Posted by: Dave Neads | April 11, 2013

Zen Walkway

The big spring flood of 2011 carried away the old cottonwood log that had served us for several years as a crossing over the Hotnarko. Linking Cottonwood meadow to Spruce and Waterfall meadows on the west side of our property, the crossing extended our walking territory considerably.

I did not get to it last year, but earlier this winter I found a new crossing site and decided to put in a suspended walkway between two sturdy young cottonwoods. This will allow us to once again take walks to a secret part of the valley, which has a hidden waterfalls and several small cedar trees nestled in a shady canyon. We only discovered this magic place a few years ago during a spring ramble to find the source of the roaring water we could hear from our back deck. But that is life here, there are constantly new experiences unfolding.

The bridge is sited on a straight level stretch of the river, about sixty feet wide. I choose two young cottonwoods, probably about thirty to forty years old. Their bark is just starting to wrinkle, they are about fifty feet tall and twenty inches in diameter. They should last as bridge anchors for many years to come.

The crossing has high banks on either side; the river sluices straight through here, with an overflow channel just up stream. These banks survived the flood of 2011 nicely, so I think they will be available for at least a couple of decades if not more.

Of course the river owns the valley bottom, so all I can do is to play the odds and hope that Hotnarko waits for a while until she decides to move across the valley floor again. You can see the remains of old channels snaking across the bottom from one side to the other; there is no safe ground when it comes to the power of running water. But then while a hundred years is a long time for us, it is just a moment in the life of the river: for over one hundred centuries Hotnarko has been roaming this valley bottom, constantly renovating her home here in the Precipice. So, in the short term, I think the chances of my little bridge surviving are good.

I used 3/8 inch galvanized wire rope for the support cables, tensioned them with a come-along and clamped the ends in place, allowing enough tail so that the cables can be loosened over the years as the trees grow in size.The deck is 2×6 rough cut lumber, strapped along the sides and fastened to the supports with good old fencing wire.

We all love it, even Chilko likes to skitter across, although the springiness of the bridge took him a while to get used to. It is also a great place to stand or sit and just watch the river, providing a very different perspective than looking out from the banks on either side.

A Zen seat hovering over the timeless flow of water.



  1. Dave, I love your writing!

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