Our destination is Gooseberry Falls. In spite of the shutdown and though it is approaching evening, there are several dozen cars parked on the side of the highway and the park is a hive of activity. We forego the upper falls for a walk to the middle and lower falls. The rainy, hot summer has made them more beautiful than ever. The water tumbles over the rocks with power and speed, and the foliage around them is stunningly lush. The tranquil pools at the base of the falls are inviting on a warm evening. Once again, the smell of pines is overwhelming. We are blessed to live so close to this beautiful place.
Our mission is not just one of sightseeing. This will be the site of Dave (our son) and Erin’s wedding in October. We wanted to scout out their location and get some pictures for their wedding website. We check the sign. Agate Beach, location of the actual ceremony is “that way.” So we begin hiking. Along the way, we turn and look back toward the falls. The scenery is amazing! I don’t think we have ever walked in this part of the park. For most tourists, the falls are the destination. The rest goes unvisited. And unappreciated. How often do we miss the spectacular because we settle for the accessible?
We can no longer hear, or see, the falls. We continue walking; Shaina now protests each step of the way. She falls further behind and we have to backtrack to get her to move along. I wish I had brought a cattle prod. Or a whip. We continue walking “that way” toward Agate Beach, silent now, and mindful of the lengthening shadows. Shaina lags behind again, slowing our pace and testing our nerves with her protests. Then Bruce begins to join in the protest. “Just how far is this, exactly?” he asks. “There is no way I’m walking this far for the wedding!” I stop to check a posted park map. “You Are Here.” I look for Agate Beach. It’s still “that way.” Wow, it doesn’t look like we’ve made much progress. I gauge how far we have walked and realize we are not yet halfway. That’s when I notice on the sign that the parking lot for Agate Beach is not the same as the one for the falls.
The good news is Bruce won’t have to walk far on the wedding day. The bad news is that I’ve led them on a wild goose chase. We’ll never make it to Agate Beach and back before dark at the pace we are going. We begin to trek back to the car, taking a much flatter path (thank you God!) along the ridge above the river. I turn and look behind me. Bruce’s jaw is set; Shaina is signing hurt and holding her back and her knee. I fear I will hear about my mistake all the way to the resort.
Sigh… I turn forward and walk a little faster, making mental plans for my rendezvous with the bottle of Renuzit.