Like so many places in Portland, Reach Falls is almost too beautiful, a parody of itself - a crystalline mountain spring which pours over a sharp cliff face into an aquamarine pool, then spills out again into a cratered descent, each rocky bowl a little waterfall. We swam under the cold clean cascade into unnervingly dark caves behind, and spent happy hours racing sticks down the rapids. From the tree-canopied bowl above the waterfall, we could see the silver river stretching away into the forest. Before I'd had time to evaluate the safety of the mission, my sons had set off up the thundering river, sliding over boulders, wading across deep beds and commissioning the 'mama boat' when the cold dark river became too unnerving.
Part of Portland's charm is the way it combines breathtaking beauty with a bare minimum of tourists and a laid back approach to health and safety and other joyless laws. There was no rope, no sign, no one to tell me not to swim deep into the jungle with a little boy on each shoulder.
Eventually, we floated back towards the rapids, climbed up the hill, and headed towards the smokey smell of jerk coming from the car park, where spicy chicken warmed their shivery little bodies, and I found heaven in a $1 cup of lobster soup.