Thursday, June 15, 2006

Waterfall trip

This is a bad picture of us but a pretty good shot of the falls. If you look just to the right of the falls there is a little cave like opening that people kept hiking up to to sit in a watch the water and the people below.

On June 5th, we head out at about 7 a.m. for a trip to a waterfall about 2 hours from us. Mohsen's mom, two of his sisters, a brother-in-law and two year old niece came along too. Because there's not always a lot on the road between one town and the next, people often go on trips with two cars just in case. Although, from what I've seen on our trips, there are plenty of other cars on the road with usually very helpful and handy occupants. We left early since 1) it was a holiday and we expected it to be crowded and 2) SIL said her car doesn't have ac so they didn't want to travel in the heat of the day.

The drive up was very pretty and cool since we traveled through the mountains. When we got close to the waterfall we had to go up a side street which cut through an older, poorer part of the nearby town to get there. Here, a lot of the houses were make-do affairs made with field stones and stripped limbs. It really makes you appreciate what you have. This road, like many side streets was narrow with barely enough room for two cars to pass. As we got closer to the waterfall, there were places where the road seemed even more narrow with a rock retaining wall on one side and the mountain's valley falling away to the other side and no guard rails.

We got to a point where it was clear that we couldn't drive any further since cars were parked on one side of the road and people leaving the falls were taking up the rest of the road so we pulled close to the valley edge of the road and got ready to walk the rest of the way. This was about 9:30ish. Mohsen's family hadn't eatten breakfast yet so that had an impromptu breakfast of cucumber and cheese sandwiches with tea next to the car. The kids and I ate before we left but lately they seem to have turned into hobbits and wanted "Second breakfast". We had brought food for a picnic lunch but decided it wouldn't be worth it to haul it up with us since we didn't know exactly how far we had to walk.

We wove our way through on-coming (though slow-moving) traffic, parked cars and other pedestrians, many of whom were loaded down with baskets and bags for their own picnics. It took us about 15 minutes to get from our car to the official parking lot for the waterfall. From the parking lot, you can see the top of the waterfall off in the distance over the tree tops but it is impossible to judge the distance. The path leading up to the waterfall was much like the road, narrow without guardrails despite a few precarious spots where someone could easy go over the edge and have a nasty fall. This fact didn't seem to bother anyone else though and certainly didn't bother the many people who had set up picnic sites off the trail close to the river complete with tents and even bedding in many places. At one point, the trail leads to steps carved out of the rock which were a bit steep. My MIL had bad knees so she opted to sit off to the side in the shade and wait for us to return. It's a good thing she did because the steps would have been quite difficult for her but the kids loved it. I think it lent the journey an added sense of adventure. On the way up stairs, one man was coming down carrying a complete Iranian twin size bed roll with blanket and pillow on his shoulders. (The mattresses are like tri-folded futon mattresses and pretty heavy.) We also passed other camp sites close to the river/mountain stream. The trail leads you right into the base of the waterfall where you have to pick your way across the rocks unless you want to get your feet wet. My kids were in heaven. If she thought she could get away with it, I'm sure Zahra would have tried to go for a swim in the icy water or at least splashed and jumped around enough until she was soaked from head to foot. She is most definitely a little waterbaby. :) I tried to stay relatively dry at first but gave up when Mohsen wanted to get a picture of us and I ended up standing right in the stream. This, of course, made it ok for everyone else to at least get their feet soaked by standing in the ankle deep water. It was very cool and refreshing with the canopy of trees shading us from the sun quite nicely. It was quite crowded with people climbing just about everywhere, enjoying themselves thoroughly. It reminded me of one trip we made to a waterfall in MD years before where a bunch of kids had made their way to the top of the falls, although this waterfall was much taller.

After about 15 or 20 minutes, we decided it was time to head back down. The trip down the stairs made me appreciate just how steep they were in some spots. A mountain goat probably would have felt quite at home there if not for so many visitors. After a potty and juice break, we started back to the cars. We didn't go very far before DH and BIL decided it would be better to go get the cars and have us wait with the kids where we were. DH had carried Reza most of the time and I think his shoulders were getting tired. We stayed in the shade while the kids entertained themselves by throwing rocks in a little stream just off the road.

Once DH and BIL returned with the cars, the real adventure began. Getting down from the waterfall was a major test of patience and logistics. Remember this is a narrow road with more people coming every minute. It turns out that at one point, not far from where we had parked, people had taken it into their heads to park on BOTH sides of the road! In a way, I can't blame them since their other options would be trying to get by the cars coming down or directing everyone behind them to go in reverse down the road until they could find a spot. At one point we seemed absolutely stuck with cars on each side of the road and a few more trying to come up. There was one spot where no one had parked so we were eyeing that until a carload of guys swooped in to park there. Then two of them hop out and start directing us to just come on through. The space here was so narrow that I could (and did) touch the car parked next to me with my forearm resting on my car door and I'm sure dh could do the same! I'm still not sure how we made it but I praised dh profusely for his excellent driving skills. I probably would have just parked myself right there in the middle of the road and refused to move until the other cars did. This was probably around 11:30-12. We thought it was crowded when we got there but by the time we left people were parked all the way down the road, probably a mile or more away from the falls with plenty of others trying to make their way up the road. Now, before you go getting the wrong idea, I've heard that places like the Grand Canyon are like this too during the summer months. Bumper to bumper and going no where fast.

We thought we'd try and find a place to have our picnic lunch somewhere on the way back but as I've said before, Iranians love to picnic and anywhere there was even a remotely suitable spot was already occupied. So, after trying several different spots we decided just to head back home. We ended up not getting home until just before 3:30. We had eaten some snacks in the car but it was a good thing we had the picnic food ready to go because everyone was hungry. I just had to pull it all out and set it up inside.

It was a nice day but I'm not sure we'll be making that trip again. The road up the falls was just too crazy for my taste and stressful for dh too. I think we'll leave it to the more adventurous souls. Posted by Picasa


Patty said...

what an adventure. The scenery reminds me of the mountains around southern california.
The traffic looks a bit different though. I think your mountain traffic looks far more enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

Shellie. ..To say I am proud would be a tremendous understatement... you have grown into the most incredible woman ... a mother ... a wife... and a precious being. I am sitting here reading your blogs and following your life with your children and I thank God for you . I respect you and love you. Aunt Barbara