High Rocks in winter

heart graffiti at High Rocks, Clackamas River

I was almost to Safeway on a Sunday a few weeks ago when, after all these months of living in Gladstone, I finally noticed a paved trail forking off the sidewalk towards the river beside an office building, which then led me down into the northeast section of the notorious summer swimming hole on the Clackamas River called High Rocks. The path ended at a small parking lot with a his-and-hers restroom and signs saying parking was for emergency vehicles only—because paramedics and EMT lifeguards need close access to the rocky bank in summer to dive for bodies.

blue graffiti & warning sign, Clackamas River

This being winter and with no one else around, except some guy who slunk off as I arrived, I jumped from rock to rock, headed for the river, snapping photos, hearing invisible frogs.

Clackamas River footbridge

Clackamas River High Rocks with rusty metal link

Strange that this close to a cluster of chain stores and beside a freeway (the 205) one can feel so removed from the city. The tensions between the cold rushing water and the smooth rocks at a spot where, before the lifeguard program began, nearly every summer someone died, the then-bare trees juxtaposed with colorful, bright graffiti, the waning sun as it dropped ever closer to dusk all reflect my mood of late. Tense. Restless. Turbulent. On the edge of change.

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