Confessions of a Waterfall Junkie


I am a waterfall junkie.

Give me a place where the current gushes into a pool below and I will drive and hike miles and miles to swim like a giddy otter. So when the summer trip was heading to Texas to see the wife’s fam, I remembered a few falls I’d seen in Northern Alabama and put a two day camping waypoint on the itinerary.

We got to DeSoto falls around 6 on Saturday evening. It’s at least a hundred feet over the cliffs. My junkie mind first looked to see if a jump was possible, evaluating the depth and the appearance of rocks. Really high. Uncertain landing. Maybe. But the iron bars with multiple warning signs–along with Nicole’s reminders to keep Juno away from the edge–kept me honest. Second it looked to see if there was a way to the bottom. No dice on that count either. No biggie. I sat contently in the evening sun–golden hour, as my whiz photographer of a wife informs me–as Nicole took pictures and the rush of the water soothed my spirit.

Nicole really is amazing with a camera, and it’s clear that with her keen photographic eye, we often see waterfalls with two sets of eyes. The photographer looks for the perfect light and composition of the waterfall; the junkie in me wants to jump over the cliffs and in the water and off the rocks. As such, the most I often get are the blurry iPhone photos you see on this post. Nowhere was this clearer than on our second day at Little Canyon River Falls.

At the top of the falls, we lolled about with Atticus and Juno in the shallow pools. I ducked in and out of the water, and Nicole took some pictures, but the light was harsh from a photographic point of view.

Later, the bottom of the falls called me. The website and the park ranger had called the hike to the bottom “treacherous,” which worried Nicole, but set my whistle. I like a bit of danger in my outdoor adventure. It adds a little hot sauce to my taco, but it’s probably why I have screws and wires in my neck.

The hike down was steep descent over a cliff. Juno was nervous until I showed her the way down. We crossed a field of boulders under the cliff. Then I came to the falls–two, actually. A vast expansive pool, a small cave to the side, a rock jutting twenty feet above the water where people were climbing to dive in. It wasn’t super dangerous, but it took balance to hike it: the kind of place your parents would keep you from if you had traveled here, but if you would have come here with yer mom and them since you were a little kid if you were from around these parts.

I slung my pack up on the rock. Juno sat guard. I jumped in and felt the beautiful wild freedom of swimming I the falls. I climbed the rock and jumped in, just tall enough to make the heart race.

Nicole was waiting at the top, so I didn’t stay long. I grabbed my phone to snap a few pics for the blog. The sun was high–surely not golden hour–but these pics were not the grail for me; the dripping river water, the joy of the hike and the swim and the jump left my soul singing the whole way back up the trail.


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