Survivor of the Fall by Tula Top

Mossy Grotto Falls (Lower Ruckel Creek Falls) · Ruckel Creek · Columbia River Gorge · Bonneville · Oregon · USA

  • Canon 5DII · 16-35mm f/2.8L II · CPL
  • 16mm · f/16 · 4s – 15s · ISO 50
  • Four images tone mapped in Photomatix Pro · refined in CS5
    (Oh, give it a go large!)

Physician and passionate nature photographer based out of Portland, Oregon, USA.

For unframed prints and other products, please visit my portfolio and store here.

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  • Tula Top
    Tula Topabout 3 years ago

    Mom’s gonna kill me.

    You see, I kinda told her a little white lie, but I did it with the best of intentions. After a great hike to Pacific Crest Falls and beyond on a Saturday, she asked me if I was planning to hike again on Sunday, with the intent of joining me if I was going. I initially told her yes, but that she was staying home to rest her plantar fasciitis, which already on Saturday was giving her problems on the return trip. But I get the stubbornness gene from somewhere, and she kept insisting she was going, too. So—again, in her best interest—I told her I’d changed my mind and was going to stay home to tend to chores, process new photos, and exercise in the gym. How great a son am I to enact such sacrifice??

    Well, after I’d dropped her off on Saturday, I contemplated the circumstances again: The first warm and sunny weekend that coincided with a weekend off ALL YEAR was upon me, and next weekend I’d be back on call again, stuck within cell tower range of the city. I HAD to go hiking. And I would’ve told Mom except that I knew she’d either insist on going, too, or she’d freak out about where I’d decided I was going—which happened to be the site of her scary incident a few months earlier. But she needn’t have worried even if she knew. Her unfortuante experience had made me wise, and I had a plan this time around: I’ll bring some rope with me in case I need it, especially since I’ll be going it alone. (I was still within cell phone range, however, and I did notify a friend about where to direct the search and rescue effort in case things went wrong…)

    Well, the problem with plans—even the really, really good ones—is that they’re only as good as the idiots charged with executing them. On this occasion, that idiot happened to be yours truly. See, that first step that caused Mom’s tumble months ago is the definition of a “doozy,” being situated at the base of a massive Douglas fir jutting up from a 45-degree embankment at the edge of a vast boulder field. Over the years the soil has been eroded out a bit from under the roots of the tree on its downhill-facing side, so the first step down entails navigating the resultant waist-high ledge onto variably loose soil. But hey, not to worry: I’ve got rope!

    So I sat at the uphill-facing base of this 4- or 5-foot-diameter tree and proceeded to cramp my brain thinking about how exactly I would manage to get the rope all the way around it, given the lack of 6-foot-long arms and any branches within reach overhead. So plan: gather the end of the rope into a jumbled weighted mass and tie it up, then whip it around the tree so momentum would bring it around full circle. Simple physics, sheer genius, veni, vidi, vici. And so, channeling my inner Tygra, I give the weighted end a few twirls and unleash the end of the rope with near-supersonic velocity. However, after the third time glimpsing the end of the rope tantalizingly emerge from the opposite side of the tree but ultimately falling waaaaay short of its desired destination, the inner idiot smacked his inner forehead and considered turning back, inner tail tucked between his inner legs.

    But something compelled the inner idiot on. With a few kicks into the soil, some grabbing of exposed roots, and a little bit of my world-renown ‘butt-cheek shimmy,’ I managed to steady my descent and eventually touch my leading foot down on earth, sweet earth. Neil Armstrong would’ve been proud. Though still dicey, the going was considerably easier from there, and I finally made my way down to the promised land of Mossy Grotto Fall’s verdant, secluded canyon. I decided to start composing from a distance and work my way in closer, and as I was about to wrap things up, I spied this relic of autumn resting perfectly on a mossy boulder. How it survived the cold season AND find it’s way there, I have no idea. It was the only pristine maple leaf I saw on the whole trip, and I figured it was written in the stars that I was to find it.

    And so by now, after reading this tedious narrative, you’ll hopefully appreciate the titular double entendre, even though I wasn’t the one who fell and the fall didn’t occur on this trip. But the poignancy struck me the moment I saw the leaf here in the midst of Spring. Idiocy works in mysterious ways. Good thing for me.

    Oh, and Mom, sorry for misleading you. Hope the foot’s better!

  • Chris Ferrell
    Chris Ferrellabout 3 years ago

    What a good son, great shot

  • That’s what I say, man. Thanks! :)

    – Tula Top

  • ManRayFan
    ManRayFanabout 3 years ago

    Great story Tula! I love this shot. Great composition!

  • A welcome visit, my friend! Thanks and cheers. :)

    – Tula Top

    JUSTARTabout 3 years ago

    beautiful work

  • Kind thanks, Sylvia. :)

    – Tula Top

  • julie08
    julie08about 3 years ago

    Wonderful work :)

  • Thank you, Julie. :)

    – Tula Top

  • Larry Trupp
    Larry Truppabout 3 years ago

    Very nice capture…love the greenery throughout

  • Thank you very much, Larry…and to think the ferns are just barely sprouting at this point!

    – Tula Top

  • Robin King
    Robin Kingabout 3 years ago

    Oh, my gosh this is GORGEOUS!!!!!!!!

  • Thanks again, Robin! Greatly appreciated. :)

    – Tula Top

  • Akkra
    Akkraabout 3 years ago

    Awww… lying to your mother… she’ll make you pay :D This is a really superb shot though!

  • Lol, no kidding…she won’t let me get away with this one, even if it was for her OWN GOOD… Thanks again, Zoe. :)

    – Tula Top

  • swaby
    swabyabout 3 years ago

    So rich in color and beauty Tula! Another Paradise! A one well written story!

  • Thanks for the comment and reading, too, Tina!

    – Tula Top

  • Mark Williams
    Mark Williamsabout 3 years ago

    Superb work Tula!

  • Thanks, Mark! Always good to see you, my friend.

    – Tula Top

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