The vague path we took now behind us was a steep and slippery mossy embankment, the path we were to follow entered a wall of trees with a steep, narrow path that quickly veered off to the left and escaped our sight. We couldn't see more than a couple meters in front due to this fact. One in our party was overtaken by heat stroke and dehydration, and the other couldn't grapple with the fact that our path looked no different than a sheer drop with not much to hang onto if things went sideways. The decision was made I would make my way down to scout the area and collect water since we were bone dry, and it was an hour and a half hike back in the blistering sun. 

My friends stayed behind, and we all assumed I would be back shortly. I managed to cling to tree roots as I lowered myself down the dirt path, then descended loose shale rock that made me slide with each step as if I were skating. I continued to yell back, Can you still hear me? but every few feet the response Yes! grew quieter until radio silence. The forest leveled out after 30 minutes, and I finally made it to the creek to collect as much water as I could. It was dark and cool all around me as the midday sun couldn't get through the seemingly unlimited layers of trees. I could hear the rhythm of a waterfall aheadit was Mossy Grotto." I still couldn't see it, but I knew it was only a short distance away. It had been one of the main objects of my photographic desire since I started planning this trip months ago, and I wouldn't get a chance to see it, nor photograph it. I had to get back as my friends hadn't heard my voice for nearly an hour by this time, and I was certain of their panic.

Going back a few years, I couldn't imagine how the future me would love hiking, but now that has all changed, and I owe it all to photography. There are few things now I can think of that would stop me getting to a photogenic area, and Oregon rewards the effort. I hear it calling me back with every image I see of Oregon and the famous Mossy Grotto, as it only rekindles a deep love affair for such a special place. As hard as hiking to Mossy Grotto that day was, and despite never getting to see or capture it, it remains one of our favorite stories to tell. Photographing these areas might be a dream, but the byproduct is creating adventures you will never forget, and the stories that will live on.

Bryce Mironuck