!!11 August finds us at Antinouri Falls in the Jacquet River Gorge Protected Natural Area, having followed Don and Martin along a track with huge mud puddles, and up and down through thick forest for over an hour of steady going - our destination the waterfall on the brook that flows into Antinouri Lake. It is beautiful here, but I can't take time to bathe my face in the pool at the bottom, or lie back on the forest floor, listening to the rushing water - Kathleen and I have been given one hour to paint, and then we must begin our return hike in order to get back to the truck before dusk.
Every time Fred and I stopped to take photos or write notes on the way in we got left behind and had to halloo for direction. I had lightened my painting kit by removing the largest tubes of oil paints, but my pack, with water and camera, journal, plastic sheeting in case of rain, first aid kit, etc. is still heavy enough. Someone else carried my painting umbrella. My legs felt like rubber and my feet like lead, and both Fred and myself are reminded that we haven't hiked through terrain like this since we were on the west coast in 1989.
I was so surprised to see crisp green oval leaves with slightly ruffled edges near the ground that looked like the Salal on the west coast - and Fred says that it is the same Salal that chokes the west coast forest everywhere the deer can't get at it! Another "wet coast" friend is the Pulmonaria lichen, ruffling occasional tree trunks, dimpled and scalloped in high gothic detail. We tasted Creeping Snowberry's tiny white fruits - like sweet wintergreen with a hint of lemon. All along I marveled at the navigational skill of our guides, who are familiar with these woods, and know where to find the trail when we're not on it. Martin kept leaving us to take cores of trees that Don has previously marked.
I feel completely disoriented when I can't see anyone to follow, and this sense of disorientation also plagues me as I struggle to paint the waterfall. Only near the end of our allotted hour do I begin to recognize the rocks I am painting in relation to the ones I have already painted.
Now today, after six hours of work in reference to my photo, I have finished the painting I began at the falls, and would very much like to return, to just sit and enjoy the beauty of the rocks and rushing water, and perhaps to bathe my face in the pool at the bottom.