Monday, October 31

Summer 2011: Margaret Falls

While the summers are loaded with activities and fun on the family property at Shuswap, sometimes you just need to get away and enjoy another part of the beautiful Okanagan.  Half way through August, such a day rolled around and my brother (the activity planner for the summer) decided it was going to be a trip to Margaret Falls located in Herald Provincial Park near Tappen, British Columbia, a short drive from the cabin.  

We don't all fit in the same car, as we are too many in number, so we divvied up rides, organized snacks, then packed people in and set out.  Once reaching the falls it was time to take the short 15 minute walk from the parking lot to the actual falls, through the gorgeous forest drenched in greens, a flowing stream (Reinecker Creek) and thick forest floor.   

Most of the falls visitors
Nephew Zachary
Zoe and a picture intruder, Sabrina,
who jumps in many photos. 

Brother Teague, the summer event organizer
I was reminded once again that real forests are busy, messy places where trees, vegetation and the like fall to die and are promptly covered in fungi and moss in a delicate chaos.  Nothing ordered and arranged in this small piece of wilderness.

For example this huge fallen tree with Alicia climbing its trunk.

Nephews seeing how far they can climb
As we frolicked about we saw several birds, of which there are 70 types in the area.  We found small worms crawling along the forest floor, soon picked up and crawling along our hands.  We saw people jumping along the creek bed, climbing over fallen tree trunks, landing on slippery rocks and splashing each other in fun.

Crossing one of the bridges
We finally arrived at the 200 foot high falls, whose water cascades down a gulley along a steep cliff.  Not very wide but breathtaking and loud like a thunder storm.

Margaret Falls

Many years ago, several family members came to the same falls to see several people climb into the small pool below and attempt to climb up the falls to enter the small cave about 40 feet from its base.  My dare devil brother Teague and several of his children came prepared with bathing suits and towels ready for the adventure of the watery climb.

I came prepared with tripod and camera ready to practice my photographic skills transforming the chunky waterfall as its heavy contents thundered down a rock cliff, into a captured image of a soft flowing mist of delicate water.  Much of photography is visual manipulation and I was ready to practice these techniques.  

Family near in the pool, near the falls, getting wet.

Margaret Falls, Provincial Park warning: 
"Although there is a warning sign against it, 
numerous people swim in a small pool 
and enjoy a cave directly hidden inside Margaret Falls."

Such warnings are frivolous and are read by my brother as a challenge to which he must rise.  Stripped to the bathing suit layer (the actual bathing suit not the naked kind), a courageous crew (Teague, Nathan, and Alicia) debate their options to get to the cave behind the falls (just to the left of the centre of the falls) and proceed with their first attempt, entering from the left, horizontally climbing towards the cave.

 My brave(?) brother and his two older children attempting
a horizontal climb to the cave behind the falls.

Teague in the middle,
with son Nathan and daughter Alicia

Half way there, the rocks became too slippery and the water too brutal a force to continue.  They three backed up away from the fall to regroup.  Teague remembers that the climbers he has seen reach the cave started at the falls base, not at its side.  The dare devils lower themselves into the pool below the falls and begin to discuss strategy.  Once conversation is over, action is required and Teague beings his climb from the base and succeeds into the falls and disappears into the cave.

Teague on the way up with chunky water.

Teague on the way down with misty water.

Teague descending from his second trip into the cave.
Brother-in-law Tim has joined the brave crew.

His descent is successful and now it is Nathan's turn to climb the slippery rock face as the water beats down.  Nathan is able to navigate the rocks and resist the urge to quit, despite the pressure of the falling water.  Then it is Alicia's turn.  Teague and Nathan stand for a time offering her advice and suggestions as to how to reach the rocks with hands, while maintaining a solid standing grip with her feet.  Even though brave and determined, her height does not allow her a firm grasp of her hands while standing on the rocks.  Perhaps next year she too will see the cave behind the falls after a wee bit of growth.  Tim offers the last climb and succeeds in his attempt.  Brave climbers all.

Alicia, giving all she's got.
It was a wonderful trip, full of leaps of the heart as we watched family members climb up, disappear in the cave, then reemerge and take the precarious climb down.

I enjoyed capturing the event and received a wonderful compliment.  While picking up my developed larger format of the second picture above, a woman walking by stopped, complimented the shot and we proceeded to engage in a discussion of travel and photography.  Wonderful to find kindred spirits and remember an enjoyable day.  

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