We all have our own ways to deal with stress. Perhaps you play music or you are a secret artist who sketches late into the night. I’m sure that some of us have some less healthy coping skills…like a bottle of Jack D. Hey, no judgement…I’ve been there. But these days, one of the only things that can put my heart at ease is to run off into the middle of nowhere. There is something about a long hike, full of fresh air, and beautiful sights that can magically reset my soul. My family habitually gets upset when I run off into the wild unaccompanied. I guess they are always afraid that I will get hurt, lost, or abducted. And they can’t seem to understand why I usually don’t invite friends on my outings. But the truth is, that I don’t mind being alone. I actually rather enjoy it. I am a fierce introvert who talks to people for a living…the irony never stops when it comes to my career path in psychology. Social interaction has never been a strong point for me. In high school, I talked as little as possible and generally carried around a book so that I could stuff my nose in the pages to avoid communication in general. It’s very hard for me to interact with people, especially those I don’t know well. So it’s a given that my job can be draining at best. I love working with kids and helping them make the most of their educational opportunities, but by the time the weekend arrives, I am ready to escape.
I have needed to escape for a while. It’s been too long since I’ve felt the sun on my face, listened to the birds chirping, and have walked on those crunchy leaves. I’ve been busy, for sure, but I’ve also just been cooped up. I have been letting life get to me and I haven’t been trying to deal with it. Sometimes it is just easier to ignore your problems, go home from work, jump into you PJs, and to binge-watch Netflix with your cat on the couch. Can I get an Amen? As I wrote in my last blog post, my dad has been ill. Dealing with the impending course of his disease and the unknown has…for lack of a better term…sucked. On top of that, I recently moved far away from some very close friends in Idaho who had truly become like family to me. And a few of my loved ones have been walking through a gauntlet of difficult times this past year. I am a fixer. I hate seeing those around me in pain and I will typically do anything within my power to help them, even to my own detriment. So when I am faced with situations that are beyond my control, I tend to shut down. I feel helpless to make the situation better and so I just let it all gnaw at me until I break down. Again…not healthy….and I know this…I’m a psychologist….more irony. Cue impromptu, impulsive hiking trip.
I woke up early on Saturday morning, packed up my gear, and jumped in the car.I hit the road with a full cup of coffee and my Christmas playlist. Instant happiness. I drove west until I landed in Dupont State Forest, just south of Asheville, NC. Why there? I heard of a trail which followed a path of waterfalls. It’s winter folks. The leaves have mostly fallen from the sky, and the trees are bare. However, waterfalls are always beautiful in my mind, especially in the winter. I arrived shortly after sunrise and stepped out into the brisk 25 degree weather, grateful that I wore layers and had gloves. It was a beautiful, clear day. I had a rough idea of the path I wanted to take after a quick internet search. The trail was very well maintained and clearly marked, so I didn’t have to worry too much about getting lost. After venturing down the hill, I came to Hooker Falls. The falls open into a beautiful pool area which I would love to visit in the warmer summer months. The sunlight peaked perfectly through the tree tops and magnified the brilliance of the sparkling water. It was still early, so I took some time to think on the rocks and to let myself truly experience the site.
Eventually a small group of high school students appeared to take senior pictures, so I ventured back up the hill to started across the bridge onto Triple Falls Trail. It was still chilly and the bridge was coated in a thin layer of ice. I skated my way across and stepped onto the frozen ground, excited for everything to come.
After passing a few families who were out for a Saturday adventure, I found the stair case which led to the base of Triple Falls. The sun was shining so brightly that I had to frequently shield my eyes. Although I was basically taking photographs blind, I was pleasantly surprised to find this shot had turned out so well. Occasionally I enjoy dabbling in black and white photos and love to find interesting silhouettes. I am especially thankful to these fellow hikers who I couldn’t have posed any better for this shot. I don’t know who you are, but I am glad that there are other people who are crazy enough to go hiking on a Saturday morning when it is below freezing outside. I hope you enjoyed your adventure as much as I did.
After stopping for a short rest, I headed back up the stairs and followed the trail to the Triple Falls overlook. It was amazing to see the sheer majesty of these waterfalls. It was almost surreal because you feel like you are looking at a picture. The view is almost too beautiful to be real. I haven’t felt that way since I was in Arizona looking out over the Grand Canyon this past summer. God is one heck of an artist. His creation is something I will never get tired of looking at and exploring.
At some point, I ventured onto High Falls Trail. (I made the shot of High Falls my featured photo on this post, so look up top. 😉 I hiked out to the base of the falls and ran into a photographer getting some early morning shots before the crowds appeared. We chatted briefly about the peace of the morning before he continued up the trail. I sat for a while on a rock which overlooked High Falls and the pool of water and rocks beyond. It was certainly a sight to behold and probably my favorite stop along the trail. The continuous rushing water seemed to put life back into perspective for me. No matter what happens, how many people throw rocks into the river, or how little rain falls in the area, that waterfall continues to flow. It is persistent and relentless and it gave me the strength to remember that I need to be the same way. Life isn’t always perfect, but we just have to keep moving regardless of our present circumstances. When I was able to pull myself away, I continued up the hill and jumped over to Covered Bridge Trail, and then onto Conservation Road. A final turn onto Bridal Veil Falls Road took me out past an adorable horse barn and finally to Bridal Veil Falls.
After meeting a family vacationing from the coast and getting to know their adorable Chocolate Lab, I stopped to eat lunch and chat for a while. It was nice to enjoy the sites and to laugh as the kids played with icicles from the river. It had been quite a day. However, I still had to make it back to my car and drive home. So, I said goodbye and began backtracking down the trail. It had warmed up to around 40 degrees and there were quite a few more people out and about by that time. I even passed a few gentleman, in full gear, who were headed out fishing. They are braver than I am to get into that cold water.
My legs felt like jello by the time I crossed the bridge and made it back to my car. No doubt a combination of the cold weather and my frequent Netflix surfing recently. It felt good to be back out on the trail. That much needed fresh air did me a world of good and my stress floated away for a while. At least it should be enough to get me through until next weekend and my next adventure. 🙂 Happy trails everyone. Check out my Instagram to see the rest of my pictures from the weekend! And prints are available here. Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!