Collecting Waterfalls


Dry Falls, North Carolina

Some interesting person in the past told me she and her husband collect waterfalls. How do they do that? By taking pictures and making a list of waterfall names. I thought it was a delightful idea. I haven’t made a collection but I have always enjoyed waterfalls. Like ocean waves forever rolling in, the mighty white water speaks of God’s eternal strength and creativity.

The most incredible falls I’ve experienced was Niagara. Another one never to forget is Multnomah Falls in Oregon. The nearest falls to my home in North Georgia and the highest east of the Mississippi (yes, higher than Niagara, just nothing like as big) is Toccoa Falls. But waterfalls of the Blue Ridge Mountains are so captivating and lovely, so special to visit with family.

On a recent Saturday my brother Charlie drove several of us on a short trip from Clayton, Georgia into North Carolina. We particularly wanted to see the little town of Highlands and to renew acquaintance with the beauty of several falls, including spectacular Dry Falls. We all had special memories of walking safely and almost drily behind Dry Falls. The falls has a drop of eighty feet, forty of which are free fall. Because of its falling away from a rock outcropping, the Falls has plenty of room for a walkway behind the rushing water.

Dry Falls, also known as Upper Cullasaja Falls, is in the Nantahala Forest. My father, an artist, found great joy in being close to, listening to, experiencing waterfalls. His passion for waterfalls is reflected in many of his pastel works of art. He and Mamma enjoyed taking as many of us as would fit in the 1934 Packard on day trips to this waterfall and others.

On this recent Saturday three of Dad’s children and their chosen ones, all senior citizens now, started down the sturdy steps from the Dry Falls parking lot, all filled with great anticipation. Some of us turned back to wave to our sister-in-law Reggie who, with her own special memories, sat contentedly on a safe viewing platform while we navigated the steep damp steps.

The water crashing onto rocks below was so loud we could hardly communicate with each other. We used sign language, shouted some, and each remembered other visits to these falls. It was a time of connecting with the past and exulting in the present.

For Suzanne it was a reminder of hers and Bill’s honeymoon fifty-one years ago. Also, Suzanne was elated that, because of God’s goodness and miracles of modern medicine, both her knees worked just fine going down and back up. Her most recent knee replacement was done only a few months ago.

Charlie and Elaine enjoyed thinking about their first time to see the falls together on a date long ago. Both of them are plagued with back problems but made the hike without any problems.

My own experience began with our trips when I was little. As I grew up, I had this picture in my mind of this wonderful place where we walked behind a waterfall. But I had no idea where it was. As an adult, while sightseeing in the mountains with my husband, I told him about Dry Falls. Being the discoverer that he is, he relentlessly hunted until he found this magical place. I was as excited as a little kid again! Now with my new pacemaker I was thrilled to be able to walk down like the rest and reconnect once more with this mighty spectacle.

But we were all disappointed when we arrived at the bottom. A sign on a locked gate informed us that, due to falling rock, the trail behind the Falls is closed. We looked wistfully along the walkway where we once had traipsed gleefully back and forth.

Still, the view was marvelous, yes, awesome. How many gallons of water thunder over that precipice every hour, we wondered. The cool spray misted our faces. The smell of damp moss sweetened the air. Spring had not yet come to the laurels and rhododendrons crowding close, but the promise was there.

We ate lunch in quaint little Highlands at a cozy restaurant named Wild Thyme. Fortified with soup and sandwiches, we were ready to enjoy more waterfalls including Bridal Veil which, as the name implies, is a filmy white cascade. The unusual feature of it is that, for many years, cars could drive behind the Falls located right beside highway 64. Now, for safety purposes, viewers have to park to take pictures.

We saw several other waterfalls that day, some splashes and trickles down mossy rock faces, some distant ones, shining white water spilling from a greening mountainside, some so far away we couldn’t hear the water at all, like Estcoa Falls.

It was a beautiful cool day for “collecting” waterfalls and enjoying family time, a good day for remembering other times and for storing new experiences to pull out and reflect on later. I can still hear the thunderous roar of Dry Falls and the musical splash of Bridal Veil.

A roadside falls                                    Bridal Veil

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