The sheer volume of noise we are bombarded with each day almost numbs our sense of sound, and it’s not until we experience the utter peace and quiet of nature that our sense of hearing is free to experience the subtle noises that are drowned out in our normal daily lives.
Some of my favorite sounds on the trail are the wind whispering through the evergreens and rustling through fall leaves, the birds calling to each other, and squirrels gnawing their way through acorns. But no other sound in nature grabs my attention more than the sound of water. And, when it comes to the many sounds of water in nature, the roar of a waterfall pulls at me like no other.
All images: Rich VanAntwerp
Recently I was hiking and realized winter has undeniably arrived. The leaves have all dropped from their branches and the trail was now covered in a mix of frozen slushy ice and fresh fallen snow. Other than the sound of my boot meeting the trail it was the quietest hike I’ve been on in months.
The stillness and quiet of that hike led me to begin reflecting back on my hikes over the past year. As I sorted through the range of my adventures a common theme emerged: waterfalls. They dominated many of my favorite treks in 2015. In no other year, did I have the opportunity to witness so many amazing waterfalls as I have this year.
While the site of a waterfall is awe inspiring, to me the real sensation of a waterfall is hearing the roar of ragging water as it launches itself from a cliff high above and crashes down on the rocks below.
It starts with a faint rumble, and as I follow the sound down the trail the volume increases and my anticipation grows. My pace quickens so does my level of excitement as I imagine what lies ahead. When I finally round the bend or crest the hill to finally catch the first glimpse of the waterfall I immediately stop in my tracks and just watch in amazement as I let al my senses take in the grandeur of the waterfall.
Some of my favorite waterfalls I encountered on my hikes this year include the following:
· Nevada and Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park
· Waimoku Falls from the Pipiwai Trail in Haleakal National Park in Maui
· Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park in Oregon which of course passes ten falls of which South Falls, Lower South Falls, Middle North Falls, North Falls were my favorite.
One thing is for sure when you come across a waterfall on the trail. The mist and spray of the crashing water will likely result in some wet or slippery footing. That’s another reason I’m thankful to be wearing my Oboz boots or hiking shoes. For wet and slippery conditions I prefer my Oboz Yellowstones or Switchbacks, which both have rugged outsoles with grippy lugs that give me the confidence and security underfoot that I need.
The next time you are out on the trail focus on your heightened sense of hearing. Listen to all the sounds of nature that you don’t normally hear in your day-to-day lives. Let the sounds draw you in, follow their lead and you just might be led to your own amazing waterfall.
Rich is retired fund raising executive based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Summit County, Colorado. He’s now a full-time hiker, skier, and snowshoer working his way through his “bucket list” of adventures.