The year that was 2009 was one of our most internationally active waterfalling ones to date. In a way, it was a year about coming full circle. After all, we got re-acquainted with the local waterfalls again, we returned to our roots in China, and we've ended our extended honeymoon returning to the country that started it - New Zealand.
It started off with Thailand and Cambodia where we were winding down this three-week trip by kicking off the New Year with the Thi Lo Su Waterfall as well as the Khlong Lan Waterfall. In between the logistics and waterfalls, we also visited some impressive temples, including the famous ones near Siem Reap Cambodia like Angkor Wat.
The next few months were spent waiting for the rain to arrive in Southern California, which wasn't until February. That was when we returned to doing some local waterfalls including those we had been to before like Sturtevant Falls, Monrovia Canyon Falls, La Jolla Canyon Falls, and Switzer Falls, as well as those we were seeing for the first time like Ortega Falls, Escondido Falls, Tangerine Falls, Nojoqui Falls, and Tenaja Falls.
In late March/early April, we went to Oregon where we spent a rain-drenched week waterfalling the Columbia River Gorge (seeing such falls like Multnomah Falls, Latourell Falls, and Triple Falls among others), Silver Falls State Park (seeing all 10 falls on the trail of 10 falls including South Falls), and some falls on the Oregon Coast like Silver Falls and Golden Falls. The weather finally let up on the very last day when we visited both the Chinese and Japanese Gardens in Portland as well as getting spectacular views of the volcanoes from Council Crest.
But the Oregon trip was merely a warm-up to the grand China and Japan trip that lasted from mid April to early June. In China, we got to see the country's most spectacular ones in Detian Waterfall, Huangguoshu Waterfall, and Hukou Waterfall. We also visited waterfalls in the Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve where the colorful lakes stole the show. Plus, we saw many of the country's highlights from pandas to Guilin's karst to the Great Wall to the Terracota Soldiers to Heaven Lake on Changbai Mountain.
We then continued on to Japan where we were completely on our own and struggled through the mostly non-English speaking country. Still, we got to see this country's best waterfalls like Kegon-no-taki, Nachi-no-taki, Ginga-no-taki, Shomyo-daki, and more! Plus, we got to see Japan's most wild area in Shiretoko National Park as well as numerous temples and castles. I still miss the Japanese food, which was both varied, fresh, and divine!
The hangover from the big trip didn't last long though as we were thrust right back into the rat race and once again longed for another getaway.
That came soon enough in late August when we took an extended weekend trip back to Oregon to conquer some demons that haunted us since Mother Nature had other plans for us back in April. This time, we not only got to see waterfalls like Proxy Falls, Salt Creek Falls, Lower Oneonta Falls, and Falls Creek Falls (in Washington), but we also got to see Crater Lake as well as the Windy Ridge section of Mt St Helens.
Shortly after this trip, I had organized a group hike consisting of co-workers (many of whom haven't tried the nature thing yet) to Eaton Canyon Falls. I had never been to a local waterfall this late in the year so I really looked forward to it. But then the wildfires started a couple days before the hike and we had to call it off. Better luck next time, I suppose.
That makeup came soon enough a little over a month later in October when we made another try at Eaton Canyon Falls. This time it was successful, but only 3 people from the original group of some 12 or so (not including Julie and I) made it. Still, the folks that did make it had a great time, and we hope to continue these outings so more city slickers can give Nature a chance and get hooked.
In November, we visited India. There, we got to see the famous Jog Falls as well as other lesser-known-but-no-less-spectacular falls in Nohkalikai Falls, Dudhsaghar Falls, and Athirappilly Falls among others. However, this was also the first time our waterfalling plans were signficantly altered by political instability so we didn't get a chance to see Barehipani & Joranda Falls, Chitrakote Falls, and Hundru Falls (all of which are located in Maoist and Naxalite areas). Of course we had to see the Taj Mahal as well as other Indian attractions (such as the elusive wild royal bengal tiger in Ranthambore National Park), but we ended off this adventure with a much-needed half-week stay in the Maldives.
Finally, we ended off the year in the country that essentially started the five-year honeymoon - New Zealand! There were lots of regions and attractions of the country we missed the first time around, so we went for them on this go-around. At least now, we didn't have to worry about wedding logistics nor the Milford Track logistics. It was pretty much back to the classic self-driving itinerary visiting such falls as Omaru Falls, Ohura Falls, Wainui Falls, Owharoa Falls, Waiau Falls, and more! We also got to see Abel Tasman National Park, Fox Glacier, and spent more time on Mt Egmont while spending more time seeing the cities of Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown, Wellington, and even Auckland!
We're still in New Zealand at the moment, and we're looking forward to going to the Cook Islands (hopefully seeing Wigmore's Waterfall) to end off this trip. But from that point forward, life will change and we'll have to settle down from our intense world waterfalling.
Sure it'll be bittersweet, but we're looking forward to a different life yet striving to be able to look back without regrets...