The day after Christmas, I went hiking with one of my dearest friends ever, Nancy and her family. If you recall, Nancy and I were supposed to spend Thanksgiving weekend together, but she got sick, so this trip was to make up for that. To be honest, even if we had just seen each other over Thanksgiving, we would have at least met up for tea over Christmas before Nancy went back to school. After family Christmas festivities died down, Nancy and I excitedly made plans to meet up the next morning so I could catch a ride to the trail with Nancy’s family.
The night before, I picked out my clothes and packed my bag; the next morning I pretty much just rolled out of bed. Tyler wasn’t too happy about about the early morning drop off, but we got Chickfila biscuits for breakfast, which made up for it. I was still stuffing my face when Nancy walked over to our car. After a bit of gear shuffling, I settled into the van with Nancy’s family. Then, we began the hour-or-so long drive to the trailhead.
Trails have a way of feeling like home and visiting an old friend. Hiking this trail brought back memories of the last time I had hiked at Raven Cliff Falls. It was about three years ago. I was still at Berry and was visiting Tyler for the weekend. He lived in a teeny-tiny house with three of his friends. I distinctly recall getting out of the shower around lunchtime, only to find out that Tyler, Ian, and Brooks had decided to go hiking, rendering my shower moot. But I wasn’t bothered, because I love hiking and always jump at the chance to go!
It’s funny how you build a map of memories around specific points along the trail. The first time I hiked at Raven Cliff Falls, I remember stopping at an exposed rock face where the boys climbed around for a bit. This time, I remember Nancy and I singing a silly call and response song as we passed by the same exposed rock.
The majority of the trail follows Dodd creek upstream. Georgia received a ton of rain right before Christmas, so the creek was gushing and rushing, much more than on my last visit. In the beginning Nancy and I hiked with her Dad, who always asks me about my studies. Nancy teases him about asking so many questions, but I enjoy it. It’s not often that someone asks me about my research and is genuinely interested. He listens carefully and asks me follow-up questions. Usually I get the “uh, sounds complicated” response, so it’s nice when someone actually wants to know more.
Around lunchtime, we reaches Raven Cliff Falls. The falls crash between two tall sections of rock and create a small pool below.
Nancy and I frolicked about for a bit, taking pictures and waiting for the rest of her family to catch up. We ate our lunch at the base of the falls, but we had to be careful where we sat or we’d end up getting wet! The last stretch of the trail is very steep and with all the rain we had, water was following the path of least resistance down the trail. Everywhere you looked, little rivulets of water cascaded over rocks and tree roots.
After lunch, Nancy, her brother, and I went exploring up the hill a bit. I remembered the first time I hiked here with Tyler, Ian, and Brooks, we managed to get on top of the tall rocks, not quite to where the beginning of the falls were, but still on the same elevation. Since I had done it before, I knew that I could scrable up the rocks, and climb a network of exposed tree roots to get to the top. And so I did.
Even though my rock climbing experience is limited, it helped during my scramble. I felt secure the whole time because I had good handholds and footholds. However, I must say, hiking boots are no good for climbing! Although, to be fair, my climbing shoes would have been so coated in mud it wouldn’t have done me any good. From the top, I could see the start of the waterfall through the trees.
I attemped to take a selfie with my brand new selfie stick that my parents gave me for Christmas, but I couldn’t get the remote to function. Instead, I contented myself with taking in the stunning views for a few minutes. Then, I reverse scrambled back down to where Nancy was waiting for me.
Nancy is my adventure buddy. At Berry, we went on countless exploratory hikes (always making it back in time for dinner), long bike rides on the weekends, and even occasionally running in the afternoons when it was too cold for other (more) fun outdoor activities. We are such good hiking partners. For example, we needed no communication to stop and admire this pretty view. We were simultaneously drawn the creek. Then after we had our fill of eye candy, we moved on.
Luckily, the end of the trail didn’t mean the end of Nancy-Morgan time! Nancy drove me home. We hung out for a bit, chatting, eating chocolate, and playing board games until, eventually, yes, we had to say good-bye.