Dreaming Out Loud
Wahclella Falls · Tanner Creek · Columbia River Gorge · Bonneville · Oregon · USA
Third-Century Chinese philosopher Han Feizi wrote of a man peddling a spear and a shield, adorning each with ultimately contradictory embellishments. The spear, he said, could pierce any shield; the shield, meanwhile, could thwart any spear. When asked for the anticipated outcome if his spear were to clash with his shield, he of course had no answer. It perhaps is the origin of the paradoxical clash between an irresistible force and an immovable object. The paradox, of course, cannot hold. Something must give.
Wahclella Falls stands as beautifully dramatic testament to this, as over the millenia the unrelenting waters of Tanner Creek have worn a deep gash in the seemingly immutable walls laid down by the massive basalt flood that formed the Columbia Gorge Basalt Group (covering 163,700 km² and measuring up to 1.8-km thick) during the late Miocene Epoch some 14-17 million years ago. The lower tier of the falls plunges 24m, constantly kicking up troublesome mist that makes close-up photos a daunting challenge. The 15m upper tier is out of view around the bend of the canyon wall on the right, while the seasonal cascade visible here above the lower tier T-bones the main stream during times of high flood.
Wahclella's always represented a challenge for me to photograph. On the one hand, you can't help but stand in awe before the plunge pool and marvel at the power of the cataract, even as the cool mist quickly weighs down your lashes and robs you of unblurred sight. This time out, though, we took the scene in from a bit of distance as the sinking sun sent streams of celestial light through the trees lining the canyon, like Zeus running his fingers through Gaia's verdant locks.