Oneonta Gorge: Up to Our Necks

Oh gee it’s up to my knee.

Oh my, it’s up to my thigh.

Oh [expletive] it’s up to my neck.

Oneota Gorge 04.02.2016
The view down the gorge. 50mm / ISO 250 / SS 1/320 / f 1.8

That’s the point where I lost my breath. Where my skin started to scream. And where the shortest in our party had to swim for it.

It started out cold, it was cold during, and it was cold on the way out. But, call me crazy and maybe it was just my extremities going numb in early hypothermic stages, I felt an odd sort of warmth. Not in my fingers or toes.

The Oneonta Gorge is a neat place. My buds and I (and a new homie, Lauren) thought we would check the classic spot off of the low-hanging fruit list after a Mt. St Helens expedition got scratched for the weekend.

Oneota Gorge 04.02.2016-4
The trio making their way up the river, navigating from one shallow spot to the next. 50mm / ISO 250 / SS 1/250 / f 1.8

We took a lap that was 3.5 miles or so to a couple waterfalls and they were nice. The riddles we solved were not as nice. Have you heard the riddle of the blue and brown-eyed people on an island who escape if they figure out their eye color? Well it’s basically impossible without hints. And Soren solved it in about 10 seconds. Unbelievable. It took me two hours on a recent road trip.

But that’s not near the highlight of this excursion. The highlight started in ankle deep water.

Oneota Gorge 04.02.2016-3
The shoes were condemned to be water-logged for the following few days. 50mm / ISO 250 / SS 1/250 / f 1.8

There’s a big sign that lets everybody in the area know where the Oneota Gorge is. If it weren’t there you might walk right past it. Nestled behind some logs and boulder is the entrance to a slot canyon. The walls are 100-200 feet tall (my best guess), covered in moss (looks like an oversaturated photo), and at their base is a little creek (practically frozen-it felt like). The water is only shin-deep most of the way up. But there’s a part about 3/4 in to the .6 mile hike where it gets 5 feet deep – deep enough for your head to barely pop out of the water like a snorkel.

I described the sensation a bit earlier and I think that guys will be able to relate to this the most. You know, when you’re trudging into deeper and deeper water that’s rising towards the waist…a pit likes to form in your stomach in those moments.

But we made it through and put on layers as quickly as possible afterwards. Then, waiting at the end like a delicious cookie in a cookie jar, a waterfall appears.

Oneota Gorge 04.02.2016-8
The sweet reward at the top of the gorge. HDR / 17mm / ISO 100 / 5 exposures / f 22

Awesome. A place designed by a superior being. As pretty as it was, we could only last as long as we could last (not very in that water). After taking it in for longer than was comfortable, we turned around for the trek home.

Thankfully the current was flowing with us on the way back out.

 

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