Monday, May 22, 2017

Forbidden Catherine Creek Arch

Exploring the Pacific Northwest

There is a sign at the top of the hill:

Throughout time, remarkable geologic features such as mountains, rock formations and waterfalls have held special legendary, cultural or sacred meaning to people.

Catherine Creek Arch is one of those features.  Be respectful and remain outside of the fenced area.

Six years ago, this basalt arch was still accessible and hikers could walk across its span and down underneath its opening.  Now you can only glimpse it (just barely) from below.  It is completely fenced off.
I cannot find any information as to why it is so sacred to Native Americans, but I did find something from the Forest Service about the instability of the rock,  Looking up at the talus and scree, I don't doubt their concern.  This past week, those concerns hit home.  A massive landslide of rocks came tumbling down a hillside on my beloved Historic Highway 30 just east of Mosier, Oregon, where I live.  It was on the Rowena Crest Loop, one of the most beautiful and interesting sections of this highway.  The slide completely covered the road with 500 cubic yards of rock.  One was eight feet wide!  Fortunately, no one was beneath it.


The geology of the Columbia River Gorge is what brings thousands upon thousands of tourists here from all over the world.  I get out and hike among these basalt cliffs on a daily basis, and I confess there are times when I look up at the towering pillars and a wave of anxiety hits.  I'm always able to shake it off and trudge forward.

Nature is beautiful, but nature can turn on you.  Often without warning.  You just hope and pray you are not in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I'm in a pensive mood this morning.  My travel buddy is planning a summit of one of the Cascade Mountains this summer ( and that scares me).  We are also going to Olympic National Park for a week of exploration.  Now that he is retired, our agenda is filling with more and more adventure.  I can't let fear paralyze me from living the kind of life I want to live.

He wanted to go see the Rowena rockslide this week.  I refused.

Fear isn't necessarily a bad thing.  It makes you cautious.

But facing it head on?  No thanks.  Not if I'm going to keep on truckin'.


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