This year has put me in quite a funk, I tell ya.
I’m an introvert, but even we introverts need our people. I knew that when this whole mess started, so I put together a “QuaranTEAM” of my ‘chosen family’ and the five of us quarantined together. But after five months, you still get a little stir crazy to see people outside of your bubble.
And as if the isolation wasn’t enough, it seems with each passing day that the world gets curiouser and curiouser. It seems the world has lost itself to extremes, and there’s just no room for moderation anymore. My social media feeds have become toxic cesspools of vitriol and hate, from people I just never expected such behavior from. As the world of shopping malls and restaurants have shut down, the parks and natural places that I have always run to for solace have become crowded, dirty and loud. People who have seemingly never been outside a day in their lives have shuffled onto trails where they stare – almost absent-mindedly – into the void of nature, completely oblivious to runners and walkers as they try to scoot by them, nevermind trying to maintain six feet of social distance.
I’ve tried to plan my outings carefully, strategically. I’ve tried to keep my patience – and said a small prayer that people are finding a love of nature that they will nourish for years to come, even after (if ever) life returns to ‘normal’. But I am wearing thin. I am tired. Some days I am crushingly sad.
I headed for the mountains yesterday, two vehicles full of people I love, to see a waterfall I’ve read about many times but never carved out the time to visit – Minnehaha Falls in Lakemont, Georgia. It was about a 90 minute drive, which in a topless, doorless Jeep, is no time at all.
The last 30 minutes of the drive found us on dirt roads that wound their way through sleepy little Georgia towns. In the last ten minutes or so, you got the distinct feeling that you might be lost, but I trusted my GPS to take me where it claimed the Falls to be. I did eventually see a confidence marker about 2 miles out.
Arriving to the Falls, which are located just off the side of hillside dirt road, there is a very small parking area – maybe four cars. Each of the spots were occupied, but I made quick work of finding a spot where only a Jeep could park and then set about procuring a spot for our second vehicle. It was only a few minutes before a lovely group descended from the trail and prepared to leave, so we chatted cordially with them until the departed and proudly claimed their parking spot.
The trail starts up some steep stairs, but then levels out some. It was rooty and damp, but easy enough for our party to navigate, including the four year old. It was a very very short hike – less than a quarter of a mile according to my GPS. We could hear the falls tumbling over the rocks before we even lost sight of the Jeep.
Despite the really easy hike, the falls were GORGEOUS. Probably my favorite so far. I even told Teri that it felt like cheating, getting to experience such breathless beauty with so little investment. I have certainly hiked further and harder for much less. Because it is so easily accessible, it was pretty busy, with maybe 15 other people visiting. The base of the falls are wide and there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the nature while being separated from other guests. And because it’s so easy to get in and out, most people didn’t linger for very long, so it was easy to wait for moments where no other patrons were around to get pristine photos.
I needed yesterday. My soul has grown wild and unsettled, ready to pick up travel and feed the side of me that only nature and adventure can satisfy. I can only hope that soon this entire year of discourse will be behind all of us, just an unpleasant memory that we use to learn from, know better, and do better.