This past weekend I drove up to Michigan for two reasons: 1 – to celebrate my parent’s 60th wedding anniversary with our whole family and 2 – to pick up my kids. My daughter has been with them for 2 weeks and my son for 1. Because it is a long drive, I like to break up the trip going there. So I headed out Friday afternoon and had plans to meet a friend.
Our original intent was to hiking to a couple of waterfalls. She lives right next to Cuyahoga Valley National Park and I had found a couple of short hikes. While I was driving, though, it stormed. Bad. I drove through multiple downpours where I could barely see. We changed plans and decided to go to dinner.
Thankfully, by the time dinner was done, the sun was more or less shining and she suggested we try for at least one waterfall. We grabbed my camera equipment from the hotel and drove the whole 6-7 mins to the trailhead. We chose Blue Hen Falls for our waterfall. It was already 8:00 pm so we didn’t have a lot of time. We drove down the small drive to the parking lot and hopped out for the 1/6th of a mile walk. The trail, while, short, was so pretty. And then it opened up and there were the falls.
We were both wowed by their beauty. While I was taking photos, the sky turned a beautiful pink color (in fact, you can tell in my photos – everything had a pink glow). I wish the pink sky could have come through in the photos because it was so pretty.
I didn’t even need to attach a filter to my camera. In fact, it was almost too dark. I was able to shoot for 10 seconds or more for my shots which was really nice. Thanks to the thunderstorms that moved through earlier, there was just enough water for a pretty shot but not so much that I had to get wet for the close ups. My friend mentioned there had hardly been any rain lately so the creek bed was very low.
I really didn’t want to leave. I could imagine getting there very early in the morning and having beautiful light. Alas, I will have to save that for another time. We didn’t have flashlights or anything so we returned to our cars. I was so happy to have that time with my friend and be able to visit a beautiful waterfall. If you’d like to visit Blue Hen Falls I would recommend visiting this link on The Outbound. They have the parking area marked. This waterfall is approximately 10 mins from the Ohio Turnpike so if you are traveling along that route, you could visit the falls, have lunch there, and then continue on your way. It wouldn’t take any time at all.
Our original plans for spring break were to stay in our cool cabin for two nights and then head to Claytor Lake State Park for two nights. I was excited to try a new Virginia State Park – especially for the sunset possibilities. As we were coming off of the mountains at Grayson I received a phone call. I didn’t know the number so I figured they would leave me a message if it was important. When I reached the bottom of the trail I checked the message with the little bit of signal I had left: Claytor Lake had canceled our reservations because the whole park lost power. It would not be restored for days. Heartbreak. I think they lost power due to the snow storm.
So I figured we’d just drive into town, find WiFi, and I’d figure something out. I wasn’t sure what… well, “town” was much farther than I anticipated so I drove back to Grayson where I knew I had some signal. I called VA State Parks and we settled on Hungry Mother State Park – a place we stayed at two years ago. My son was thrilled because he knew that meant a fire in the fireplace… aka… s’mores. And it was close. But what would we do? My hikes were planned for around Claytor. I researched the awesome Outbound and found some waterfalls. I reached out to an Instagram buddy and he confirmed a location and gave me more tips about it. Perfect.
That location was Bush Creek Falls in West Virginia. The drive was approximately 1.5 hrs from Hungry Mother. I chose to drive on the back roads instead of hitting I-81. Anyone from Virginia knows you avoid I-81 at all costs! The rural country was beautiful. I stopped to take a few photos (will do a write-up on them later) along the way and on the way back. Eventually, we reached the falls.
Due to the melting snow the water was incredibly high. The falls sounded loud and powerful. It was a sight to see. The hike to Bush Creek is only half a mile at the most. I got very excited to shoot the waterfall until I picked up my camera and realized my nub was missing. I’m sure the “nub” has a more official name but basically it is the connector that fits into my tripod. It’s rather important for waterfall photography. I instantly got upset. I thought, “All the driving, time, and now I can’t take photos.” I turned and saw that my son was upset. He said, “So we’re only here for photos?” Thanks, babe. I needed that because I realized, photos or not, I was there for him.
Thankfully, with my smaller 18-55 mm lens, my camera actually balances perfectly. I could set it on the tripod and it would say there. Of course, I couldn’t get too many good angles it forced me to be creative. In the end, I’m glad for it. The shots I got while resting the camera on a rock/log actually are some of my favorites – perhaps of any waterfall shots I’ve ever shot. There weren’t a lot of places to stand next to the creek since the water was so high so we didn’t spend a lot of time there. My Instagram pal had said to continue down the trail. So we did and it was an adventure.
There were little, mini waterfalls flowing down the side of the mountain (?) to our right and then down to the creek. We had to be creative with our crossings until, eventually, one was too deep and we had to just walk through it. As I stood trying to figure out how to take photos of these mini waterfalls my son declared, “That’s it. We can’t go any further.” There were a group of trees down across the trail. I surveyed it and knew we could get through it. One of my goals for the trip was to show my son that just because something requires effort doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing (like homework). This was perfect. I found a way through for us and tried to explain this to him. Maybe he’ll remember it in the future.
Finally, we got to White Oak Falls. They were magnificent. It was a tiered waterfall with huge boulders. I again had to be creative with my shots. I tried a few things. And while I would have preferred having my wide angle lens on my camera, I think I ended up with a couple of photos that show how cool the falls were. I had to stand right in the water for quite a while to get them. Worth it.
We meandered back to the car. My feet were soaked and I was anxious to get back and shower. I felt good about the day. I hope it is an adventure my son remembers since we had to walk through water, cross trees, and explore a waterfall. If you’d like to have specific information on how to find both sets of falls, please refer to my post on The Outbound. If you haven’t yet joined The Outbound, please use my invitation link.
I have to confess. I don’t write about every single hike here on this blog. Sometimes, I write them on a site called The Outbound. The Outbound is my number one place to go when I want to hike. It allows me to search a location and see what’s available. Once in awhile I will post here and there because an Adventure on The Outbound is most just facts. Here, I can elaborate a bit more and add my flourishes and emotions.
I want to encourage everyone to join The Outbound. It is completely free and you’ll find great places to explore. People also share tips for hiking, exploring, and taking photos. You will not be disappointed. Are you into Trail Running? That’s there too.
This spring when my son and I embark upon our spring break trip, I will have fully explored the site so I can plan exactly where we want to go. Additionally, I research what isn’t there so I can share my own Adventures when I return.
Once you sign up, follow me! You will then have full access to all of my hiking adventures. Thankfully, I hike enough to post in both places (plus I share my Spartan Training and other life adventures here).