I misplaced my daughter and my wife in differing ways. We are in Oregon visiting our daughter Rachel prior to our vacation along the coast. Rachel has a dog, Waffle, who loves the outdoors. Thus, a hike was in order. There is a nice one at Sliver Falls State Park that is 8.7 miles, low elevation, and has 10 waterfalls. This is a perfect for Waffle, perfect for Rachel and perfect for us photographers.

The four of us set out early to beat the crowds. Rachel and Waffle decided to start at the South Waterfall, we at the North Waterfall, just a 2.5-mile hike away. “We’ll meet you there,” Rachel said. Little did I know how difficult this would be. After driving to the North parking lot, Kathryn and I were in our element, two waterfalls (upper and lower) and an unlimited supply of large, moss-covered trees. With cameras in hand, we worked our way to the upper falls. I’m not sure how much time passed but it seemed like Rachel and Waffle should have been here by now. We kept exploring and shooting away. More time passed and still no Rachel. Did she get lost? Not likely. Did she get hurt? Worry started to settle in. A flash of brilliance hit me – I’ll text or call her! But there was no cell signal.

Everything was green. [Photo by Kathryn]

Upper North Falls. The water was flowing very fast, thus I needed only 1/3 second exposure for the water to convey motion.

We made our way back to the car. Once it was in sight, Kathryn decided to photograph the lower falls while I waited for Rachel. We would swap lookout duties when Kathryn returned. I positioned myself at the cross-section of the loop trail and the trail back to the car.  That way I could simultaneously see the car and monitor the trail. When the pressure is on, I just get smarter and smarter.  More time passed and my legs were getting tired. I lost Rachel and now, where the heck was Kathryn? She should have been back by now.  Could she be lost too? Also, not likely as she is a human GPS. Perhaps she slipped on the wet pathway and is injured?  My mind began mulling over all the possibilities. I decided I must act. Should I walk the trail to the south falls in search of Rachel or the trail to lower north falls in search of Kathryn? Either decision could leave be in the doghouse with Waffle.

While I was pondering my fate, a group of eight lovely ladies approached. At least now I have something to do while I determine my fate. They approached, chatting away, when all at once they stopped. “Are you dad” the leader asked? My mind raced through all the possible responses. How do I answer this question? If I were 30 years younger, I would have the stamina, but now, not so much. “Yes” came out of my mouth, not knowing why she was asking.  “Your daughter couldn’t hike this trail because dogs are not allowed. She is hiking the longer one and will meet you by the car.” “Great, what a relief. Now do you know where my wife is?” They all laughed, either with me or at me, and headed down the trail.

I waited a few more minutes for Kathryn. She didn’t show. Now I was getting more concerned. The ground is quite slick – she must have slipped and hurt herself.  I didn’t want to leave my lookout while still on the lookout for Rachel. As I hesitated, two women approached. That makes 10 women! Where were they when I was younger? “Are you Jeff,” the older one asked? Does everyone on the trail know me? They went on to tell me that Kathryn had asked them to let me know that she was engrossed in her photography and would be along “soon”.

Lower North Falls

With everyone safe, I left a note on the car for Rachel to meet us at the lower falls. I headed there and soon met up with Kathryn where again, we got lost in photography. After quite a while, there was still no Rachel. This story seems to be neverending, so I’ll end it now. We returned to the car, finding Rachel and Waffle exhausted from their ordeal. “Should we drive to the South Falls?” Rachel gave me the “eye”. We headed home knowing we will have to return in the future – sans Rachel and Waffle.