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A journey to Valhalla, Oregon’s hidden canyon

Few places on this planet have gone unexplored. Just 60 miles from Portland, Oregon, there's a natural wonder that was first spotted in 2010. Last summer, an expedition team navigated for three days to reach their goal: Valhalla Canyon. Oregon Public Broadcasting chronicles that effort in a new documentary.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    There are few places left that haven't been explored. But a team in Oregon has documented a natural wonder for the first time that's just about 60 miles from Portland. It's a spectacular half-mile gorge and narrow canyon in the Cascade Range.

    It was first spotted in 2010 by a Forest Service employee. This past summer, an expedition team spent three days navigating through it, including nine major waterfalls and a grotto that ended at a slot canyon.

    Oregon Public Broadcasting chronicled that effort in a new documentary.

    Here's an excerpt about trying to reach the Valhalla Canyon.

  • LEARN MORE:

    Discovering Valhalla, Oregon's Hidden Gorge

  • MAN:

    Oh, man.

  • BEN CANALES, Photographer:

    Being in Valhalla, it feels like you have gone into the throat of something, through the stomach and you're in it. You know, for myself, as I would say much more a normal person and not a hard-core adventurer, there's kind of just a low level of panic at the back of the mind.

    It's like, this is not normal. What's going to happen here? What's going to happen there?

  • MAN:

    Yes! It's awesome!

  • BEN CANALES:

    And so there's kind of always a little fight to keep that quelled down.

    And then there's just this thrilling excitement at the rugged beauty of it. All the fears just disappeared, and it was like, this is awesome. You know, the worry was gone, and it was just pure adventure.

  • MAN:

    As we're moving down through, all of a sudden, it just opens up into this remarkable, beautiful amphitheater, just, like, huge, towering walls on either side of you. There's just big, mossy, pour-overs, water spilling and trickling in all these places. And there's ferns and moss and green. And it's just a strikingly beautiful place. We named that Cathedral Garden.

    And it kind of took on a spiritual moment in there. Like, no one wanted to talk loud in the beginning. You know, like, we were just so impressed by it.

  • MAN:

    Valhalla!

  • NARRATOR:

    All they had to do now was get through one more night.

  • MAN:

    The walls are so steep over the top of us, and there is rockfall in this area. And, again, there's no other place to camp.

  • BEN CANALES:

    And it's, like, we're in this. This precarious situation is the safest alternative. And whatever happens, it's going to happen. It makes me feel wonderfully small in this place. It's like this comforting reprioritization of where we fit in nature and the food chain of things.

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