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Sunday, June 8, 2008


The trails that loop around and behind the Silver Falls State Park waterfalls are a kind of compromise between experiencing the beauty of the wilderness and going to something like a waterfall museum. It’s the difference between capturing a glimpse of a wild bear on a hike and studying it in a cage at a zoo.

Because there are so many people - so many feet impacting the soil - erosion can easily get out of hand if the masses wander too far from a carefully prescribed path. The solution to destructive environmental impact appears to be a generous contribution of railings and stonework that ultimately shape a kind of habitrail that allows selected viewing of natural spectacles but limits and controls any actual exposure to them.

In other words, we’ve long reached a point where we have to ration wilderness, at which point it doesn’t really seem to be wilderness any more.

The big “South Waterfall”
It’s still kind of pretty though.

Waterfall Pilgrimage

Obligatory plant close-up

Lower South Falls?

Honestly, I picked up a map at the pay station when I drove into the park, but the map only kind of shows the trails and it doesn’t have any waterfalls on it, so you have to rely on trail signs to identify the falls. Turns out I didn’t take any notes and I have a pretty crappy memory, so take my designations with a grain of salt.

Incidentally, it was about here that I started getting frustrated with being confined to the trail. I kept thinking that just about anyone with a camera can go on this trail and get the same shots from the same viewpoints (all other variables being equal). So how does one go about finding a creative, novel angle that isn’t already reproduced in a million photo albums without becoming something of a wilderness trespasser and environmental saboteur?

I don’t know that I came up with a very good answer, but I did start thinking about how I usually go to extremes to make it look like my nature photos don’t have people in them, and that got me thinking about how that’s really kind of un-natural. And then I got to thinking about how really, I was in a giant laboratory perfectly suited for studying how people react to scenic beauty.

If the previous picture was Lower South Falls, then this one’s behind Lower South Falls.

This one too, but from the other side…and not so much behind.

At Double Falls, I watched the falling water cast a spell on these youngsters.

Whatever the waterfall whispers, it must be subtle, because not everybody seems to hear it at first…

Middle North Falls

North Falls

Behind North Falls

1 comment:

  1. Excellent photos! Through your capture of light, motion, and perspective you have been successful at eliciting the sence of awe.


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