Spring waterfalls bring overflowing blessings

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Lanterman's Mill
Mill Creek Park offers a breathtaking view of Lanterman's Mill and adjacent waterfall. (Julie Geiss photo)

There’s a travel game that I love to play called Two Truths and a Fib. First, one person makes three statements — two are truthful and one is a fib or an exaggeration. Then, the other players have to discern which two statements are truthful and which one is a downright lie.

The following are my statements: I love waterfalls, I hate mud, and spring is my favorite season.

It’s a tough task to find my lie, but it’s right there in black and white. Saying I love waterfalls is very accurate. I am infatuated with falling water. It’s a sensory experience on hyperdrive. The sound of rushing water combined with light reflected in the water drops is a surreal experience every time.

It’s also true that I really hate mud. I’m not sure if my four kids or two dogs bring more mud into my house. It’s too close to determine who is the bigger culprit. In my opinion, the only redeeming quality mud has going for it is that flowers eventually pop out of it.

That leaves the lie; spring is not, in fact, my favorite season.

Temperamental

Spring in Ohio and much of the midwest is so temperamental. It’s warm and sunny; it’s blustery and hailing. Between sunrise and sunset, we experience drastic temperature changes and multiple forms of precipitation.

Even though it’s not my favorite, I can appreciate spring in spite of its very evident moodiness. After all, spring is the best time to view waterfalls. In order to experience the loveliness of the waterfalls, I have to get over my dislike of mud.

Buttermilk Falls

Two recent hikes through mud and over boulders brought us very close to three beautiful waterfalls. Buttermilk Falls is in Buttermilk Falls Natural Area near Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. The short hike went through the remains of the Homewood Stone Quarry. Sandstone, Limestone and coal were extracted from the area.

In close proximity to the Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroad, the quarry was very productive in the mid-1800s. The sandstone was used in many construction projects in the area, most notably at the Western Penitentiary near Pittsburgh.

The trail followed the creek and led up a number of steps to the nearly 40-foot waterfall. The sandstone outcropping was impressive, towering over the partially frozen plunge pool. The hike itself was more of a casual walk, and the waterfall was very accessible from the trail. We were able to see it from many angles, including from standing behind the falls.

The length of the trail to the waterfall and back to the parking lot is only a mile. The first day in March when the sun was shining and the temperature soared to a balmy 57 degrees, I knew we had to spend some time on the trails.

Alpha Falls

McConnells Mill State Park is in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. We wanted to add more miles to our Hike 100 Challenge on the North Country Trail. At the northern end of the park, the tallest waterfall, Alpha Falls, can be reached by following a spur trail off of the Alpha Pass Trail.

We took Route 422 to McConnells Mill Road and parked in the parking lot labeled Alpha Pass. During winter and early spring when the trees are bare, the waterfall can be seen and heard from the scenic overlook right next to the parking lot. It was also interesting to see the tiny stream that funnels the water over the sandstone cliffs. However, the best view is from the bottom looking up.

Alpha Falls is most impressive during wet times of the year, like spring, when the small stream swells and then plummets over the rocks. Following Alpha Pass Trail, we continued on to see the next waterfall, Kildoo Falls.

Kildoo Falls

To get to Kildoo Falls, we hiked past the covered bridge and transitioned onto Kildoo Trail. There is not a marked trail up to the waterfall. Many of the boulders can be slippery and the terrain is uneven. We cautiously moved up just enough to see the rock outcroppings and Kildoo Falls.

The waterfall captured spring and winter in one landscape portrait. Icicles reached down to frozen bubbly ice on the ground while water cascaded over in another spot.

Naturalist Hal Borland once said, “No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” Inspired by frozen icicles clinging to the cliff and the water rushing over it, I am grateful for this season that brings overflowing blessings, new beginnings and a little bit of mud.

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