A Walk to the Falls

today I went on a walk.

It’s been an incredibly long year already and it’s only February 15th. I don’t say that in a complaining way – more of an “I’ve been so busy that I haven’t stopped to smell the roses” kind of way. Today I went on a walk to smell the roses and they weren’t that fragrant, but still good.

I went to bed last night with good intentions of waking up early, putting on my new Columbia gear, and taking my dog for a walk before I got started on my work for the day. Early ended up being 8:30am, which is not early at all, and I sat down and started working despite my own promise to myself. I had to force myself to change into my hiking gear, grab my camera, and make sure the front seat was cleared for my dog, Novella.


We ended up at a nearby park called Buttermilk Falls. There is a great clearing for Novella to run around in before we hit the trails and it was the perfect day; did I mention it was sixty degrees in February?! After a couple rounds of fetch, we headed out for our one miles hike to the “falls”. I was excited to get some fresh air in my lungs, sunshine on my face, and energy pumping through my veins.

Quickly I realized that this was going to be a messy trip – Novella ended up in a muddy creek within 10 minutes of walking and the trails were still covered in ice so I had to be careful that I didn’t fall and end up covered in mud as well. As we walked further into the woods, I remembered how enclosed the trail becomes. Fog started to settle in and the falls were roaring even a mile out. It startled me as I looked down the ledge to my right and saw how high the water was and how fast it was moving. Water is one of those things that fascinates, yet terrifies me. If Novella or I fell in, there was no way we were getting out without help, and there wasn’t a soul around.

Now I had several thoughts happening:
1. Don’t lose your footing on the ice.
2. Don’t let Novella fall in the water.
3. Don’t fall in the water.
4. Why do I keep throwing her ball when it could land up close to the water?
5. Why did I leave my phone in the car?

This walk was slowly turning into a perilous trip – if only in my head. Novella stayed close to me whenever I told her to and my footing was surer that I was imagining, but still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something else in the atmosphere. I kept passing trail entrances that lead to the water, which in the summer were always an inviting sight, but today they kept taunting me – pressuring me to walk down them and get just a little bit closer to the water.

Arriving at the falls, I could now clearly see the danger that the water presented to anyone near so I snapped a couple of quick photos and we made our exit, but not before Novella’s hair stood on end and she took her position of guarding me from something – something that neither of us could see. The fog, the ice, and the rushing waters were creating a spooky vibe and I wanted to make haste out of there.

The walk back felt twice as long as the walk in and I couldn’t help but take a peek over my shoulder every couple hundred of feet. I breathed a sigh of relief when we reached the main clearing and felt instantly better now that we were out of the woods. Novella played fetch for about another half hour and then we headed home.

I drove home thinking about the feeling that I had back at the falls – like something larger than life was pushing down on us in the fog. It was a feeling that made me catch my breath and want to huddle into a ball with my dog. It’s one of those times that I didn’t feel in immediate danger – just that mother nature wanted me to remember how small I really am in the universe. Looking back at the photos I took today, it amazes me how large I see my dog and myself in our house, and how tiny we actually are out in the world. I went out on this walk with the intention of relaxing and resetting myself for the day of work ahead but instead I ended up with a renewed sense of where I stand on this earth. We play a very tiny part. Even though I feel important in my own home, my job, my church, etc., to the universe I am not that important at all. That fog back in the woods would still obscure views, the waters would still rush on, the moss would still grow on fallen trees if I wasn’t here – and I think it’s important that we are reminded of that every now and then.

So even though I couldn’t take long to stop and smell anything let alone the nonexistent roses, I did appreciate the time that I was able to take and get outside for a bit.

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