Monday, September 29, 2014

How to Find Waterfalls--Part Two

110 ft high Ozone Falls, TN

How to Find Waterfalls --Part Two
The Intermediate Waterfall Hunter

   Dana Koogler
Monday September 29, 2014

      You've gotten out and started hiking to waterfalls. You liked it at first and you are
beginning to like it a lot more.  You are interested in seeing waterfalls in other outlying areas.
Perhaps you're working on a goal of finishing all the waterfalls within a given National Park
or state park.   You're trying to see all those falls in that area. You are wondering what else
is in the vicinity?   Let's use the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a frame of reference
since that is my story.  Again, it can apply to any area.

        I lived in Virginia. I was only getting to travel to the Great Smoky Mountains at that time
two or three times per year.   I had been bitten by the hiking to waterfalls bug. What was I supposed
to do in the meanwhile?  I spent time consoling myself reading about waterfalls, daydreaming about them,
and talking to others about them when it was appropriate.   Did you know that all those things can actually help you find waterfalls?  Sure can.  You may not want to read further if you cannot cope with the
Misfit of Science Side of me.    You need to make use of  the reticular activating system of your brain
to help you find waterfalls.   Chances are you do it for other things and don't even know you're doing it.

Waterfall Seeking Tools--Laying the Foundation
         What? What is a reticular activating system? Where did I pick that up?  When?
What IS she talking about?  We live in an age of technology so I will compare this part of your brain
and subconcious mind to a technology that exists today.  Perhaps you have heard of computer programs
that run in the background of a primary system or program?  These background programs pick out key words or phrases and flag them and bring them to your attention.   The government uses these programs
with certain key words or phrases to supposedly root out terrorists.   You are not a computer, but you
have a big ole smart brain sitting up there in your noggin.   Unfortunately unless you are single, independently wealthy and free to devote all your time, energy and money to the hunt for waterfalls......... you have
something called a LIFE to attend to besides that.  Work. Family. Household duties. Those things
have to get done day to day for most of us.   

 Learn to turn on your Reticular Activating System in your brain, and it is your background program for hunting waterfalls. 

Learn to R2A2. That is the acronym  for helping you train your Reticular Activating System in your brain
and subconcious mind so you can work and take care of other business and still pick up on key things
that may not seen to matter much now, but may lead to something later!
This is the formula of a  successful man in many areas of life.. Mr. W. Clement Stone.

Recognize--That's for me--
Relate--How is that for me--how does this relate to my hunt for waterfalls to visit
If I am seeking waterfalls in the area to visit around me where does this info fit compared to where I am?
Assimilate--How am I going to use this to find waterfalls. Find ways to fit this info in with your plans.
Action ---Go check it out for yourself. Put feet on it. Put the plan into action. Form the habits
of daily life in your mind and body that will result in greater success.  

 Training your brain and subconcious mind to ignore some repetitive stimuli while reaching out
and grabbing others is huge in habit forming for your thought life.  You're already using it
when you can tune out traffic noise and catch a nap on the city bus, but if your alarm goes off
or your baby cries.. you wake right up!  

*Once you've told your brain what to look for. What you're interested in.. it will hunt it for you.

                               Other Source Materials for Waterfall Hunting

   Ok so now that I have bombarded you with some Science let's return to our waterfall hunter.
She's stuck in Virginia dealing with kids, job, home and only getting to visit the Smokies twice yearly.
Our hopeful seeker is not to be so easily outdone by things like geographic locations.   She is a
Positive Mental Attitude grad of the W. Clement Stone school of thought.   What now?
Daydreaming, talking to other people about waterfalls, and reading can really help me find waterfalls near me to visit?  Yep. It worked for me.  Another key concept that has guided me is this:
Do not be one of those people who never avails themself of the beauty 
and opportunities right around them!

  I cannot get down to visit the Smokies again until October.  What is around me to see 
in August? Are there waterfalls to visit around here?

That is when Reading---waterfall or hiking guidebooks comes in handy

Daydreaming... surfing the internet and looking at pictures. Doing searches.

Talking to others---"Oh you like waterfalls?! There is a nice one on Uncle Lyle's farm. We should go there sometime!"   Comes in VERY handy!

Read Guidebooks: 

Every time you're in a state park, national park or visitor center.. take a look at them.
Pick you up a good one.  Read it.   You don't have to read it cover to cover.
Look for the obvious ones that are specific to waterfalls first. Above is a fine example.
Kevin Adam's Waterfalls of Virginia and West Virginia.  

Read other guidebooks about a given area.  These you'll have to read more carefully because
they do not focus on waterfalls.  The Little Brown Hiking Guide to the Smokies is another great
resource but you will have to HUNT for the mention of waterfalls in the trail narratives,  then try to hike the trails to find them. Virginia has similar hiking guides for state parks and natural areas, but again
you will have to read the trail narratives to find where they describe waterfalls along the trail because the focus is not solely on waterfalls. It is on hiking in general. 

Daydreaming--Surfing the Internet 

    Daydreaming and surfing the internet and doing searches started off for me as a coping mechanism
and a fun distraction.  It was not long until I found out two things: 1. I was good at it. and 2.  It was a useful
and powerful tool.

Surfing  the internet today is in many ways a much more powerful force than it was way back in the early days of
cyberspace.   Today it also crosses over into the "Talk to other people" area I mentioned because of
social media and networking.  I'll address that under the talk to other people section for the sake of
keeping my thoughts organized.

Internet Searches: --They can yield you some surprisingly helpful finds.  They can also yield you some obscurities.  I suggest you hang on to the majority of the information you run across that could even be remotely pertinent.  Keep it in a favorites, bookmarks, print it off, copy it down in a notebook until
you are certain it is not helpful.   Even some obscurities have turned out to be a key for me years later.

Back to the problem at hand. Our little waterfall seeker is stuck in Virginia. She's hunting for nearby
waterfalls to visit until she can get down to see the Smokies again and work on her goal of hiking all the
guidebook waterfalls.

She can do a web search!  Try starting off with "Waterfalls AND Virginia"

Here is something you might turn up in such a web search: Virginia Waterfalls

You may even find databases of waterfalls in your state or area!

People's blogs may share ideas about waterfalls in your state or area.
Sometimes they have directions included. Sometimes they do not.

Finding out a waterfall exists is key.  Once you know it exists and that it is in your area,
you can refine your search.  Narrow the focus to the county, the specific name of the falls,
the person who wrote the blog and come up with directions how to access it. 

Talk to Others--Networking--

Back when I began seeking waterfalls to visit the internet was not like it is today.
It was not as easy to network with others on the internet in any meaningful, organized way.
Not impossible.. just not as good as now.  Facebook and Social media sites have been a big
improvement in making contact with those people with similar interests.  It promotes a free flow
of information and ideas that is revolutionizing the way we do things!

Facebook is often organized into online communities or groups that focus on
the very thing you're looking for.  Waterfalls, hiking destinations etc.

Try social media for networking with others.
 It has made a big impact on my waterfall hunting.  

Don't neglect actually TALKING TO OTHER PEOPLE about it.

Let people know you're interested in area waterfalls and that you'd appreciate information
how to visit them?!  Better yet.. make friends with similar interests and go together.
Two heads are always better than one.  You will do more than find waterfalls. You'll have adventures
and form lasting memories and bonds that will last a life time!

 Visiting a Waterfall in Your Area--Putting Feet on the Plan of Action

 Let's go back to our brave waterfall seeker and find out what she's going to do to solve her dilemma?
She has read guidebooks. She has done a search on the internet.  She has talked to her husband about
wanting to go visit waterfalls nearby until they can get back down to the Smoky Mountains.
What will come of all this?

The guidebook mentions several.  There are some out near Churchville about 25 miles away.
It says they are pretty, but its better to wait until we've had a lot of rain. We haven't had a lot of rain.

The web search turned up waterfalls in the state. The nearest one on that website is Crabtree Falls which is
25 miles away.    It also mentions some that are 60-100 miles away.    Fallingwater Falls and Roaring Run
could  both be done in a day trip to Alleghany County.

Talking to others--turns out to be the ticket this time.   In a conversation about waterfalls with her spouse
he mentions that Uncle Lyle and Aunt Dot Koogler  have a waterfall on their farm. It is 15 miles away.
It is private property, but they have always let people go down there. He suggests she give Aunt Dot a call.
She does and Aunt Dot is tickled pink. They go visit her and Uncle Lyle and take the kids, the cousins, and
take along backpacks and swim suits and towels.  They spend the day hiking, exploring, swimming and visiting with family at Cypress Falls on the family farm.   It has been here all along and she is 37 years old
and is just now hearing about it.

 Cypress Falls is a 120 foot drop located in Fairfield, Virginia on private property.
This is only one of three drops to this falls.  Here is a link to the trip report about this
area. Cypress Falls Trip Report

          Success! She found a waterfall. Not just A waterfall. THREE waterfalls!
And a beautiful area.  It was a memorable trip. It was a family experience the very first time.

Take aways here? TALK TO PEOPLE... even your own family!
You may be missing something important and beautiful.

Let's revisit the problem with assumptions:

Don't assume because a person has not told you about a waterfall that it doesn't exist.
Don't assume because you have visited a given area that you have seen all that is there.
Don't assume because you have driven down a road by the creek before many times..
that there is nothing worth seeing in that creek.

DO talk to people and network with people and let them know you're interested in waterfalls.
DO check above and below waterfalls  you're visiting to see if there are more.
DO drive the roads and keep an eye out if you are the passenger for places where a stream drops steeply by a road.

Examples:  Finding and visiting Cypress Falls which had been in Kenny's family for decades.
I had been married to him for 14 years or so when I finally went to see this place! It would not have happened unless I TALKED to him or someone in his family to let me know of it.

I visited Bald River Falls. a road side attraction several times before realizing there was an upper falls.

 Upper Bald River Falls .. There are several. This one is named Suislide! Would not have gotten to experience it  unless we hiked above it to see! 

I had driven by Moffatts Creek behind our farm many times and must have had my head up my rear end,
because I missed this for years!

Moffatts Creek Cascade sits at the site of an old grist mill.  It was behind my home all the time.
About a mile drive on the road. About a mile hike across the farm and down the bluff.

Avail yourself of the beauty and wonder that area around you. You will be pleasantly surprised. 

Part three of this blog series will be for the Advanced Waterfall Seeker


  1. Awesome post, Dana. I enjoyed hearing about the family connection and it might just spur me on to get off my butt and check around in my backyard as well.

    1. Thanks SmokyCyn. I could not believe I had not learned of a waterfall or set of waterfalls on family land nearby in greater than a decade of being married in. It goes to show how none of us are mind readers and folks cannot tell ya what they know if ya don't ask! There is at least one more in the vicinity and possibly two that I have not visited.


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