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Hiking Oneonta Falls: And The Business Lesson It Taught Me

On Sunday, with my husband and my sister in tow, I ventured out to Oneonta Falls. If you're unfamiliar with Oneonta Falls (and the lower Oneonta Gorge), you can learn more about it here.

Oneonta Falls is one of the gems of Oregon. Just check out any list of 10 things you MUST do when you visit, and you will almost certainly be guided to the falls. Also, as it is part of the Columbia River Gorge, it's among the 7 Wonders of Oregon. (See 0:20-0:23 for Oneonta Gorge.)

We arrived in the heat of the day and made our way to the first (and biggest) obstacle of the hike. Oneonta Gorge starts and ends with scaling a massive log jam.

There is no correct way to get over this log jam. There is no path. At times you have to balance precariously while standing on a slippery log and crossing a 10 foot chasm. My first big challenge was walking straight ahead up the length of a log, then reaching up to hoist myself onto a standing vertical log. I had no footing. I had to push my left foot off a fully vertical wet rock. I then reached around the vertical log in front of and above me as my sister helped position my arms to essentially "catch" me when I jumped up. I landed. She asked me how I was doing. I said, "I'm terrified," and she said, "But you're fine." My immediate reaction was, "Just because I know I'm fine doesn't mean I can't be terrified."

I let that thought sink in for a while as I scurried and pressed on through the log jam. Each difficult section was one more piece behind me. I was one step closer to the treasure at the end of the hike. When I reached the other side of the log jam, my feet hit the cold water below. I felt invincible. I was past the hardest part.

I waded through the knee deep water, then the waist deep water, and finally I swam. I ascended onto the rocks at the end of the hike and arrived at our destination: Oneonta Falls. I immediately stripped off my tank and shorts (I was prepared with a bathing suit underneath) and jumped in. The water was icy. The mist of the waterfall hit my face and I felt my lungs fill up with the cold rush of air. There is nothing like swimming at the base of a waterfall to wake you up and remind you of the absolute majesty of life.

On the way back, everything was easier. I knew I could do it because I had already done it. I was less cautious and more confident. I realized that I could either worry about each step of the hike or I could release myself from the fear and accept that if I just take one step at a time, I will not only be just fine (as my sister said) but I will be basking in the inevitable treasures that lie beyond the obstacles.

And so it goes with my business. Entrepreneurship is a rocky journey filled with some serious highs and difficult lows. There are so many things I don't know that I don't know. There are so many log jams and challenging terrains ahead of me. But if I can have the courage to deal with each one as it comes, I will gain all the rewards from the journey. And everything will always be easier once I've done it once (or twice, as this was my second Oneonta hike).

Because at the end of the day, that waterfall is worth every scrape and bruise. It's worth the wet clothes, the water logged tennis shoes, the slivers, and the sometimes embarrassing poses I got myself into. It's worth the fear. It's worth it all.

And if the waterfall at the end of your entrepreneurial journey isn't worth all that, if it isn't worth all the late nights, missed dates with friends, meals eaten over a sink (if at all) and stressful, busy days, then maybe it's time to reevaluate the trail you have taken.

Cheers to the road less traveled!

And as always, cheers to the journey!


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