate one that afternoon, and one the next morning a piece, and oh my gosh, I've never loved donuts more) we stopped by The Fernie Brae to pick up a couple of things, and then Shveta and I ate lunch at a nearby "grapes" (crepes) shop on Hawthorne. It was delicious! We went back to the room, relaxed for a little while, and then went back out for Indian food for dinner. We didn't have much appetite since lunch was still in our bellies, but what we didn't eat, we reheated the next day for lunch (and it was SO good. Note...I love Tikka Masala)

The only bummer was the Mango Lassi, which I'd been craving. It was "off," so I didn't finish it. But honestly, it was the only "off" thing in this entire day of magic. I couldn't have asked for a better day, full of magic and fellowship, and the healing that only nature can bring.


  1. At least perhaps you don't get asked if you're Amish! Really!?? And what a wonderful, beautiful, magical trip...

  2. I've made that climb to Fairy Falls. It was during the winter and there were bits of snow and ice on or near the trail. We didn't ever decide whether the highest waterfall we saw was actually Fairy Falls or if we hadn't climbed high enough. But it was a lovely hike nontheless. I recognized Wahkeena Falls from your photos immediately. Did you stop at Latourell Falls? I have the most amazing photo of my son standing beneath it, it really shows the size of the falls. I loved the photo of Bryonie with cold feet, LOL! And I had the most wonderful meal at that crepe place with my granddaughter. I'm so heartened to see the green there, I haven't been to the gorge since the fire.