Seeking Waterfalls

This past weekend I left the puppy and the bus in the care of family. While I piled into a rental car with some college buddies. Heading south to do a loop along the “Ultimate Indiana Waterfall trail.” It’s been rather dry for awhile here in the Hoosier state. So there wasn’t a whole lot of falling water to be seen. As with any road trip with friends though… it wasn’t the destination that was important. But rather the memories made while rolling down the road.

People mistakenly think Indiana is a pretty flat state. Which if you compare it to states that make up the Appalachians… sure. Indiana has is a lot more flat open space for crops. Especially in central Indiana and on up. But you don’t have to go very far south of Indianapolis to loose yourself among the hills and hollers. Taking in views that would feel right at home in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.

Setting out we planned to visit four state parks, one state recreational area, one nature preserve, and one county park. Seeing twelve waterfalls over two days. A schedule that would have terrified me pre transplant. Not because our planned pace was intense… it was actually quite laid back. But rather because trying to see so much, while juggling oxygen requirements, would have been near impossible, impractical, and just plain not fun.

However; while I would not suggest this trip for those needing supplemental oxygen. There are a few of the less rugged sites, which I believe could be doable for a pulmonary fibrosis sufferer. Post transplant… Its going to depend on how well you’ve been able to take care of your new breathing apparatus. Despite everything I’ve been through I was actually in the best cardio shape of those in my little traveling party. A physical condition that earned me some ribbing from my friends.

I was hiking trails, climbing stairs, and crawling over rocks like a champ. But its something I’ve been working toward. I work out regularly, try to eat healthy, and go for frequent walks with the pup. I didn’t have new lungs installed and then go skipping merrily down the street. It took a lot of work and a lot of help from some awesome medical folk to get me here. And despite the teasing… I’m pretty sure my pals are happy I can go so far without being winded.

We managed to squeeze three stops into day one. Which should have garnered us views of six waterfalls… however, while there were indeed views. Calling them “waterfalls” may be a stretch of the imagination. Though our first stop, Anderson Falls, could be a nice detour for those Fibrosis patients already travelling nearby. There is a small parking lot and the waterfall is literally right across the narrow country road that brought you there.

The falls are maybe… 20 yards from the parking lot. Which can be a long way when you’re on supplemental oxygen. But thankfully there are no trails , stair cases, etc… Cross the road and you’re there. Wheelchair and rollator users might experience a few bumps, but it should be doable. There is a hiking trail, but it wont be accessible unless your really stable on your own two feet. I say this because to get to it, you have to cross the river feeding the falls… and there isn’t a bridge.

I doubt I would have attempted it pre transplant. Perhaps if I only needed a few liters per minute with exertion. And was carrying just a small O2 tank. But I doubt it. I would have probably been happy simply taking in the view. But if you give it a go… watch the rocks. They’re slippery. Once on the other side the trail is a loop that goes eight tenths of a mile. And is a relatively easy hike. You wont be going up and down hills or pushing your way through the undergrowth.

I didn’t see the raging torrent of water the internet had promised. But I’m glad we stopped. Investigating the riverbanks, watching the fish dart around in the shallows, finding good stepping stones so I wouldn’t need to put on dry socks… It was a lot of fun. And I would have enjoyed exploring for several more hours. Yes a roaring cascade of water was what I was hoping to see when I climbed into the car that day.

But if nothing else… fighting
Pulmonary Fibrosis and all the included hurdles. Has taught me to find joy, in the situations in which I find myself. I’m not perfect. I still get bummed or upset. Recovering from surgery, for example, isn’t fun. But not enjoying myself in an enjoyable situation… because of one thing outside of my control. Just isn’t part of my mindset anymore. Every breath I have now is a gift. And gifts should be enjoyed.

After taking in all there was to see at Anderson Falls. We piled back into our rented ride and began our trek toward our second destination… Muscatatuck Park. Continuing our quest to create new memories and hopefully see a waterfall or two along the way. (To be continued…)

Anderson Falls Nature Preserve: 3201, 3699 N 1140 County Rd E, Hartsville, IN 47244

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