I love to hike in the mountains and anytime I can experience a waterfall, makes it that much better.
There is something magical about seeing and hearing water fall from great heights. It brings about an excitement - a spiritual refreshment, if you will. But much like a double-edged sword, with the beauty, also comes the danger. I hate the tragedy that sometimes results from getting too close and taunting the beauty.
Many a beautiful waterfall have enticed novice and experienced hikers alike, to venture up along the beaten path or to blaze a trail to the top to peer over the edge to see how it all begins...the start of the water falling. The risk is great - no matter the expertise or the number of times luck was on your side -- and can be deadly.
Recently I heard about yet another waterfall accident, where not one, but two people were killed -- one was the victim, and the other, a rescuer. It weighed heavy on my heart for the family and friends --so sad.
Over my 50 years, I have heard many tales of people dying due to falling from waterfalls.
For starters, my mom shared a story of one of her high school classmates who lost their life at a waterfall. While on a church trip, two young girls made the decision to sit at the edge at the top of a waterfall, and due to slick moss covering the rocks, both slid down the falls. One girl suffered a broken leg, the other a fatal head injury.
Some deaths are purely accidental - not aware of surroundings, unfamiliar territory, or distracted hiking
Top 5 behavior recommendations when around a waterfall:
1) Obey warning signs - they are in place for a reason.
2) Avoid cliff driving or jumping from the top of a waterfall into the waters below. Not only is it dangerous and illegal, there could be shallow parts or rocks not visible. Possible injuries could be broken legs, arms, backs, or worse.
3) Avoid hiking or walking in streams that feed into waterfalls. Lose your footing and you may jeopardize your life.
4) Avoid stepping on the rocks around or in a waterfall. They may be covered with wet moss, and can be extremely slippery and cause injury.
5) Be mindful of your surroundings and others hiking with you. Educate others about the dangers of waterfalls, and practice waterfall safety.
Share with others the dangers of the beautiful waterfall. Respect the falls from the base and look upward. There is no need to climb to the top and peer over the edge to experience the power and beauty. Leave that for the birds.
Practice Safety First
As a hiker, I've seen many waterfalls and people not practicing good judgement around them. The only suggestion I offer is to share the top 5 recommendations listed above with those putting themselves (and others) in harms way. If they do not listen, then reach out to a park ranger or higher form of authority. Hopefully, by doing so, you will have saved a life or two.
(Pictures courtesy of www.alleneasler.com)