Friday, October 8, 2010

In March of 1993, my first husband moved out, and other journeys, new journeys started all over again, as if there hadn’t been a ten year interruption. The quest to photograph all of the waterfalls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula began.

As Pat and I were driving north on Hwy 41, just past Bruce Crossing, a sign jumped out at us. O Kun De Kun Falls. We looked at each other only for a second, before Pat braked for the turnoff.

The yellow and brown wooden sign in the parking lot pointed towards the trailhead and announced that the hike to the falls was 1.3 miles. Again we nodded to each other, agreeing silently.

The trail wound through a swamp for a bit before coming out into a clearing of tall grass. The sun beat down on us. The cool July morning had turned into a warm early afternoon. As we entered the forest again it first dawned on us that this might be a longer walk than we had prepared for. It was so worth it though, when we after a few more minutes, we could hear the distinct sound of water tumbling over rocks.

The first waterfall we encountered was short and bland.

“Is that it, do you suppose?” I asked.

Pat shrugged. “It is still neat, even if it isn’t very big.”

The trail hadn’t ended yet so we tromped on. Down a short hill and through a ravine where the trail had washed out, we could hear the sound of water rushing.

We scrambled along the path and burst out of the pine trees at the river’s edge, just at the top of the waterfall. A series of several short falls ended in a plummet to the Baltimore River some 20 feet below.

We had made it and it was worth it, even though we were starting to swelter in our jeans.

“Hey, there’s nobody I around.” I told Pat as I stripped off my pants.

“Look,” Pat pointed, after she had laid down her freshly shed jeans. “There is a ledge that goes all the way behind the falls.”

“That would be such a cool photo-op.” I had purchased just about all the fascinating equipment which I could for my SLR camera, so everything I saw I turned into a photo opportunity in my head.

“I’ll hand you your camera after you crawl back there.” I had a flashback to a similar conversation many years before. Dad had brought home this huge safe, and Pat bet that I could fit in it. Why did I always do the dumb stuff she suggested?

So, of course, I crawled behind the waterfall on a slimy eight-inch sheet of rock. Just as I was in position and about to reach for my camera, my foot slipped. I have no idea how I hang on but somehow I did. The picture I snapped from behind the falls wasn’t really worth it. And the shot Pat took of me is not going to be published here or elsewhere, because – remember? – I was in my underwear.

At the trailhead of the falls. Note that we did find shorts to put on.

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