November 2018 | Tara Ulbrich
IT’S A SECRET chasm with falls that both plummet and step down vertical cliffs. Plant life reaches high and the creek bed is sliced by vertical trunks, uprooted and wedged by rock. A mantle of green spreads on seemingly every surface and overarching this spectacle are massive, curved rock ledges, reducing the scale of a walker’s presence to minuscule.
People speak about preserving isolation and locking away access to sensitive areas. I want to remind them that humanity is not a blight on nature. We belong to nature. We are part of the web. The sensitivity also belongs to us. My companions and I sit at the base of these falls, sipping a thermos of hot tea, taking photos, shifting between silent awe and sharing spotted details.
A luminescent purple fungus, a twisted tree fern curls around a cheese-wood trunk, birdsong calls to us from high above. We simultaneously experience a sense of humility and the importance of doing no harm. Our responsibility is to exchange the sensory pleasure of passing through this forest with the obligation to leave no trace. Stepping on the carpet fall of pepper scented sassafras I imagine the white flowers continuing to drop, covering our footprints.
Bastion Cascades is a comfortable four-hour return. Although mostly walking in rainforest across a southeast face, good shoes are required and be prepared for some scrambling up wet rock. The route is found on a barely marked sidetrack off of the Meander Falls Road. I am going to trust you to do your own research to find the track and trust you to respect the place while you’re there.
Photo | Jade Hallam