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Nowadays, most of the best cool spots are overrun with people wanting to see such locations firsthand.  With the prevalence of the internet, once secret or obscure places can be broadcast to millions of people within an instant – complete with GPS coordinates.

I do whatever I can to avoid crowds, and it’s sad to see some of my favorite spots reduced to a mere tourist attraction.  Therefore, I have decided to make an effort to not disclose the precise location of all of my photos anymore, instead sharing only the beauty therein.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Besides, sometimes discovering a new place on your own, free from crowds, is a real treat.

We took a friend down to the Oregon coast recently, and amidst sightseeing and admiring lofty viewpoints, we stumbled upon a set of stairs.  Interestingly, it was our friend (and not me) who had his curiosity piqued, giving into the desire to know what lay at the bottom.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Sensing adventure, I was quick to follow.

We pushed through some tall grass and descended the steep hill.  Before long, we bumped into a couple on their way up, to whom we asked, “Is it worth it?”

“Oh, absolutely!  But keep going.  Even when you think it’s not worth it anymore to go farther, keep going!”

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

We broke through the overgrown grass into a small clearing at the edge of a cliff lined with wildflowers.  Aaron popped out from behind us; I suppose he’s learned to follow me if he doesn’t want to lose track of me!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

This spot afforded us a spectacular view of the distant shore far below, and I made Aaron nervous when I came even remotely near it.

Yeah, this was worth it.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

But there was still a hint of path at the other side of the clearing.  Even when you think it’s not worth it anymore to go farther, keep going!

I powered forward.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

The brush was thicker here, and soon, it even tangled above our heads.  We ducked low to push through the narrow tunnel, zigzagging haphazardly (and mostly blindly) to who knew where.  I only hoped this secret passageway didn’t dump us off a sea cliff.

Well… it almost did.

It let out at the edge of a rock lined with trees.  Now, we could see both north and south, up and down the coast on either side.  This was even better!  What a cool spot!

But there was more.  Keep going!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Ahead, we could see the trail continued steeply down a narrow ridge and onto a rocky finger jutting out into the ocean.  There were no more trees out there – just large boulders laid bare by the wind.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I clambered my way down the spine, using roots to secure my footing and young trunks for balance.  We finally made it out to the point, and this was the pinnacle.  270-degree views, with nothing but vast, wild ocean below.  I felt like I was on the edge of the world.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Such a beautiful summer day, the sky was a velvet blue and the ocean a rich cyan.  It was a spontaneous surprise of nature’s grandeur, a hint of the euphoria I felt on our adventure behind Landscape Arch.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

It was understandably windy, free from the shelter of trees, but the air was refreshing in the warm sun.  We were also able to see an adjacent finger from our vantage, but this was wide with a well-worn trail, speckled with hikers.  I was glad we had found the less-traveled (and higher) lookout.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I had lots of fun playing with my long lens; we had a great view of a nearby arch in the rocks.  Aaron was also amazed I could – rather effectively – zoom in on the people perched upon the other outcropping.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

When we were finished reveling in the high that only the freedom of such a discovery can grant, we reluctantly turned back.  As we made our way back through the tall grass, we came across a few fellow explorers.

“Is it worth it?”

“Oh, absolutely!  But be sure you keep going!”

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

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