I love waterfalls. I always have. There’s something about the power of the water dropping through space, unimpeded by anything but perhaps a few rocks and then the pool at the bottom. So when I was presented with the opportunity to visit Linville Falls while driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway Tuesday, I had to take advantage.
I love the St. Johns River. But it is a slow, meandering waterway that make its way lazily from the marshes of central Florida to the sea. Along the way, it supports everything from tiny shrimp to enormous ocean liners, and everything in between. The St. Johns is a magnificent river.
The Linville River fairly rushes to the falls. It is a mountain stream, after all, and it swiftly makes its way, carving its way through the granite streambed. There are places along the path where you can see where the water has worn away the stone. You can see the rocks on the bottom of the river, worn smooth and round by the clear, cold, constantly rushing water. and then, in an instant, it vanishes over the edge of the falls,
From the upper basin, the water from the river drops 90 feet into the lower gorge. It falls through a chimney to a second ledge, and then out into what’s called the plunge basin. It is a spectacular view that’s well worth the mile-and-a-half hike to the overlook and back. Even if you have to do it twice … the second time looking for a lost pair of sunglasses.
We never found them.
From the falls, the river continues its journey through Linville Gorge … and on to Lake James. It’s considered a world-class whitewater canoeing and rafting river, with several class 4 and 5 rapids.
We spent the better part of the day, walking along the well-kept trails, taking pictures, enjoying the weather and the nature and even some of the other people. A German family that was surprised when I greeted them in my high school German. We took pictures of some of the people, and just played tourist. We didn’t leave the park until nearly 3:00 … with an 8 hour drive to go.
Still, it was worth every minute, and the drive home was a blast. Down US 221 through a bunch of North Carolina, top down, MP3 player plugged in and cranking. We stopped for a very late lunch in a little town who’s name I can’t recall at a place called “Legal Grounds”. It’s a combination coffee house/pizza place/neighborhood bar. Even on the Interstate, the temperature stayed cool enough that we could drive all the way home topless. It was a special pleasure in the evening under the stars.
I love to travel, and I love to come home, even if it means going back to work. I know there’s always a next time, and I’ll be ready.