Warren Creek · Columbia River Gorge · Cascade Locks · Oregon · USA
The trials of real life were getting a little taxing. The bureaucratic red tape of work, wearisome. And the thought of waking up each day to more of the same, dispiriting. In dire need of rejuvenation, I set off on a quest for outward introspection, so to speak, by way of a solo February hike to explore a section of Warren Creek upstream from its crossing at the Starvation Ridge Trail. The alluring promise of an unnamed 100-foot falls about three-quarters of a mile up only added to the incentive, but the aftermath of heavy winter rains and winds left the trail in shambles in many places, requiring some manageable but time-consuming four-limb scrambling and butt-sliding over sometimes massive and entangling blowdowns. Footing was sketchy at times to say the least, as rain-saturated soil clung loosely to the slope in places, while decaying leaf litter and the decomposing wood of downed trees belied the insubstantial terrain below. In addition, stride-long sections of the very steep trail up were outright missing as the rootballs of trailside trees simply could no longer resist the torque imposed upon their trunks by erosion, making the going more than a little bit harrowing for someone who hates precarious heights as much as I do.
But persistence paid off as I climbed through, over, and around each obstruction, and a growing sense of peace and contentment crescendoed from within by the time of my arrival at Warren Creek. The trek up the charming stream was soggy and slow going, but it was just what I needed to clear my thoughts, as every footstep entailed deliberation that carried me that much farther away from the demands of everyday life. Although dwindling time and a dicey-looking scramble up a wet canyon wall ultimately kept me from the big falls on this particular day, there were still myriad visual and spiritual delights all along the way like this stretch of pretty little cascades. As it turned out, the leaf litter I’d been cursing for its disequilibrating effects also helped beautify the softly-lit scene—a metaphor, perhaps, for the opportunities afforded us by the tribulations we all have faced and that will continue to punctuate our lives.
Without some degeneration, there can be no regeneration.