Thursday, November 20, 2014
I Love Waterfalls!
One of the reasons that I travel is to hunt down, hike to, and photograph waterfalls. I'm not alone in this endeavor, because I understand that there are over 10,000,000 million waterfall lovers around the world. That's a lot of people who love waterfalls. World of Waterfalls is a huge website that documents and posts photos of waterfalls from all over the world. There are over 10,000 books about waterfalls. Russell Dunn has written about a dozen just on the eastern half of the United States alone. Painters, love them. Photographers make a living on them. Niagra Falls, United States and Canada would not exist as a settlement if it weren't for the actual falls. The Eastern Seaboard wouldn't have electricity if it wasn't for them. Think about that for a moment as we all had to several years ago when the power plant over there had a problem and New York City was in the dark. It's mind boggling how important waterfalls are, and yet how much they are used as a mode to draw tourists. They are an all purpose item that is useful, beautiful, natural, and replenishes itself. Beat that. Is it any wonder that I love them so much?
Niagra has long been a fan favorite. There's probably not a waterfall anywhere in the world that is better known. It's famous for people getting married there. It's famous for people trying to go over it in a barrel. It's famous for being a border crossing for the underground railroad. It's runs an enormously powerful hydroelectric plant. Combined the two waterfalls have over 7,000 cubic meters per second of water crashing over them. That makes them not only the most famous falls in the U.S. but the falls with the highest volume as well. It also makes it tough to visit in the summer, because it is one of the busiest tourist venues in the entire country, and well known throughout the world.
There are many amazing waterfalls around the world such as Iguazu, Victoria, Kaieteur, Guillfoss, Tugela, Angel, and so on. The thing is that there are about a million waterfalls out there and the big ones are not always the best. One of my favorites is Multonomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. This one is over 600 feet high. It's impressive and it also comes with about five other amazing waterfalls and a drive on a cliff road that you will not soon forget. The view overlooking the Columbia River is breathtaking even without stopping at the amazing waterfalls. It's a treat that I'm really glad I didn't miss.
In the wilds of southern Oregon is Toketee Falls. This beautiful plunge is found along Route 138 on your way from Roseburg to Crater Lake National Park. This entire road runs through a gorge area, with ample trailheads along the way that all lead to amazing waterfalls. It's one of my favorite spots and it should not be missed by a true waterfall hunter. But, when you stop in your local bookstore or go on Amazon, look around for a book. Look online for a website. Most areas of the world have some way to look up local waterfalls. New England just happens to be famous for them. You can probably find some really pretty waterfalls close to you. I grew up in Indiana, and it was flat as a pancake, but we still had some pretty waterfalls that we could go and see. Turkey Run State Park had some gorgeous ones in a box canyon that I loved. So, look around. You might be surprised what you find.
In the northeast you can't go far without running across a waterfall. There are numerous towns named after them, which is how I have found some of them. Lots of them are right in the center of town. You can't miss them. Some towns, like Ithaca, New York are made of waterfalls. Ithaca Falls is right in the middle of town and it's enormous and over 150 feet high. There are over 100 waterfalls in the Ithaca area, most of which are part of a state park. New England is amazing with waterfalls. They are everywhere, and most of them aren't hard to walk to. That's the great part of waterfall hunting. In some places the waterfalls are remote, but in New England that's rare. We do have a high population density which probably has something to do with it. Most of the time in my area the walk to a waterfall is less than one mile.
North Carolina is another place that I visited that prides itself on the waterfalls. It's called the Land of Waterfalls in Brevard County, NC. Not far from Asheville is home to around 200 waterfalls, one of them is Whitewater Falls and it is the highest waterfall in the Eastern part of the United States at over 400 feet high. There are numerous waterfalls in the Appalachian Mountains though. The Appalachian Trail finds thousands of them along it's route.
Deleware Water Gap and Bushkill Falls Park is another popular waterfall area along the Deleware River between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The falls are plentiful and the whole area is beautiful. But the spots go on and on. Anywhere you find a hill in my country, you'll probably find a falls. It's just that simple. When I started hunting waterfalls, I had no idea what I was getting into. I needed a cheap hobby that got me out of the house on the weekends when I was young, broke and single. It's a cheap hobby. It's not like going to a club, a show, or a casino. It's just communing with nature, and it's healthy and pretty. You tend to meet people along the way, and you become kind of part of a club. It's like being a biker. When you meet other waterfall people, you automatically have something to commiserate on. It's a great icebreaker. When I took the day and went to Silver Falls State Park in Central Western Oregon, I met dozens of people who were just like me. They had to be for that one, because that park was hidden and it took me researching in a book to find it.
There are tons of places to find waterfalls. Like I keep telling my friends, they are everywhere. Some of the most beautiful waterfalls I ever saw were inside the Grand Canyon. I'm not joking. There's a whole village down there called Supai Village, and it's inhabited by the Havasupai Indians. They have a ten mile or so trail that goes from their village to the Colorado, and there are some amazing waterfalls along the way. Not bad for sitting in the middle of the desert.
So, I've not discussed in any detail waterfalls outside the contiguous 48 United States, but there are waterfalls out there, whether they be the classic project of the 1930's that is Watkins Glen or the 22 cascades of Rickets Glen. Whether they are the famous falls of Yosemite or Yellowstone or the more unsung beauties like Kaaterskill. They are out there and they are beautiful. I can't say enough amazing things about waterfalls. They are wonderful. They are soothing. Hiking to them helps with stress. It's great to get away from it all. If you like to walk, then they are your friend, because in the summer when the heat is too much, the streams that you follow to the waterfalls are cool. The waterfalls tend to provide spray and a swimming area to beat the heat. They are wonderful in so many ways that I could spend all day talking about them. Believe me, get closer to God and go find some waterfalls. Take your camera too. You'll get hooked on photography. Enjoy!