The Second Day: Hike to the Bottom of the Falls

We woke up cold in the middle of the night, but grabbed the sleeping bag that was under our air mattress and covered up with that. It was a wonderful feeling. We slept in until after 9, but being on Central Time, it was really only after 8 for everybody else. We decided to stay on Eastern time since we’ll only be here for a few days. So we’re going to bed earlier and getting up earlier than everybody else.

After breakfast, we drove to the Nature Center and hiked across the swinging bridge, along the rim of the gorge, stopping at sever overlooks along the way. At one overlook, we sat and talked for so long that I lost track of time. We only got up when other hikers came to the overlook as well.

This trail was more familiar to me and I remembered the rough terrain and the rocks. When we came to the Fall Creek Falls overlook, we kept on going, heading down into the gorge. The trail had eroded significantly since I last remembered. They had also put a fence up along the trail to keep you from going over the edge.

I remembered cutting across the switchbacks, but it wouldn’t have been possible today. Besides, the poison ivy was out everywhere and it was hard enough to avoid it even when staying on the trail.

We made it to the bottom, passing another memory from my childhood along the way: A rock formation that looked like it went back into a cave. There was a cool breeze coming from the opening and we rested there for a moment.

When we got to the base of the falls, it was the most crowded I had ever seen it.

There was a large youth group there, sprawled across the rocks and the water and even behind the falls. The mist at the bottom was cool and refreshing to the point you got chill bumps after sitting for a few minutes. We sat and rested and touched the water–surprisingly cold. But as the youth group made signs of leaving, we hurried to beat them back up the trail.

We made it none too soon, because, even though we couldn’t hear them on the way up, when we sat to rest at the top, they were only a few minutes behind us. We watched the group straggle up the trail, coming in threes and fours, in various shapes and sizes and in wet clothes and bathing suits. We were relieved not to be at that stage of our lives again. I look back at all my insecurity and foolishness and see how stupid I was.

We took the short way back to the car, but were stalled going over the suspension bridge (weight limit 6 people) as there were people on both sides waiting to cross.

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