Somethings are worth searching for. And sometimes it is the search itself that makes the looking worth the effort. My friends and I spent two days traveling along a ‘water fall’ trail. Searching for water descending from a high place. With most stops providing beautiful views, but little more then trickles of water to behold. But in the end our persistence paid of.
On our final stop of our second day. After having looped around a wide swathe of southern Indiana. We finally discovered a large quantity of water rushing over a ledge. The preceding month of dry weather meant it wasn’t as awe inspiring as it otherwise might have been. It didn’t have the millions of gallons of water Niagara falls has on display. But it was still a beautiful sight. An excellent waterfall to end on.
Life never gives us exactly what we are looking for. A roaring torrent of water throwing mist high into the air certainly would have been a marvelous site. But in the end our search for waterfalls was really an excuse to make found memories. If we had passed the miles grumbling about the lack of water at one place. While making ultimatums about what we better find at the next stop… Rather than joking and laughing.
We would have missed out on a whole host of small moments. Moments that made the trip. Moments that are more valuable than the sight of falling water. With a disease such as pulmonary fibrosis it can be hard to focus on the small positives that surround us. As it progresses it becomes harder and harder to do the simple things we once took for granted. New reminders of our illness seem to appear suddenly without warning.
When every inhalation is a struggle. How can you possibly stop and smell the roses? Maybe you can’t… but the roses are still there. They are still beautiful and you can still gaze upon them. It’s easy to develop a mindset focused purely upon the negatives we face. But even though living with a progressive illness is a struggle. There are always small positives that can brighten up our existence.
I’m sure someone is shaking their head with a sigh while reading this. Thinking to themselves, “That’s easy for him to say, living on the other side of a double lung transplant.” Which is a fair assumption. But it is also an incorrect assumption. There are still struggles on this side of the journey. And it was in large part due to my positive demeanor pre-transplant. That I am still hear today.
It is precisely because of all I’ve been through. That I am able to find the positive spin on so many things. Of course I’ve had my moments of frustration and exasperation… My heart sinking when my weight dropped beneath the BMI requirement for transplant. My feeding tube coming out for the fourth time. Learning the hard way that morphine causes me pain rather than suppressing it.
In comparison a water-less waterfall isn’t something to be grumpy about. It’s to be shrugged off… Needing oxygen tanks to go out is annoying. Being enabled to spend time with friends or a significant other is worth it. Committing to a pulmonary rehab program effects your schedule. Improving lung function and getting to know your pulmonary therapists is priceless. Discovering a new stumbling block is frustrating. Knowing what you’re facing gives you plausible options.
At Cataract falls I choose the option of enjoying myself. And even though life can be a struggle. I hope you choose to enjoy your life as much as possible too. And if you are crossing Indiana along I70. You might consider a small detour to enjoy Cataract Falls. Of all the stops along this waterfalls quest. It was the most accessible for someone suffering from pulmonary fibrosis.
Cataract falls actually consist of an upper falls and a lower falls. With the upper falls visible as you are pulling up to the gate entrance. I simple right turn and you’ll pull right into the upper falls parking lot. From there it is a short walk to an easily accessible viewing area.
If you’re relying on wheels. Then choosing to cut through the grass might be a little bumpy. But no more so than your average suburban lawn. Whether you’re carrying your O2, pulling it in a cart, using a rollator, or riding in a wheelchair… it should be doable. And if you’ve got enough air in your tank, there is a covered bridge to enjoy.
When the water level is low, it’s possible to stumble your way across the river bed. But the covered bridge offers a nice alternative. It had a lot of graffiti on it’s inside. Which was a little disheartening. But hopefully it’ll receive a fresh coat of paint soon. Just focus on the unique view out it’s windows and ignore the poor grammar scribbled everywhere.
Once you’re ready to see the lower falls. There’s a relatively short trail connecting the two sections. Or even easier on the lungs… simply driving to the next parking lot. Which is right next to the falls. There’s no viewing area for the upper falls. But a fence near the dropoff’s edge is a nice place to lean while taking in the view. And if you’ve got the lungs and the extra O2. You can stroll over for a closer look. Though I wouldn’t try it with wheels.
If you decide to give Cataract falls a visit. Make sure your navigation system takes you to Cataract falls and not the Lieber Recreational area. We punched in the address provided on the ‘Ultimate Southern Indiana waterfall road-trip’ article aaaaand… well it took us right past the falls without our realizing it. We ended up were we told it to go. But that turned out, not to be where we actually wanted to be.
You see… while the falls are a technically within the Lieber state recreational area boundaries. You can not actually get to them via the main entrance. Something we quickly learned upon receiving a map from the ranger at the gate. Though I guess one could kayak or canoe their way to the falls. Oops…
Did our navigation error eat up part of the dwindling time remaining on our adventure? Sure… Will we laugh in the future recalling how useful an arrowed ‘Cataract falls’ sign would have been? Of course we will. Because that is precisely the type of memory worth remembering. And in the end memories are the best souvenirs. So no matter how hard breathing may get. Keep collecting them for as long as you possibly can.