January 18, 2023
When I first began visiting waterfalls in the late 1990s, I always stayed on the trail. I had visited Log Hollow Falls in Pisgah National Forest more than once, and in 2003 I was back at the trailhead for another visit. The forest road that serves as the trail crosses another creek on the way to Log Hollow and on this day, it occurred to me that there might be a waterfall on this creek also. There was no trail up this creek, so I set off through the woods following the creek upstream.
After ten to fifteen minutes of light bushwhacking, I began to hear the distinctive sound of falling water just ahead. I then saw glimpses of white water through the trees and my heart began racing. A minute or two later, I had a full view of this beautiful cascading waterfall over fifty feet high! As far as I knew, no one else had documented this waterfall, so I unofficially named it Discovery Falls and added it to my web site to share with others.
My friends and I continued to find more undocumented waterfalls in the following years and so have other people that have that same love of waterfalls and exploring. It’s always a thrill to hear that sound of falling water, not knowing what lies just ahead. It’s not only finding new waterfalls that gets me excited about being outdoors. I’m also a plant nerd and a bird nerd. I get just as big of a thrill these days finding a wildflower or plant I have never seen or spotting a new bird that I can add to my life list.
Humans are curious creatures by nature, but you don’t have to go off trail or do anything crazy to get that thrill of discovery. Maybe you can attempt a trail to a waterfall that’s listed as more difficult than you think you can handle. Maybe you’ll pay more attention to what you see along the trail than you have in the past and develop a passion for the many native wildflowers and plants you can see along the trails. Maybe you’ll discover something about yourself and your abilities that you didn’t know you had in you. Are you willing to try?
Rich Stevenson is a Board Member of Waterfall Keepers.