Waterfalls & The Healing Power Of Adventure

November 30, 2023

Barnett Branch Trail Falls

Our booklet, Waterfall Healing: Discovering the Healing Power of Waterfalls, describes nine healing properties that waterfalls are uniquely suited to provide. Let’s take a look here at the first of the nine, ADVENTURE, a blend of curiosity, anticipation, discovery, stimulation and risk. Human beings are born to adventure. We have laser-like systems poised to deal with danger. Look at yourself in a mirror, an upright biped with mobility, speed and quickness. You have binocular vision to detect the subtlest of threats. You have five remarkable senses that make “sense” of all you encounter. How about opposable thumbs for grasping everything from chinaware to chainsaws? You are indeed fully equipped for the risks that comprise the adventure of living! 

The problem is that for many of us, we can’t just turn off these ages-old survival systems, and so, in dreary daily life, we yearn for a boost of primal stimulation to fend off boredom. Unfortunately, and often because people simply know no better, this boost may come from alcohol, drugs, sex, or a wild array of craziness that is ultimately damaging. But, there is an antidote for boredom – curiosity, the wellspring of adventure, and one of our most basic instincts. Pursuing natural curiosity is fun and a great way to observe how humans encounter the world. 

The waterfall environment is an ideal place to explore your sense of curiosity. Just let go – if some fern, rock formation or stream feature catches your eye, go for it! Oh, and by the way, curiosity is the springboard to the most wonderful activity there is – play! Just watch little kids at a waterfall! 

Here are four quick scenarios that illustrate waterfall adventure in action: 

  1. One of the most fascinating aspects of waterfalling is the awesome power of falling water. Some falls are trickles, others near Niagaras. Usually a face-to-face encounter with the brute force of plunging water, even just putting your outstretched hand in the flow, is utterly exhilarating. 
  2. Sometimes it’s a bit risky, but many falls have a way to get behind the plume of water into its noisy, echo-y secret world. Looking out at the sunshine through the draperies of plunging water can be exhilarating! 
  3. It always amazes me that a waterfall flows 24/7/365 – even when, like the proverbial tree that falls in the wilderness, I’m not there to behold it! So catch a falls during its off hours, especially at night. The amplified crash of water, the sparkles of moonlit spray, and the spookiness of night can be mind-blowing. 
  4. Some falls are located right next to roads with convenient parking lots; others require a veritable expedition to get to them. In the case of some very spectacular falls, no trail goes to them, the terrain is rugged, and foliage nearly impassable. Sounds scary and forbidding but there is adventure and satisfaction in navigating to a remote falls. By all means, don’t go alone, and before you go, take ample time to learn how to use a map and compass (and/or the GPS on your phone, in case there’s a signal where you’re going), review detailed guidebook descriptions, and then plunge into the woods. There is no way you can remain in a bored funk in the process of such an adventure! 

Waterfall Healing: Discovering the Healing Power of Waterfalls has dozens more ideas for countering boredom and providing the lift you may need!

Dr. Tom Kopp, WKNC Waterfall Wellness Coordinator