Oregon is a beautiful but lonely state. It’s rare that the friends you meet in the east will just happen to stumble through. When it does happen you must not let the opportunity slip past.
That is why, when I saw on Instagram that my friends Heidi and Kristi Mast were in Portland, I drove two hours to Multnomah Falls to hang out with them. On a school day. I told my brother “hey, I’m not going to go to school today,” and he left without me. Then I got in my car and drove to Multnomah falls.
Yes, it was that lovely.
Of all the breathtakingly beautiful places in the Cascade Mountains, Multnomah Falls, being right off of I-84, is one of the easiest to access. I’d come several times before, always for a slight rest during a road trip from one location to another. Never just for itself.
I got to Multnomah Falls before the others, and wondered around marveling at how pretty it was for about fifteen minutes, before the others showed up. Heidi and Kristi’s Instagram feeds had been full to bursting with lovely pictures of Oregon, and it made me think about how much of the beauty I take for granted.
Then they pulled up, piling out of the car, giving me hugs. Besides Heidi and Kristi, they had brought their friend Emily Yutzy along, and their cousin Amanda, from Idaho, was there too.
“Is there a trail that goes all the way to the top?” Heidi asked me.
“I don’t think so,” I said. If there was, I’d certainly never hiked it. Multnomah Falls is the second-tallest year-round waterfall in the United States, so the top of the waterfall was WAY up there.
However, it turns out I was wrong. I suppose the people I road-tripped with in the past did not particularly feel like making such a climb, but as Heidi, Kristi, Amanda, Emily Y, and I had come for strictly tourist purposes, we decided to try.
It was beautiful. The mid-May climate had turned everything green, and certain switchbacks gave us lovely views of the Columbia river. As I was in the company of photographers, much photographic evidence of the astonishing beauty was captured.
At the end of the trail we spent a few dizzying minutes on the observation platform at the very top of the falls, gazing at the water tumbling down, down, splashing into the depths below. Then we went off trail, following the mountain stream back into the woods.
The world was quiet here. At the bottom of the falls we had seen lots of people, probably stopping in for a break from their road trip the way I’ve done in the past. On the trail we saw some people, though not a great deal. Here, back in the woods beside the river, we were alone. We spread a blanket on the rocks, took our sandals off, and relaxed.
There we had a picnic of sorts. The water was, quite literally, mountain spring water, and so we washed our food in it and drank it and sat around sharing a meal of peaches and plums and kombucha.
Heidi and Kristi are the type of friends who, even if I don’t see them for years and years, we never have any trouble finding things to talk and laugh about. The sunlight sparkled on the water. Cool winds blew through the mountains. I wanted to saver the loveliness of friends, and kombucha, and mountain spring water.
“Heidi?” I asked.
“Do you mind if I use some of your pictures for my blog post?” She has the knack, I’ve observed, for using her camera to capture the real beauty of a place, whereas when I take a picture it always looks rather flat compared to the whole thing.
“Of course I don’t mind!” she said.
“Good. Because I’m thinking I should do a blog series of beautiful places in Oregon that people should think about visiting.”
“I think that’s a great idea,” said Heidi.
As it got near supper time, we decided to leave, and I hugged my old friends and my new friends goodbye.
True to her word, Heidi sent me her pictures when she got back home. I’m glad she did. When it comes to words, there isn’t a lot to say about Multnomah Falls. How many times can you re-use the word “beautiful?”
Pictures, however, when taken by a skilled photographer, capture the essence of a place quite nicely.