Deception Falls is the second waterfall I ever saw in Washington. This was a few years before I moved up here and I was still shooting with film. These were the days where I knew the basics of SLR photography, but worked mostly on trial and error. I knew slowing the shutter speed would give me the silky smooth water I wanted. So I'd blow through a 36 roll of film on a single waterfall, changing the speed with each one. I had a tiny understanding on how shutter speed was inversely related to the f-stop, but didn't really get how the f-stop affected my shot. I just took one shot at a time, adjusting things as I needed until I was out of film. After getting the film developed I'd throw out all but one or two that came out how I wanted. My first shots of Deception Falls didn't come out great.
I've tried 3 times to get back to Deception Falls and re-take that photograph with all the knowledge I have now. All three times it was closed due to snow. Friday, I decided to try again. The weather was overcast and rainy, perfect for photographing a waterfall. The drive on Highway 2 was beautiful as always. Storm clouds thundered above and rain poured down around me. I grabbed a quick bite and by the time I got to the falls, the rain had stopped. I grabbed my gear and took off on the loop.
Not too far into the hike a find a perfect starting spot. I set up my tripod, being very proud I brought it, carried it on the hike, and actually took the time to set it up. I get ready to slap my camera on the top and realize no quick release plate screwed into the bottom. Racking my brain, I'm trying to remember why I ever took it off in the first place. Out of some sort of crazy luck (or maybe I was actually thinking when I took it off), I found it in the smallest pocket in my backpack. Not having that little guy would have set my progress back on actually utilizing the tripod. I relaxed, took my time and got some great shots.
I continue on through the hike, stopping here and and there for those mossy water pictures I love so much. I can hear the rushing of the falls as I near. The first platform is a bit disappointing. Closed to public, obviously due to damage.
I walk a bit more and find myself in a bit of a predicament. The hiking trail goes right through a small stream. I'm really close to the main attraction now and just on the other side of the stream is a bridge going over more water that looks like it would be a great shot. I'm staring at this stream, weighing my options. I'm alone, always the first thing I consider when shooting. If I tried to cross and I fell, what would be the worst that would happen? Obviously I could crack my skull open and that would be the worst, but I am a very accomplished faller. I once fell down about 6 concrete steps in college and landed on my butt. The only scratch I got was on the top of my ankle. Not a single bruise or scratch otherwise, so I'm pretty confident in my falling abilities. I decide the worst that would happen to me is I'd get a little wet and cold since the water is only a few inches deep and not flowing too fast. Absolutely acceptable. The next thing to consider is what could happen to my camera and other gear that is loaded in my backpack. There is a chance that if I fell, my camera or some sort of equipment could get a little wet. Absolutely not acceptable. I've got too much money invested in it, not to mention my camera is my baby.
So I backtrack all the way around the loop and continue to that troublesome creek. I grab my iPhone and take a quick snapshot of the water obstacle, knowing its going to be a fun story to share. Now that I'm where I should be, I focus on that great shot of the bridge. Once again, I take my time to set up my shot and take my time shooting to get the picture just as I want it. I move half way over the bridge and find another cool location to shoot. Just at the end I decided to pull out my phone again to get a quick capture of the scene. No iPhone. I frantically check all my pockets on my jacket, sweatshirt, and jeans. Nothing. I look down at the rushing water below me and think, shit. I'm in panic mode. Not so much worried about losing my phone or pictures, but I had told a friend where I was going and that I'd text when I got back from the mountains and found service. For all you who know me, I absolutely hate for people to worry about me. I knew if he didn't hear from me in a few hours he'd worry. I, of course, rely on my phone too heavily and don't have a single phone number memorized so I couldn't even call from a pay phone if I wanted. I had to find that phone! Heart pounding, I search every inch of the bridge, then down by that tricksy stream. Still nothing. I start near the water, under the bridge. There, under the stairs and inches from the rushing water is my phone, sunk in some mud! I wipe it off all over my jeans. Perfectly fine. I must have had it sticking out of my jeans pocket and when I walked up the steps, out it came. Kicking myself, I zip it up in the pocket of my jacket and move on to the falls.
The rushing of the waterfall is really drawing me near it. I cross another bridge and up stone steps to the falls I've been waiting to see and photograph for so long. The water is so powerful and so close, mist is everywhere. I do my best to protect the camera as long as possible and wipe the lens quick before I shoot, knowing, I'm not going to get the awesome shot that I want. Some waterfalls refused to be captured properly. They are best seen and felt in person. I walked away getting nothing that I expected from the waterfall, but better pictures than I imagined from the hike.