Upwards and upwards we climbed towards the valley rim. Patty turned back (someone has to turn back on all the best quests or it’s not a proper quest, so she took one for the team), but Terry, Leslie and I pushed on. We crossed the river on a wooden bridge where Terry and Leslie tried, with mixed success, to instruct me in the gentle art of selfies so that I could get a picture of the water in the background foaming over tumbled grey rocks (or not…see below), and climbed some more until we reached the approach to the falls.
In spring when the flow is at its fiercest walkers need to put on waterproofs at this point to protect themselves from the spray and there’s no way you could leave the path. In autumn the flow was much less but still beautiful. The falls were a slim line of white dropping into a deep basin at the base, where the rising mist caught the sun in nets of rainbows. It was cameras agogo for pretty much everyone. There are metal railings along the path to stop Darwin awards candidates from trying to get a closer look, and I’m sure that in spring I would have stayed the right side of them, as a river in spate is not to be trifled with. As it was, a number of us climbed over and made our way down relatively well-worn trails almost to the lip of the basin.
At this point I’ll take a slight diversion to mention my shoes. I was wearing Keens walking shoes, which I bought after owning several pairs of Keens water sandals. There is an actual link here, since the first pair of Keens I owned were bought in San Francisco during the weekend I spent there after the Grand Canyon trip on which I met Leslie, Patty and Terry, having seen and admired Terry’s Keens during the trip. The whole trip we were in and on the water, so the advice from the tour company was to bring sandals which one could wear in the river, and I had a pair of Tevas, which are very good walking sandals.
However, the Keens were even better, since they had been designed for Colorado raftsmen (really), were made out of neoprene with huge thick soles and bumpers across the toes to protect feet from the rocks. Plus they came in a range of gorgeous colours; Terry’s were a delightful shade of dark blue. I was deeply covetous of them, although even if I had managed to bump her off and dump her body in the river sans sandals one dark night it would not have done me any good, as her feet are a lot smaller than mine. (And she is a really fabulous person and a good friend. Also murdering people is wrong, even for their lovely sandals. So a bad idea all round, really).
What I did do during the weekend I subsequently spent in San Francisco was to hunt desperately for a pair of Keens of my own. They were (are, for I still have them) bright green, as that was the only colour in my size; my feet are big and the sandals are bigger, so when wearing them I looked a bit froggy, but I didn’t care – my very own Keens! This was, of course, back in the day, before globalisation had fully got its claws into us and Keens were at that point unknown in England although now they are common and lots of people wear them. The downside to this march of everything everywhere is that one has somewhat lost the delightful novelty of travelling to a foreign city and finding the shops full of things and brands one would never see at home (yes, Eddie Bauer, I’m looking at you). The upside is that I now have three pairs of Keens. I still own the original froggy pair, now much repaired but still going strong (Keens are wonderful if you like a sustainable product, as they provide replacement fastening cords for their shoes free of charge and also a link to a helpful YouTube video which demonstrates how to fit them). In addition I also have two other pairs, one bright pink and one purple. I lust after a berry red pair but feel that four sets of Keens is possibly a bit much for one person, even for one who likes Keens as much as I do.
More shoe (and waterfall) related stuff tomorrow!