The Soul of the Matter: Get in there!

Yeah, this is a Waterfall Challenge update, too, ’cause the pics are from yesterday’s five mile interior hike to an amazing destination. But, really, what I took was an interior journey most of all. Five miles can take a few hours to hike, or if you’re willing to get in there and see the soul of the magnificence living around you, it can be an all-day experience. Guess which of these adventures I took yesterday ;o) Come with me to Raven Cliffs, but only if you’re willing to get down and dirty…

I’m what you might call an in-your face waterfall girl. Otherwise, I wouldn’t end up with pictures and memories like this one.

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Or this one.

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Or this one.

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Each of these minor cascades were mere warm-ups to the big finish. Lots of folks might have pushed right by the lesser experiences I stopped and lived to the fullest. They’d never have gotten close enough to feel the fine mist of these crashing, rolling moments on their faces and clothes. After all, 2.5 miles, in means 2.5  miles out, and there’s an amazing finish ahead–cliffs with water sluicing down through them! The rest is just backdrop and filler. And then there’s the rest of your day you need to get back to.  Time to hurry, right?

Wrong. This WAS my day. My entire day. I wasn’t leaving a single moment of it behind, until I’d felt it all.

See what I mean?

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That definitely deserves a closer look, right?

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And if you really get in there, and I mean get your face just over the rushing coolness of the mountain water crashing before you, this is what your world becomes…

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It took me twice as long to walk in, as it did to walk out. Each new step in, to what I’d heard was a killer destination I couldn’t miss, was a priceless moment of discovery, even though a storm was threatening. I refused to leave a single opportunity behind. Oh, and it WAS raining. A lot. Up on ridges, near the top of a mountain range. Which was also an experience I wouldn’t have passed on for the world. A-MAZING! Felt like I was hiking through a rain forest, or the closest this GA girl is going to get to a rain forest any time soon.

But it also made things muddy, as I tried to get myself down to the water’s level. Let’s just say, my hiking boots are my BEST SHOE PURCHASE EVER, no matter what else you see in my Shoes are my Heroin posts ;o) My boots keep me off my ass when I’m scrambling down embankments, off the established trail, after finding clearings and obscure paths that get me closer and then closer and finally so close that my nose was practically in the creek while the water splashed and broke and lived around me. However, they don’t keep me clean. Sometimes, if you want to experience the best stuff, you’ve gotta get dirty.

At least, if you want to see this, you do. Isn’t the contrast between the moss and the water and the boulders worth it? Can you imagine not capturing this moment for yourself, when you’re this close?

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Dirty means seeing the water’s soul, something I can’t have if I merely watch from a distance. I want to breathe with the water. I want to hear it sing and see it smile. If perspective is everything, then moving water teaches me this truth best. You have to “get in there” to really know what you’re seeing. You have to become a part of the landscape, before it truly comes alive for you. This is the soul of the  matter that I come to these forests and mountains and isolated places to rediscover, when I’m too much in my head and too removed from my life and needing to remember to slow down and become the journey itself, rather than forging onward, blindly, to whatever destination awaits me at the end.

And speaking of the end. Try this perspective on for size. These pictures don’t do Raven Cliffs justice, because my smart phone wasn’t correcting for light and shadow the way I wanted it to.

But here’s what the water up close, rushing through virtical cliffs that stretch to the horizon looked like closer.

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And closer still.

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It was one of those angels singing moments by the time I was practically taking pictures from the very base of the falls.

And this is what it looked like from a distance.

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Is it just me, or is the “awe” all in getting in there, until you’re practically drowning in the moment you’re wanting to capture? If you’re not experiencing the very heart, the soul, of what you’re seeing, are you really seeing it?

I feel the same way about writing story, which is why I need a mental health break like I’ve taken this week. And why some folks think I’m nuts for wanting to climb and slide and walk through the mud to get to the heart of what feeds both my serenity and creativity.

But for me, the best moments in life are the ones that make us dream. They make us stop. They make us see. Slow down and get in there, wherever your there is, as often as you can. Get dirty and get off the trail and let the others who don’t have the time pass you buy. Breathe in the best of where and who you are when you find these magical places.

Don’t just gaze at the god stuff from a distance. Get yourself in there and become part of your memories.

Like me, when I was driving exhausted and happy back from Raven Cliffs to my mountain inn, you’ll be so glad you did ;o)

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14 Responses to “The Soul of the Matter: Get in there!”

  1. Emily Sewell says:

    You had such a beautiful day, Anna! Thanks for sharing the experience and the photos! One thing you left out, though. We need a picture of the hiking boots. Hee.

  2. Deborah Blake says:

    Wow. I love nature anyway, but this…wow. Thanks for sharing!

    • It really was the most amazing day. Especially the cool, misty rain that followed me all the way up the ridge. And that my husband was the one to say, “Go. Get away and find your wanter for a couple of days…”

      I’m a lucky girl!

  3. Melba says:

    Amazing pictures, makes me want to go hiking. Wish I were in shape to do it, but alas my back injury has pretty much grounded me. At least I can sit here and enjoy your photographs. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I’m not a god person but this still soothes my soul. Thanks for sharing. It reminds me of an experience I had years ago that I should try to get down on paper before the memory is gone completely.

    • Part of why I post my waterfall experiences is to capture the soul of each magical day, before I forget the amazing things I sense and feel and experience on these long, solitary hikes. I do this to get my head out of the rushing of every day, and into the slow, careful pace of seeing and feeling and experiencing every minute to its fullest.

      Like you say, Judy. You don’t have to be a god person, to stay in careful touch with the soul that feeds you ;o)

  5. robena grant says:

    Gorgeous. This reminded me of being in the Australian rainforest way up the top of Queensland. It was a couple of years ago when I was researching for a book I was writing. We slid and slipped on wet rocks and got filthy but it was something I’ll never forget. The deeper we went into the forest, following the fast flowing creek, the more it felt like we’d entered some magical world, and yet we were only a mile or two from the hotel.
    Memories like this are precious.

    • It is magic, Robena. Water is my connection to the divine I believe exists all around us. It’s my journey through this life, which is never more clear than when I take one of my waterfall adventures or spend the day listening to the ocean speaking its wisdom…

      You make me long for my Australian adventure. I’ll get there one day! The closest I’ve come so far, is visiting a couple of forests in the PNW, first on the islands around Seattle, and then in Vancouver.

      Sigh… Lovely!

  6. Awesome pics! Thanks for sharing them and your day.

  7. Thank you for sharing…awesome! :-)

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