I am having the most lovely strenuous time scrambling over moss-covered boulders. A two-inch nut-brown frog hops across my path, as if we were on intersecting highways, and he was determined to go first. I watch him hop two feet at time, wondering where he is going in such an unnaturally straight line.
I certainly can't go in a straight line. Since I am unable to hop thirty times my height, I must climb up and around every boulder. I too have a goal in mind: a waterfall, glimpsed from the road, that the National Park Service hasn't made accessible by trail. It promises to be very large and twisting, and a confirmed waterfall hound like me just can't pass it up, despite the very steep descent from the road.
My first vantage point brings me to a view of the bottom section of falls. Very nice, but there are still trees in the way. I snap a few photos between the branches, but can't get any closer. There is a cliff below me and I have no rope.
Back up to the road... did I really climb down this far?... and down at another spot. This time, I find the creek, turquoise and tumbling. An amply rewarding view. I follow the creek downhill, lured by a patch of sunshine that might, just might be the top of the falls.
It is, and it is magnificent. Two channels of water slide and tumble over sculpted rock. I scramble down to vantage points near the top, and near the middle of the slide. After seeking out every accessible view, I return to the road, three hundred photos in my camera. I foresee many studio pieces from this lot.
An actual trail takes me with my paint kit to a lovely little falls and pool. Here I relax and paint for the afternoon.