A few weekends ago, on our way back from Sydney to Canberra, we stopped off at Fitzroy falls to see some nature.
In many ways, it reminded me of my childhood. We used to take lots of family trips around northern Michigan, and to the upper peninsula (The UP) to hike or see various different waterfalls, lighthouses, or coastline. We would load up the minivan, pack lunch, and head out on day trips. Sometimes my grandparents would even join us.
The chilled, earthy fall air would great us at the car park. Children piled out of the vehicle, tired from the long trip, but full of energy for the adventure ahead. The trees above our heads at the peak of color, boasting brilliant reds and yellows. Along with the occasional green and brown, the forest was afire with color.
After lunch had been consumed, and granola bars (chocolate chip if we were lucky) distributed, we would head off to the trail. Typically they were dirt trails, worn down from countless fellow wanderers keen on taking in the experience. There was the occasional paved path, but those were few and far between, as we are talking about the wilds of northern Michigan.
My younger brother, once he was old enough to walk the trail mostly on his own, would tear off ahead of the pack, always just around the next corner from the rest of us. In all fairness, I tended to do the same thing. It was all about the rush of wind through my hair, the excitement of seeing what was around the next bend, and to be the first to see the waterfall at the end.
Rocks were climbed, as well as the occasional tree. Sticks became swords and epic battles ensued. We went from being an unassuming family along the trail to ninjas on the assault, chasing each other down and engaging in swordplay, because that is what boys do.
Eventually we would reach the waterfall, lighthouse, cave, or whatever other sight we initially came to see. It was often impressive, beautiful, and supremely memorable. Even though we had already experienced the sights at the end of the trail, the hike back was just as much fun, because this time our swords had turned into lightsabers and we were Jedi.
Well, all of that is to say that there are a few things that I really like about hiking trips to see waterfalls:
- Family time - it's a great excuse to spend some time together, doing something physical, tangible.
- Exercise - everyone needs to get outside more... ok well maybe not everyone .
- Scenery - taking a moment to enjoy the beauty in this world is therapeutic and inspiring, plus look at that view!
- Waterfalls - there is just something about falling water that I really like.
Since we were in the neighborhood, we decided to stop by and see Fitzroy falls. They were impressive to say the least. Supposedly the falls were even more impressive in the past, and have since been dammed up river, but they were still really cool. The observation deck was also quite high up, so the view of the surrounding mountains as you look down the valley was amazing.
The first deck was nearly right on top of the falls, so it didn't provide the best view of them. We decided to brave the unpaved trails with our stroller to get to the next observation deck. I had to carry the stroller at a few points, and we even left it on the side of the trail (and hoped it would be there when we returned) in order to continue. It was worth it though, since the next few decks provided a more spectacular view of the falls.
Eventually our camera battery died, and we needed to leave in order to make it back to the hotel in time to get Evan to bed, so we bid farewell to the scenery. There are more waterfalls and nature trails in the area, so we hope to be able to make it back out that way before we head home. Either way, it was a great experience, and brought back fond memories of taking hikes with my family as a kid.
Hopefully I can find a way to pass those memories on to Evan as he grows. He won't remember this trip, and I didn't find any particularly sword-like sticks, but I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities in the future (when he can walk for himself... at least most of the time...). He will learn to watch his back though, because his dad has had years of experience in stick-sword fighting, and still knows a thing or two.