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By Jonathan London

It was the middle of July when we drove way up into the mountains and backpacked up creek.
The banks were lined with poison oak, so we waded through the cold water –hip deep for my parents, chest deep for us – our backpacks balanced on our heads.
We set up camp on a sandy flat beside a pool in a ring of boulders.  What a swimming bole! My brother and I swam, diving and tumbling in the diamond-clear water.
We hiked farther upstream, against little rapids, picking our way among slippery boulders. Suddenly we heard a roaring sound, and as we came around a bend, we saw what was causing it.
A huge waterfall!   It raised high above us, higher than the tallest pines.  Only a few wet ferns clung to the steep rock slope.   A rainbow glowed in the roaring mist.   “Wow!  I said.  “Let’s climb it”  “No way,” said Dad. “End of the road.” 
We turned back, and that night we had a cookout, and watched the sparks climb to the stars.  I couldn’t stop thinking about the waterfall --- and how much I’d like to climb it.
Later, snuggled in my bag, I heard a growl and a rustle in the bush ...  then finally fell asleep, a little scared.
In the morning we found tracks.  “A mountain lion,” said Dad.  “It must have come down for water.”
It made my heart feel big and wild, like when I saw the waterfall.  “Let’s go climb the falls!” I said.
“It can’t be done,” said Dad, “but let’s go anyhow!”
The sun was hot as a bonfire.  We cut leaves of Indian rhubarb as wide as elephant’s ears, and tied them on our heads with vine to keep us cool.  Then we waded against the little rapids deep into the canyon.
I was the first one to the waterfall.  “Let’s go up,” I said.
My brother grinned.  “If you go, I will,” he said.
I scouted a way, alongside the falls, and then we climbed like mountain goats.  Mom hollered,
“Be careful!” as if we wouldn’t, and we inched our way up and up --- The tips of our toes gripping thin ledges, our fingers finding cracks.  Sometimes rocks pulled out, but we clung like glue.  We had to.  The
Waterfall roared by our ears into a great rumbling, boiling cauldron far below.  “I’m scared,” said my brother. I said, “Just don’t look down.”
Near the top, a scrawny river willow poked out of the rock.  It was just the grip we needed to pull ourselves up...  up... and over the edge.
When we stood at the top, we slapped five and shouted down, ‘HEY MOM, DAD!  IT’S LIKE A WHOLE
OTHER WORLD UP HERE!  COME ON UP!  YOU CAN DO IT!”   And I did a little dance.
Mom looked at Dad, Dad looked at Mon.  Then Mon started climbing, and Dad followed ---- I couldn’t believe my eyes!
I lay on my belly and shouted directions.  “No, not that ledge ----- try the one up to your right!”  I never
Felt more anxious ----- seeing my parents clinging to that sheer rock ----- or more proud, either.
Then I heard a shout and my heart jumped into my mouth.  But it was a shout of triumph!  My folks pulled themselves up, up, and over the top.
“We did it!”  Mom beamed, breathing hard.  “You did it!”  I echoed.  “Dad, I thought you said it couldn’t b e done!”
“It can’t,” he said, grinning like a grizzly bear.
Then all together, we continued upstream.  “Look!”  I shouted.  A big piece of driftwood was wedged between boulders.  “It looks just like a dancer!”  It was river-smooth, polished by water.  It looked like a boy whirling around in joy.
“Can we take it home?”  I asked.  “As a kind of souvenir?”
“If you can carry it,” said Dad, “you can keep it.”  It was about the hardest thing I ever did, but I lugged that heavy driftwood back out . . .
And now it stands in our yard.   Some people think it’s a sculpture.  We just call it “The Dancer.”
Whenever I look at it, it reminds me of the waterfall ---- and makes my heart feel big and wild.