The Forgotten Bridge

A view of the bridge over Sol Duc Falls

It rained the entire way on the short hike down to Sol Duc Falls, not surprising since I deliberately planned this trip around rainy weather. I was looking forward to seeing the falls, having visited them a few times before, but my heart sank on the approach.

The bridge. I always forget about the bridge.

I love the bridge itself, sturdy and wooden and water-soaked like the enveloping forest. The problem is the deep and narrow chasm that lies below as I’m rather scared of heights. Add the deafening roar of the falls and it overwhelms my senses. I screwed up my courage and walked across without looking down and started taking pictures of the falls from the other side, a little out of sorts and finding it hard to concentrate.

A large family was there already (or arrived shortly thereafter, the visit is a bit of a blur in my memory). You can see a few of them on the bridge at the top of the picture, unwitting models that provide a sense of scale. They were lovely folks and helped me relax a little bit. When I decided to head back to the car, I gathered my courage once more and made a beeline across the bridge. The family had all gathered on the bridge for a picture and as I passed asked if I’d mind taking a picture of their group. I froze in place and couldn’t say anything. I think they thought they might have offended me with their innocuous request so I quickly stammered that I’d be happy to take their picture but I had to get off the bridge.

Once on the other side they handed me their camera, a Nikon unfortunately as I shoot Canon and the controls are similar yet different and I had been struggling to shoot even with a camera familiar to me. Hopefully the picture came out well enough, looking at the result on the camera at least you could tell they were having a good time. I hope they were happy with it because they made my visit more enjoyable and now I can smile when I look at this picture and think about the bridge, at least until the next time I have to cross it.

4 thoughts on “The Forgotten Bridge

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets unnerved. I used to be only bothered slightly, not enough to cause any problems. Then it was a long time since I was on any such bridges. So about a year ago when I went out on a footbridge over train tracks to take some photos I was surprised to discover that I was completely freaked out. I had to cling to the railing and slowly shuffle along like an arthritic old lady, trying to keep my breathing under control and not attract attention. After that I balked like a horse at a jump at a different crossing and didn’t go at all. Sheesh.

    You got a beautiful picture though!

    • I know the slow shuffle well, and sometimes get down and crawl at narrow spots. I have a good sense of balance but when the vertigo kicks in I get dizzy and my muscles tense up. In college I was laying down atop a rock outcrop, looking down into the valley below, and was so nervous I didn’t notice one foot was completely submerged in a puddle. I’ve turned around in the Tetons when an exposed trail got too narrow, and once in the Columbia River Gorge although on a later attempt I made it past. When my wife and I visited New Mexico we had to climb these wooden ladders to visit one of the kivas and my wife could barely watch me as I struggled up and down. 8 year olds and 80 year olds were going up and down with no problem, but it is what it is.

      Before heading back to the car I considered trying some photography from the bridge this time, I try exposure like that when I’m feeling up to it, but as I approached I knew this wasn’t going to be one of those times.

  2. Is that the bridge that we saw and crossed when we were there? I had no idea that you were so uncomfortable. You must have inherited that fear from Grandpa Etter. I remember that he was very uncomfortable when we visited Niagara Falls. It is a beautiful picture and I’m sure the family was very pleased with the picture you took. Not everyone is such a perfectionist with their pictures and as long as you could see everyone’s (or most everyone’s) face, I’m sure they were delighted! Love you, Mom

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