Sunday, January 9, 2011

Columbia Gorge Ice

Frozen waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, what photographer can resist that? I surely couldn’t. My oldest daughter had a doctor’s appointment earlier this week, so that afternoon was a perfect opportunity to take the drive out the old highway and capture a few images. 

Problem was, apparently things weren't quite as frozen as they once were. The East Wind (also known as the Chinook Wind), which blows through the Gorge and creates a very chilly wind tunnel this time of year, had abated. So Mother Nature’s ice sculptures were now starting to melt again and become cascades of water. Which my oldest daughter and I found out the hard way, literally.
While completely engrossed in one particular ice formation near Oneonta Gorge, I heard the rumbling that one can only take as a rock slide. Only this time, it was a shower of softball size chunks of ice and jagged icicles. As I turned to run for cover, one large piece hit my camera lens glass straight on, my hand, and my ankle. By some miracle, my lens was encrusted with ice, but not even a scratch. I have no clue how it survived unscathed, but being grateful is an understatement.
My daughter, on the other hand, didn’t fare as well. Ice hit her square on the top of the head. Tears were streaming down her face. “Mommy, my head hurts.” At this point I launched into full panic mode. I was convinced that the blood was going to start streaming down her face at any second, and I was going to have to race to the nearest ER. 

Again, another stroke of luck. No gaping wound, just a small little bump. I grabbed a chunk of ice from the ground, one of the very pieces that had just assaulted us, and wrapped it in her scarf, and put it on her head to keep the swelling down. I told my daughter that was probably the piece that hit her in the head, and now it was going to make her feel better. At that point we both laughed pretty hard at the irony of that, and she forgot that her head was throbbing, almost as quickly as it fell from the cliff and on her head. We both realized how lucky we were that neither of us had a concussion, broken bone, or some other serious injury.
The moral of the story: When nature gives you a head wound, make an ice pack.

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