Mornings in Cumberland Falls should’ve been reserved for the heavens. Our sweet host set us up with homemade wheat bread from Christine’s Kitchen (a local bakery) and a slab of grass fed Irish butter. How fitting, as at the beginning of this year I thought I’d be in Ireland at this time.
Coasting down from the house in the hilltop, we pulled into a small gravel patch to park our car before embarking on the Eagle Falls Trail. I’d read about the seemingly endless case of stairs this trail held, but didn’t truly feel the pain of this until I was in on it. Even so, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
As we trekked along the river’s edge, Cumberland Falls appeared in all of its glory. This trail hosts the best views of the falls that you could find in the entire area, providing not only a great aerial lookout, but also a straight shot from the river below on the beach. I couldn’t get enough of it; I just wanted to sit down on the beach, watching the water rush by me all day, but I knew the trail had more to offer.
As the name suggests, this trail also leads to Eagle Falls. Up close and personal, I scrambled up the rocks beside the waterfall, following the natural staircase until I was behind Eagle Falls itself. It’s hard to describe the kind of power natural elements like these fuel you with–but you know the one. It’s that feeling you get by closing your eyes and opening your arms wide, feeling the full strength of the wind just before a storm–the potential energy of what is, and what could be.
This energy slowly drained from me as we took the Trail 9 loop back, an almost entirely uphill battle. Being the last night of our two-week-long road trip, we spent the remainder of the day just relaxing at our AirBnb.
I’d booked a treehouse yurt out in the middle of nowhere, and it was absolutely perfect. We built a crackling fire and lounged in our hammocks beside it, while sipping mini bottles from a local winery. We’d also scored some homemade salsa, which only seemed right to break out now. There was no service -no WiFi either- just us and nature. A babbling brook flowed behind our tiny safe haven, which soon became background noise to the spring peepers ensemble. However, we could also hear it coming.
It was as if thousands of snakes began rattling their tails into the wind at once, slithering their way through the thick woods. Uprooting my lawn chair from its cozy spot beside the fire, I began to race to take shelter beneath our yurt. Setting up a front row seat, I’d won this round against the storm. However, she was quite the sore loser. Eyes wide open, I watched our hard-earned campfire disintegrate, sparks flying through the air like the Fourth of July. The silver sky cracked in half, sending a vibration through our chairs. The once-dry ground beneath us now splashed side to side, forming huge craters in the Earth, just begging to be big enough for a name.
I felt as through we were in the eye of a hurricane, until it came. Droplets pounded our faces as if a semi had drove too close and I screamed, shoving my belongings under my shirt and sprinting toward a new finish line in a race I knew I would lose. Drenched, I squeegeed the rainwater out of my hair, regretting every item I’d left below in my car and praying our small shelter could handle this storm better than us.
As the night went on, the rain slowed a bit, so I went outside to see if there was any damage. To my surprise, I was greeted with a much more pleasant surprise. Hundreds of green lightning bugs swirled around me, creating a moment that I could only describe as pure magic. I fell asleep in a dreamy haze to the sound of raindrops pattering on our roof, the now-river flowing beside us and the frogs calling out to each other in the distance…