15 July 2009

The Bear Went Over the Mountain: Part Two

The bigger stones give it character. The rock is what makes this waterfall.
~ Paul Collins

he whole reason we ended up in Deep Creek Lake to begin with was because a few years ago I came across a magazine article about the waterfalls in Garrett County. I had long since forgotten the magazine and the county name, but I knew it was somewhere in the far western part of Maryland. Thank goodness for Google!

So, now the love story [I told you I fell in love with a park]. Friday, we lazed around quite a bit (after a couple of us got our morning jogs and planks in) and then headed off to Swallow Falls State Park.

I love waterfalls. Granted, I have not seen many of them to date, but I certainly love the idea of them. There is something timeless, powerful and romantic ~ in the Byronic sense, not the tingly-luhv sense ~ about waterfalls that has always fascinated me. And now I was going to experience them up close and personal.

The map said that the trail began just past Muddy Creek Falls, so we headed in that direction. The Muddy Creek Falls are the tallest (measuring fifty-three feet) in the state of Maryland. It is the most incredible feeling, to stand on top of the falls, no more than a few feet from the edge and look down into the spray of icy cold whiteness as it pounds the rocks below. No fences. No guardrails. Just nature ~ unbound and unveiled. There is nothing lovelier.

Garrett County receives more snow fall than Fairbanks, Alaska, so I can only imagine Muddy Creek turns into a roaring Mr. Hyde of itself when the snow melts. When we were there, however, we saw only little pools etched into the smooth, flat stone at the top that told us the water level is usually much higher. I do not know how long our party stayed on top of Muddy Creek ~ time seemed to be in slow motion and there was just you, and the Falls and the moss-covered banks and an endless sapphire-blue sky. All I can say is God is an amazing artist and I gave myself over to embracing this particular canvas.

My fellow travelers and I took our shoes and socks off and stepped into water. Whew! Ice. Cold. And I mean ice. It felt wonderful. What struck me most was the power. You know the old cliché: still waters run deep. Well, these waters were not still. And where I was standing, it was not very deep. But the immense power of the current whipped my breath away. If it were deeper, it would have swept me along and over the edge. But even so, I felt profound respect and caution for the invisible power coursing over my ankles.

I did not want to leave; if we had spent our entire weekend just at the top of Muddy Creek Falls, I would have been content. (If I ever get married, I want to honeymoon there; yes, it is THAT awesome.) However, there was still a mile of trail to hike and three more falls to see, so we made our way down to the bottom of Muddy Creek. And promptly took a detour.

The bottom of the Falls is difficult to describe. I suppose it is technically part of the river bed. But it is completely made up of huge boulders. The Falls end in a small but deep pool surrounded by medium to large rocks. Several local teenagers use it as their watering hole ~ several, rather scantily clad ones were diving off the bottom-most rock shelf of the falls. It was the only blot on the landscape while we were there.

We made our way carefully over the boulders and down towards the very bottom of the river, where it forked and joined the Youghigeny River. The entire left bank of the river was covered with rhododendrons. I had never seen so many rhoadies in one spot and I certainly did not know they grew wild. You can take the Bahamas and any number of resorts: this is Paradise.

To be continued. . . . .

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
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