Welcome to winter in the northwest. As the rain descends out of the dark grey sky and the damp cold sinks into my bones. I find myself wanting to hibernate. Cuddle up in a warm blanket by the fire and binge on Netflix.
However, I know from braving the harsher elements, that there is another Green River Gorge waiting in the winter months. It is a time of wildness. A time of sinking grey skies separated by hours of darkness. The color of the river becomes a steel blue-green instead of the color of jade. The lazy lower water of summer months becomes a torrent of crashing waves, crowded currents, and an energy that is rarely seen in the summertime.
After the autumn leaves have fallen and all that is left is the giant cedars, western hemlock, Douglas Firs, and naked trunks of maples, birch, and wild cherry it is easier to see the landscape beneath. White, orange, and brown sandstone cliffs that were hidden during the summer reveal themselves to be the outer edge of a wider forested Gorge. In others they are front and center as the high water laps at the water carved walls. Giant boulders along the river’s edge poke through the bare branches of Red Twig Dogwood and Vine Maple.
In the winter of 2015 and 2016, my explorations revealed new things about the this wild corridor. These explorations were my reconnaissance for my 2016 summer hike of the entire Green River Gorge and a time when I could be less worried about getting the right shot and instead relax and rediscover the landscape.