After I arrived home again from Japan and before I left on my mission to Chile I was home for approximately one and a half months. During this interim Paul came to visit. We had told my mother that we were going up the Columbia River Gorge to go hiking. On our way we stopped at the Deseret Book Store and he bought me a CTR (Choose The Right) ring. We continued on up the gorge and I took him on my two favorite hikes.
The first hike was on the Washington side of the Columbia to “The Pool of the Winds.” It is not very far, but rather steep, with switchbacks galore as you climb up the side of the mountain. It was July and very hot; greenery and wild flowers peppered the hillside. I wiped the perspiration from my forehead with my arm and continued the ascent up the hill side. The stream came into view and I broke into a grin.
“We’re almost there! Just way until you see this, it is amazing!”
We walked along the stream now, our ascent coming to a gradual end and we saw the water tumbling over the lower water falls and rocks, bouncing and jostling this way and that. He stopped to admire the view and I urged him on knowing the best was still to come. We reached the platform and Paul gasped in amazement. The falling water had chiseled, through time, a vertical tunnel through the hard rock. The falling water formed a pool before the water ran out over the lower falls. We leaned over the railing to peek into the rock alcove and see the pool. We were greeted with a gust of wind whipping around created by the force of the falling water and a blast of mist exploding into our faces.
As the water fell it created a whirlpool and a cyclone of wind beating against the rock walls of the niche. As the mist flew out of the recess the sun caught it, bringing a glittering rainbow into full view as the spray danced merrily through the air. The refreshment from the hot July heat was delightful and my spirit soared with the wind as inexplicable joy filled my core.
The first time Paul ever told me he loved me was on that hike.
After we returned from the Pool of the Winds we crossed the Columbia to the Oregon side and after viewing Multnomah and other magnificent falls began our hike into the Oneonta Gorge. There is a beautiful water fall at the back of the gorge, accessible only by hiking through the stream, perfect on a hot summer day. We plunged into the narrow rock canyon following the stream chiseled between the rock cliffs. The cavern walls appeared to be glowing as the sun lit up the moss and lichen. We skirted boulders and climbed over trees as we waded through the chasm. Trees towered overhead at the top of the sheer rock walls. We waded up to our waists in water at some points shivering with delight as the cool water sucked the breath right out of us. Slowly the canyon widened into a bowl shape with a pool at the end. The water plummeted off the precipice cascading the seventy five feet to earth in sheets. Mist flew around us as we perched on a rock and enjoyed the view and warmed in the sun before our watery trek back to the car.
We arrived home in time for dinner with my parents and sister’s family visiting from Utah. As we ate my mom leaned close and asked, “did you have a nice time?”
“Oh, Mom, it was wonderful! We went looking for rings!” Now, I had my date to leave on my mission looming ahead less than a month away. My mom’s face exploded into sheer glee and enthusiasm and the crumbled as she thought, “oh no, what about the mission?”
I plunged on ahead forcing my laughter down inside of me. “Would you like to see it?”
Mom nodded eagerly, I suppose she figured we would work out the mission thing somehow. I put my left hand down on the table and she looked at me quizzically as there was no ring on the finger. Then I plopped my right hand down on top of my left, my shiny new CTR ring glinting in the light. Mirth ripped out of me bursting forth to freedom from its dark cell as understanding dawned on my mother’s face.
“You brat!” she said lovingly, shaking her head at our joke.