Patterns In The Falls
Northwest Territories, Canada
I was here in autumn, just before the ice. I had hiked down to a cliff that was above the river. I saw a tiny ledge right at the edge of the falls but no easy way to climb down. It was cloudy and chilly. Playing it safe, I set up my tripod on the cliff but continued to think about the perspective from the tiny ledge below. Then I noticed a spot where others had climbed down and there was a frayed rope. I got half way down the steep muddy incline and the rope came short - it did not extend far enough - I worried, one slip, and I would have slid into the falls. I decided to go for it; I slid the rest of the way down on my ass, tearing my pants and banging my backpack all the way. Thankfully I stopped sliding at the tiny ledge; I was dirty, sweating, shaking and freezing. I looked up and I was seriously concerned about how I'd get back up. The ledge was slippery, wet and the tripod kept sliding. Then, in a moment of clarity, I realized I was there to make a photograph; I reassured myself a future Derek would figure out how to climb back up later, he could worry. Then I noticed patterns and tiny jets shooting upwards in the mist from the roaring water right in front of me. I made my exposures on film with my Hasselblad. When I was done, I crawled on my hands, knees and stomach up the muddy incline to the rope and then pulled myself up.