Seated on the floor of a bookstore with our heads tilted right, my sister and I perused titles on North Carolina’s history, hoping to find adventure! As if the book screamed, “Take me,” I reached for North Carolina’s Waterfalls, a Hiking and Photography Guide by Kevin Adams. As the title suggests, the book offered a detailed description of each waterfall, providing information about accessibility, level of difficulty, distance, beauty rating, and a listing of nearby waterfalls. With the destination clear, we decided to go to the “land of waterfalls,” Brevard County, which surrounds two national forests, two state parks, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. One day in 1998, we packed snacks, a case of water, our guide book, camera, film, and an overnight bag in a Toyota Tercel.
Life before navigational devices enforced a different type of relationship. Rand McNally, the battered atlas, has taken us there and back again several times. It requires a visual faith to follow the road with a finger and pinpoint the destination. Finding a waterfall needs a similar blind trust. Not all pathways have large and clear signs with labels and arrows. Sometimes, it takes pulling off to the side of the road, rolling down a window, and listening. Following the increasing sounds of rushing water may be the only beacon leading you forward!
A Walk in Nature
Forest therapy coupled with the sound of water is one of the most effective antidotes for our modern, technology-driven lifestyles. The scents and smells of a woodland area are scientifically proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and promote feelings of serenity. One day walking in nature, spending time away from a screen, has positive effects. Imagine walking in a lush, evergreen forest of hemlocks and rhododendrons, it seeming like a memory in time. You’ll often ask yourself, “How do I know this location?” If you’re a fan of the movie Last of the Mohicans, of course, you know the area as a filming site.
Striking Down Subdividing Land
Within Transylvania County, a war for land began when a manufacturing company sold its facility and surrounding property. Across years and new owners, in order to foster land development to improve roads and construct a covered bridge, a grass-roots group called “Friends of the Falls” and the Governor of North Carolina invoked eminent domain. The land, comprising 2,700 acres, and named “DuPont State Forest,” became a popular attraction due to its 100 designated trails and six waterfalls. Despite its classification as a state forest, Dupont has an opportunity for every visitor, especially those seeking lower temperatures and drops of cascading water.
Soaked to the skin due to an unsuspecting rain shower, I recall eating a sandwich outdoors, feeling rejuvenated, not exhausted. How many miles did we walk, anticipating the next waterfall on the list? When the mind is in a state of contentment, do you say, “Let’s see one more, or two,” or, “Let’s stop and return home?” Kevin Adams guides a reader through no less than 32 counties in the state. You’ll discover new places to visit, luring you on due to the number of falls in the region. Perhaps the next adventure will lead sisters, a couple, or family to Lake Toxaway, Grandfather Mountain, The Highlands, or Shining Rock, which have high visitor numbers. Not just as a weekend getaway, but tracking falls, learning the state’s history, and bonding with loved ones can become more than a way of life.
My copy of North Carolina Waterfalls does not have numerous post-it notes denoting comments and memorable moments. Rather than remaining on the bookshelf, calling “pick me” again, it will remain in my vehicle for those spontaneous moments when we decide to pack a few items and hit the road traveling west. Summer or fall, absorbing the cooler temperatures in higher altitude under a canopy of trees, the forest lacks the sounds of human voices. The journey awaits you! Buy a guide book and consider taking a well-needed adventure with Kevin Adams and Rand McNally leading the way! The lack of technology will be a blessing where the road ends and foot travel begins!