It’s loud here, but beautiful. A new realm. A large school of some kind of minnow curiously swims right up to my mask and camera, which makes getting a good shot difficult, but makes the swim really enjoyable. The topography of this large pool grades from fine sand on the shallow downstream edge to a deeper pocket with exposed bedrock where the water continues to wear it away. A large pile of leaves accumulates on the right, under a canopy of overhanging rhododendron. A rhododendron branch swirls in the current, and I have to work to keep from being pulled upstream into the waterfall.
The stream funnels through a bedrock trough and dumps about 15 feet into this pool where a cascade of bubbles almost reach to the bottom 4 feet below. The large school actively feeds unconcerned that I am there. A large stoneroller grazes on the bedrock shelf at the back of the plunge pool and darts behind the curtain of bubbles for protection. I pick my head from the stream and a whole new view of the river is revealed. I am almost directly under the small falls, and what appeared to be a modest sized falls now seems enormous. It is so quiet above in the forest, but when I put my face back under, the river is filled with the crash of the waterfall, like an unexpected constant rumble of a train. That is the case most times I snorkel: the view below if often something unexpected, but there is also a reassuring permanence to our rivers and streams. Water flows downhill. Life goes on. And Snorkeling often becomes a celebration of that life and the opportunity to experience it.