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Passage Through Time, by Matt Tilghman
Passage Through Time
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Photograph of Oneonta Falls, in Oneonta Gorge, on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. This is the Lower Falls, which is located about a mile upstream from the where the creek meets the Columbia River.
Oneonta Falls
Shown here is Lower Oneonta Falls, an intimate waterfall at the end of Oneonta Gorge, on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. Oneonta Gorge seems like a landscape off another planet. It's a narrow gorge reminiscent of the slot canyons of the American Southwest, but in the middle of a lush temperate rain forest, with walls clad in moss and ferns, dripping with moisture. While hiking up the gorge, my mind was first struck by the similarity to a slot canyon, but then began to ponder the different ways they were created. The slot canyons of the Southwest form when rain water drains through existing sandstone channels, further carving them with every downpour. Oneonta Gorge, however, likely formed as the waterfalls (there are four) eroded their own precipice, marching backwards in time. As I considered this, the trek upstream began to feel like a march forward in time, mimicking the path of the waterfall but at a much faster pace. It's a truly remarkable piece of wilderness, and well worth the tricky trek over logjams and slippery boulders.
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