…To escape myself, and I walked another mile to be alone with my thoughts, and I walked a mile after that to achieve a goal. Along the way I discovered, again, that my baggage goes with me on every journey I take, that my thoughts have no substance that I don’t give them myself, and that goals are chosen – often rather randomly (and sometimes achieving them fails to satisfy). 🙂

The thought of a goal, of a  destination, is no more real than any other thought.

The thought of a goal, of a destination, is no more real than any other thought.

I was excited to read that there is now a public transportation option to reach Multnomah Falls – how cool is that?! I was also fairly earnestly needing some time away in the trees… The opportunity seemed a good fit, and I took it.

The map is not the world. The fantasy is not the reality.

The map is not the world. The fantasy is not the reality.

It was a crowded trip over on a shuttle bus just filled to bursting with corporate douchebags on vacation. What is it that makes people just keep talking louder in a noisy place, thereby increasing the volume and density of the wall of noise? What makes videos on cell phones more interesting than beautiful mountain scenery? What makes a firm, over-confident, absolutely-no-risk-of-error tone of voice so often associated with colossal bores and aggravating asshats? lol By the time the shuttle pulled into the parking lot, I knew a great deal more about many of my traveling companions than I cared to, and was already bored with the movies some of them are purportedly making. lol (And, for what’s it’s worth, Dude, although I didn’t say so in-real-time, it’s really just not actually any of your business what her career choices are, or what they are ‘about’, and I sure wish you could have stopped yourself dissecting them because I’m pretty sure the woman you were insulting ‘behind her back’ was the one sitting close enough to hear you, based on her silent, visibly evident fury as you spoke.) Have I bitched enough about the shuttle ride? I could also take a moment to mention how awesomely convenient it was, and how pleasant and skilled the drivers were. 🙂

Hey, Everyone - look at this! lol

Hey, Everyone – look at this! lol

I’d forgotten that the ‘real’ reason I rarely travel to these trails is less about distance or convenience, and more about crowding. As with any popular landmark or location, Multnomah Falls is crowded. Really crowded. In spite of the rain that poured continuously from the moment the shuttle pulled away, this water fall is so popular that dense crowds line even the narrow rocky trail beyond the first walk-up view-point, and the bridge above it, too. Even at the top of the falls, a slippery, rainy, steep mile high or so, the crowds were…crowding. It was a first-rate opportunity to see how well (or poorly) our society works together… some parents gently/firmly cautioning their kids to stay on the trail (as also directed by signage), others completely disregarding their feral offspring darting here and there between moving adults, on and off the trails, over and around barriers, walking the tops of walls, running, jumping, shouting… Yeah, I didn’t find it a particularly pleasant hike. I struggled to find balance, peace, stillness – the trees themselves seemed impatient with the noise. And it rained. It rained hard enough, continuously enough, that not only did I need the rain gear I inevitably stuff into my pack, but also hard enough that my camera wasn’t very useful.

In spite of aggravation all around, there is still beauty.

In spite of aggravation all around, there is still beauty.

I found myself relying heavily on practices for managing stress. Finding any quiet spot was a challenge.

There is time for beauty - I only have to take the time I need to enjoy it.

There is time for beauty – I only have to take the time I need to enjoy it.

With the rain falling, it was difficult to make the best use of my camera, and I found that to be one actually okay thing about the day’s hike; I was there every moment. 🙂

So many people looking at the same thing, taking the same pictures...

So many people looking at the same thing, taking the same pictures…

By far the best pictures from yesterday’s hike were all the many pictures I simply couldn’t take because of the rain; they are the memories of the moments, and the day, and at least for now they are as clear and sharp as any photograph. “Wow” sights that would be difficult to photograph (for me)… bits of jovial conversation among strangers on a rainy crowded trail… the smell of wildflowers… laughter… and a couple good miles toward my fitness goals, all worth experiencing, no camera required.

I headed home much sooner than I might have, had the location been quiet, comfortable, and less (much less) crowded. The shuttle back was quieter; most people riding it clearly were not the sort to spend many miles on their feet, and there was a lot of napping going on. I enjoyed the quiet, and the scenery.

One last picture.

One last picture…my favorite of the day, taken by mistake while I fussed with the camera to take a different picture altogether – that didn’t turn out. There’s a metaphor in there, somewhere. 🙂

The rain continued to fall… until I stepped off the light rail, close to home.

It was an unsatisfying hike, as hikes go. It was a peculiar day, spent crowded together with strangers – when I had been seeking solitude and peace. How very strange to make the choices I did. I sip my coffee and consider it further; it seems clear I could have anticipated all the details that were uncomfortable, and could easily have chosen differently. What was I thinking? It’s not a matter of discontent – and I’m not actually ‘bitching’, more… curious. It was an interesting adventure – and I realize as I consider the day in the context of living life that it has more value that I thought to give it, initially; I now know how easily I can reach those more distant gorge trails – and that’s pretty sweet. Just beyond the crowds? The wilderness. 🙂

Eventually, steps add up to miles, miles add up to distance, and distance traveled eventually becomes a lifetime of experience. I still have to take all the steps, do the verbs, practice the practices… and some days it rains. 🙂