Three years ago, when Addam and I first visited this fall, we were both astounded by the uniqueness of the falls and the lushness of the moss. Thick, green moss carpeted every inch of the area right around the creek. We explored the creek upstream, admired the falls from the overlook deck, and then made our way down over the cliffs to the bottom of the falls. It was difficult to get down, since I'm short and there's quite the little cliff to navigate. But I did it with Addam's help and encouragement. This became a very special place to us, since we saw it for the first time together, and since I conquered a few fears here with the descent over the cliff. And we had this awesome place all to ourselves that day.
The second time, we ran into a couple of other guys down at the falls below the main drop. Still mossy, still gorgeous.
On our third visit a few weeks ago, we were floored by how much the place had changed. The first thing we noticed immediately was that there were lots of people there already at the base of the falls. I was shocked, honestly, because it's not easy to get down there at all, at least not for me. On our way down, I realized that it likely hadn't been easy for everyone else who makes there way down there, either. There was now rope anchored to a rock at the top of the cliff. Despite the rope, this was, by far, my most difficult trip down to the falls. Due to the number of people who must have been slip-sliding down the rock wall since this place gained popularity, there was so much erosion of the earth around the rocks that my previous footholds had been destroyed. I just had to let myself drop this time, as my legs weren't long enough to reach the ground I was trying to land on. I don't remember having that problem before.
Then, there was the moss. Or, should I say, there wasn't. Much of the moss that had once carpeted the hillside was gone. Just gone. Mud is all that remained, with telltale footprints of people slipping down the hill. My stomach sank when I saw how much people have destroyed the hillside at this beautiful place.
I would never discourage anyone from visiting this amazing place, as photos really don't do it justice. But please, as you head out to these places this weekend and in the future, just watch your step. Truly try to leave no trace. I know it's just some moss and dirt, but it's part of the experience of being there, and I'm sad that people who go there now don't get to see that part. We need to stop being so focused and obsessed with what we're looking at through our lenses and remember that these are real, live landscapes that we are visiting.
Out of respect for the land, we have decided that this will be our last visit here for a long, long time. Hopefully, if people will just be mindful of what their feet are doing, this and other trampled places may begin to recover from the effects of their popularity.