Switzer Falls: Part 1
Let me just start by saying that everyone participating on this hike did not – I repeat – did not expect the two-hour hike to turn into 8.5 hours. But the important thing is that we survived it. And to me, it was still a pretty awesome day that left me with great memories (see photos).
My brother had been planning other hikes that were much longer, like 10-15 miles or so. If you know Switzer Falls Trail, you’ll agree that it’s a fairly easy path to hike – under five miles – and it loops back to the beginning. That’s one reason my brother asked our parents to join us. My sister, two cousins, and my cousin’s wife also came along. This one turned out to be a family trip, so we looked forward to spending some nice leisurely time together.
When we arrived, the air was cool and we were in good spirits. The path was level alongside a stream. Occasionally, the trail continued on the other side of the stream and we’d step on stones that offered a way to cross the downstream. We were having so much fun that it almost appeared as though we were hopping and skipping over the water. At some point, the path narrowed away from the stream and began to wind its way against the side of a mountain.
Then we started walking uphill. On the open side, we were graced with an amazing view of the mountains and valleys, near and far. We enjoyed the sight and chatted while gradually hiking up the path. We continued for a few more miles and were met by waterfalls of varying sizes along the way.Eventually, the path sloped downwards and back next to the stream. By now, we were three hours into the trip, so we decided to stop for a snack break. Once we’d eaten, we felt good so we kept on moving, crossing the water a few more times, moving farther and farther away from where we’d started.
Suddenly, the trail was divided by a wider body of water and we had to make a choice of how to continue. It felt just like a dramatic moment in a family movie. Choice A: Walk straight across the balance beam of a fallen tree that was conveniently bridging our path from one end to the other. Choice B: Strategize which combo of slippery rocks and stones to maneuver our bodies across. Hmmmm…. Further deliberation was required. Choice A: Loose bark on a moistened tree trunk. Oh, and did I mention that the tree was at least 10 feet off the ground with big scary-looking rocks and running water beneath us? And yeah, I’m not forgetting that my mother was with us; my mother who is not necessarily the fittest woman, my mother who somehow managed not to sleep a wink the night before. Ok, back to choice B, which – without hesitation – one of my cousins decided to take because clearly getting wet was much more preferable to the risk of cracking one’s head open from a fall. Hmmm…? Well, we decided that we were all in for an adventure, so the rest of us took the tree trunk route, stretching our hands out and putting one foot in front of the other. My little sis, who’s afraid of heights, did an amazing job. Then it was my mother’s turn. My dad and I would take our turns after her. I watched my mother’s every step and she was fantastic! Then my dad went – easy! My turn next. I tried not to think about the loose bark on the tree that would have sent me sailing. Instead, my mind focused on being quick and steady. That did the job. Yay, we got to the other side and were all safe. With everyone feeling very cheerful and relieved, we continued.
And this was when we came to our awesome detour, although by awesome I mean the moment when we wished we could have turned back. One of us decided that it would be a good idea to make our way back to our car by following upstream, which would be a new route. Three of us, however, decided that this did not feel right because we could not see a beaten path. We remembered seeing cyclists heading in the opposite direction and they looked like regulars, so surely they must know how to get home. If we went that way, we’d have to turn back and climb that tree again or leap across the rocks. What were we going to do?
What did we end up doing? We climbed the tree and crossed that stream again. This time, my mother chose the rocks and half the team went with her. I had been carrying a camera with me throughout the day and just had to capture this funny moment of our family doing it all over again. Once we had all crossed safely, we walked a few more miles before we finally and gladly came across the cyclists taking a rest. All we wanted to do now was how to get home, so we asked them if they knew if this path would make a loop.
“No, it’s a straight line.” With those words, we all looked at each other and were resigned to what we had to do.
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[tags]hiking, trail, outdoors, mountains, streams, waterfalls, Switzer Falls, family fun, adventure[/tags]