A Sunday afternoon errand led to a spontaneous detour to an area I had not visited in a few years. Even though the authorities fenced it off, you obviously can’t keep people away from this place:
A short walk into the woods leads to this magical swimming hole:
Two men in the water ask me to take their picture and to publish it “in the paper.” They even tell me their names and where they are from. The water was ice-cold, one of them said.
I follow the water past the swimming hole:
Without hesitation, the clear, cold water flows over the edge; simply disappears. I can hear roaring and crashing down below but cannot see past the drop-off point. I wonder how close I can get to the edge and still be safe.
I want to get to the bottom of things. I was grateful that I had exchanged my sandals for an old pair of walking shoes before I left my car behind. I find the little rocky path I remembered from before:
The path stops suddenly where the hillside has been smothered with large rocks. Did they really think this rock wall would keep determined folks from finding their way down? I am annoyed and I do hesitate – if I fall or twist my ankle, there won’t be any easy way to get back up.
I sling my camera over my shoulder and carefully test each rock I step on. Some are loose; some are fairly large so that I have to scoot down on my butt. I meet a millipede on the way:
And when I am almost at the bottom, I see that I am not alone:
I watch this young couple climb up the bottom of the falls and disappear behind the water fall:
I climb down a little further but am so close now to the falls that I have to protect my camera from the water spray. Jewelweed is growing waist-high here and collecting water beads on its leaves. The waterfall is simply glorious, unselfconsciously magnificent:
I am tempted by that place behind the curtain of water, where green moss is growing and everything is glistening with moisture:
But not today and not by myself… Now, to climb back up the wall of boulders. Relieved, I realize that it is actually easier to climb up than down. When I am almost at the top,
I notice what I had totally missed on the way down. I was so busy looking down finding safe passage for my feet that I did not see what was hanging ABOVE my head:
My heart skips a beat and for the first time I feel a little scared. I can see a few large wasps at the entrance of the hanging nest. Did I actually slide down the rocks underneath that thing? Maybe I was moving so slowly that the wasps didn’t consider me a threat…. I remember a story my husband tells of climbing a rock wall and being stung by several hornets who did not like his face so close to their lofty nest. Unlike him, I don’t think I could calmly take the pain without swatting and possibly losing my balance.
“Please ignore me, dear wasps, I am no threat to you. Pretend I am not there.” If there was a wasp god, I was praying to him while giving this pendulous nest the widest berth possible.
I feel very relieved when my feet stumble over the final large boulder and find that little rocky path again. I escape with only a few mosquito bites.
Back at the top, outside the damaged fence, I decide to walk the brief distance to the safe overlook where I am “supposed” to take photos from and take this parting shot:
P.S. I’ve had this funny feeling that the wasp nest represented some kind of warning. Today, two days after the waterfall visit, I accidentally ran the lawnmower over the entrance of an underground yellow jackets nest and got stung twice – on my ankle and in my armpit. Both places are sporting huge swellings, each as big as my whole hand placed over it! They really got my attention now…