Why waterfalls? I’ve seen a couple of friends on Facebook refer to their own pursuits of waterfalls this year and I wonder if the pandemic makes the chase all the more appealing. Waterfalls are notable for constantly changing while remaining the same, which is a concept I first read about on this blog post by Vaughan Hoy. It makes sense to me that in times of great uncertainty we would be drawn to something stable but in motion.
The next waterfall I found was the most difficult. I was in Independence, OH, to pick up items from an online estate auction, and I decided to stop by Lock 39 of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath. I thought I would only walk a half mile or so down the path and then turn around, but at the turning point I saw a map for the Hemlock Creek Trail and stopped to look at it. Of course the word “falls” caught my eye and I barely noticed how far it was to get there before setting off.
The trail has several bridges, the first of which is the longest and crosses the Cuyahoga River. As I walked, the grade became steep and I wondered if I should turn around (I did not have water or snacks with me). But there were markers every 1/10 of a mile and that made it feel easier to keep going. When I reached the spot where I thought the waterfall should be, there was a bridge, but no sign or any indication of falls, just the sound of rushing water. I kept walking, but hesitantly, because I was tired and did not know exactly where I was on the trail. I found a bench to rest on and tried looking up a map on my phone, only to learn that this trail was new as of September 2019 and thus not well-documented online.
I walked back to the previous bridge feeling more certain that this must be where the waterfall was, and I noticed that there was an open area to walk into the woods and get down to the creek. I carefully made my way down, and then up an embarkment, and lo and behold, there was the waterfall, directly under the bridge!
If I were the city of Independence, I would improve this part of the trail to include a marked path to a viewing platform where people could see the waterfall. Otherwise, what’s the point of noting it on the map?
All told, I walked nearly 4 miles that day and ended it with a stop at Arthur Treacher’s for fried clam strips and hush puppies as a treat.