The Columbia River Gorge (just as you make your way out of Troutdale, Oregon) is a sight to behold. It’s the Disney World for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts. With so many hiking trails and waterfalls one could get an incredibly sense of what makes Oregon the best of the best in the United States. One such hike I had my eyes set on but at first was hesistent to attempt was Oneonta Gorge.
A hike notorious for its obstacle course path over an unstable logjam and wading through cold water, Oneonta Gorge is the stuff of hiking legend and many Oregoninans make the trek to the site every day in every season. Despite my initial hesitations I began to remember the words of Yoda from The Empire Strikes Back who once said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try”. Was I going to let a bunch of logs and cold water prevent me from conquering the most incredibly of hikes? You bet it wasn’t going to. When the sun rose Wednesday morning, I dressed in a swimsuit, shirt and water shoes, packed my gear up and headed off to the Columbia Gorge – while fighting morning rush hour traffic to get there.
Upon exiting the car in the parking lot near Horsetail Falls, I could feel the beauty of nature shining down upon me. The fresh air as I hiked up the road to the Oneonta Tunnel, I was in nature heaven. A short distance later I came to the famous narrow stairs leading down to the Oneonta Gorge. At this point, going down the stairs not only would leave me with a sense of pride, but also provide the most incredible, life changing adventure I’ve ever been on – and enough memories to retell this story for years to come. And so, down the stairs I went. Within that five minutes, I felt like a new, adventurous person breaking free of any comfort zone I had boxed myself in.
The further I hiked the sooner I came to my first challenge: navigating over two boulders and a tall pile of huge logs to the other side. This logjam was formed by Mother Nature herself as if issuing a challenge to anyone to climb the logs to see the prize on the other side, which was the lower Oneonta Falls. I laughed in the face of danger and began my climb.
Unless one was there personally, this was not an easy feat. With a bit of strategy, some careful walks and scrambling up the logs, and the thought of “take it slow” repeating in my head, I conquered the logjam without suffering a scratch.
Once over the logjam it was wading through ankle deep water…
…and then through waist to chest-high deep cold water while admiring the mossy covered, 5 million year old basalt canyon…
And at the end of the adventure was this…
Lower Oneonta Falls. Regarded as one of the great natural wonders of Oregon. And it was right in front of me.
One can see that for all the luxury vacations, new cars, big homes and huge bank accounts, nothing is more satisfying in life than first-hand witnessing the power and beauty of nature up close and personal. Even during the trip back through the water and over the logjam, I couldn’t help but think of the personal accomplishment I had just achieved with this hike. But most importantly, I viewed the Oneonta Gorge hike as an allegory to life; the logpile representing the struggle people endure to get to the top in both his or her professional and personal lives, and the waist to chest-deep cold water representing the tide of doubt and criticism one endures from others in his or her path to happiness and success in life. It’s an adventure I’ll never forget and one I hope to make a repeat visit in the future.