Waterfall Challenge: Minnehaha

Ever wonder if the world enjoys making mock of your special projects? Then you wonder if you’re being just a little too cynical. Then you get some breakfast in you, warm up, take a look at your digital photos, and suddenly the world looks ethereally beautiful again…

What the heck am I talking about?

Well, I’ve done a lot of waterfall walking over the last few months. I’ll be blogging weekly about my many adventures.

The first new post HAD to be Minnehaha (Boyd, p. 112), and there’s a whole different story to share than I thought there would be.

New Minnehaha cascade

I mean, Minnehaha…

The joke’s there in the name.

We should have known going in, my husband and I, that this wasn’t going to be a simple journey, even though the book said the site was a mere 10 miles from the mountain B&B we were staying in, and that the trail was short enough to be the perfect early morning walk. SO, we decided to leave my teenager snoozing in his warm bed and head out before breakfast. Surely we’d be back in under an hour for the amazing goodies Linda was up cooking for us…

Yeah, winding country roads and vague directions and crusty, just-got-up eyes… It took us almost an hour to find the place. NOT the warm fuzzy start we’d been hoping for.

And you know why we drove past the obscure opening to the trail up to the falls SEVERAL times?Because this is someone’s idea of how to torture newbies who don’t know the area.

Here’s the marker.

Can you hear it laughing? Hahahahaha…

stairs sign

Yep. That’s a rickety-looking (though plenty-sturdy, we evenutally discovered) set of wooden stairsup the side of a steep hill that climbed out of a nearly-nonexistent shoulder beside the barely-single-lane country highway we’d been retracing our progress on for what seemed like forever. And the hand-painted marker is the only clue we were to be given (nothing mentioned in the book about it, BTW, just that we were to park in the space across the road, overlooking a drop-off into a lake).

And, yep, the color’s off on the photo because it was just past dawn, so seeing the local practical joke of a sign (hahahaha, it sang at us when we finally caught on) would have been difficult to see our first pass by, even if we had known what we were looking for).




Because, that’s just the beginning of this story. The cranky part. The learning-curve message part that I’ve come to embrace about my waterfall challenge. Whether I’ve ventured out with my family or solo since that morning, the excitement of finding each isolated spot is now part of the thrill.

That day, with a rustic set of stairs heckling me, I learned a valuable lesson about making time to explore while I hunt water. There was no real need for my husband and I to rush back. Mike and Linda at the inn had their eye on the teenager, and breakfast would be waiting for us. And the world that morning was unusually quiet and new. Absolutely beautiful.

What difference did it make how many times we had to back track until we found our prize?

And what was that prize? Even though the falls pic at the top of the post is awe-inspiring (Minnehaha is a 60 ft. cascade), it wasn’t the most amazing thing we saw.

Here’s the eye-opener we’d have missed if we weren’t up at the butt-crack of dawn and driving slow because we didn’t know where we were going or how the truck’s tires would respond to the rough dirt road.

feeder lake

That’s one of the feeder lakes fed by the down-stream running water that flows over the falls. And that’s the sun, hazy in the morning sky just after rising. And steam misting off the lake like angels wings, covering everything in other-worldly haze.

We just stopped. Right there in the middle of the road. And stared.

The cranky fell away, and suddenly it didn’t matter if we never found the falls, or how long it would take to get back.

The joke in the name? Maybe it’s that the world around the falls (between us and the attraction/destination we’d struck out to discover) was the amazing thing we shouldn’t miss. And we needed an obscure sign hidden from the road and the casual eye to remind us of that.

Slow down, that rickety sign says to me now every time I see it. Look around your. Explore what’s not in your book of mountain water destinations. See what’s there just for you, because your eyes are open and your heart is at peace and there’s nowhere, nothing, but this moment…

Yes, I’ve been back since. We took our son, who skipped rocks for almost an hour. And I’ve taken a notebook and worked on what I now call the “thinking” rock at the base of the waterfall’s pool. You can see it here–the flat boulder at the lower right of the photo that’s perfect for sitting and dreaming and creating.

New Minnehaha plotting rock

This will be a magical place for many future stories, I predict. I’ll bring as many of my writer friends as I can here. We’ll all laugh at the stairs and the mocking sign.

While inside, I’ll be smiling and remembering a perfect, lost morning when I saw water rising up to greet the morning sun, setting the world on fire…

Go find your own surprise this week.

Get outside and give the world a chance to play it’s joke on you.

You’ll be glad you did ;o)



Tags: , , ,

3 Responses to “Waterfall Challenge: Minnehaha”

  1. GladysMP says:

    It’s easy to see how you missed the location sign for Minnehaha Falls. And the name does seem to be mocking you; but the falls was worth the backtracking. I love falls. I once took a long hike in North Carolina to visit a falls in a very out-of-the-way spot. It, too was worth it. I think I enjoy the falls with beautiful scenery around them more than I did Niagara Falls; although that is a great site. The flower beds on the Canadian side of the falls were unbelievably beautiful.

  2. JOYE says:

    Interesting article. Where exactly is Minnehaha Falls? I live in Arizona and we have a few here but nothing majestic-like.

  3. Debra Guyette says:

    I hvae always like that name. It always makes me smile

Leave a Reply