~ William Blake
We spent more time climbing over boulders the size of small elephants, taking pictures and “drinking it in with our spirit.” Then we turned around and climbed back up and made our way to the trail.
The trees in Swallow Falls Park are royalty. The majority are hemlock and white pine and most are over three hundred years old. The branches of the hemlock resemble lace ~ feathery and delicate. Touching the trunk of one such hemlock, I closed my eyes and was instantly standing in a virgin forest on the brink of discovery, the sound of both pioneer and moccasined feet approaching in the distance. I opened them again and almost wept in disappointment over being stuck in the twenty-first century.
I enjoy the convenience of hot showers, electricity and the ability to speak to loved ones miles away in an instance. But modern man is lacking. He has lost touch with his soul and a sense of the Divine. With that goes his respect for the beauty of creation and the duty to preserve it for the next generation. Thankfully, no all are lost and so we have state and national parks, which are preserved from the plundering of fool and knaves.
The sheer magnitude of the boulders jutting out over the trail continued to astound me. Some appeared to balance by an invisible thread, while others looked like giants had played a game of dominos. They exuded an unearthly quality. I was reminded of the standing stones of Avebury. Oh, to step into the Tardis and be there when they first broke off and fell to their current, moss-covered resting places!
We had not gone more than a few paces, when we veered off the trail again ~ this time to make our way over the rocky giants in the middle of the Youghigheny River. While Ames, Aurelius and Jeanette alternately skipped stones and threw basketball-sized rocks into the river, Marly and I lay on a flat rock smack dab in the middle and watched tiny whirlpools form and disintegrate around us. The science of it eluded us, but we remained there transfixed, laughing like children as we stuck our hands into the miniature vortex.
Everywhere, besides the rhododendrons, were mounds of lush green moss. It was detailed and felt rather stiff, unlike other types of moss I have encountered. It looked almost like a pine tree branch in miniature. The feeling of timelessness continued to envelope me as we hiked up the Youghigheny River. I wanted nothing more than to stay alongside her banks, exploring every nook and cranny. But around about then, yours truly began wishing she had packed at least one protein bar.
I was not a Brownie/Girl Scout long enough to learn the mantra of always “be prepared.” We had enjoyed a substantial lunch (Marly prepared her famous stuffed sandwiches) and had not thought I would be hungry again. But none of us had counted on being enmeshed in the beauty of our surroundings to the extent that it was now fast approaching supper time. However, I had not come all this way to let a little hypo-ness cut short our hike. There were still more falls to see. So on we trekked.
Swallow Falls was a little less exciting than Muddy Creek ~ but I will allow that I was really hungry by then and although I had voted to complete the rest of the loop, I no longer lingered. The amount of more scantily clad people doing belly-flops may have also had something to do with my reluctance to linger and gaze at the falls. There is a place for everything, including belly-flops. But here in this magnificent place, it just seemed just a little. . .crass.
And then we arrived at the last set of falls ~ Tolliver Falls. When we started at Muddy Creek, and I found out that they were tallest falls in Maryland, I wished we had began the trail from the other end ~ so as to build up to seeing the more majestic falls. But somehow, coming up Tolliver Falls at the end was the perfect ending. There was no one else around; the falls were tiny and the pool tranquil. I plucked a rhododendron leaf and placed it in the pool as an offering to Titania or perhaps the descendants of Galadriel. Adding to the air of mystery, was the distinct sound of music. It seemed to come from both far away and somewhere deep within the earth. We stood mesmerized and curious as we watched the water spill over ancient rocks and decaying logs, the spaces between giving back melodic sounds. Who was it that said music is the space between the notes??
Three days is just not enough time to take all the beauty that Garrett County has to offer and we are already planning a return trip either in the Fall [the colour there must be eye-popping] or in February [which is their busy season]. I cannot wait.
Titania and Galadriel and their subjects are waiting for me.
Oremus pro invicem,