The number eight is continuous and ongoing just as life itself, connecting beginning to end and back again. It has deep meanings in Christianity, numerology, Asian cultures, and many other religions and cultures. It’s the symbol of strength, determination, harmony, balance, and the ability to make decisions.
The other day, these photos crossed my screen. They were taken 8 years ago this month (in 2008), at Burgess Falls and Twin Falls. Interestingly I was also a size 8 then, and have come back around (finally, lol) to a size 8 now.
Like the number 8, waterfalls are also continuous.
While a waterfall appears the same no matter how long you look at it, it is constantly changing. Every single drop of water that flows over it is new.
Waterfalls are often related to emotional release, rejuvenation and renewal of spirit. Water is a sign of life, and also spiritual cleansing. In literature water is frequently a symbol of change and often represents turning points.
In dream interpretation: “To see a waterfall in your dream is symbolic of letting go. You are releasing all those pent up emotions and negative feelings. Alternatively, the dream represents your goals and desires. In particular, if the waterfall is clear, then it represents revitalization, regeneration and renewal.” –source
I’m not one to typically get all caught up in symbolisms. In fact, the points above were just from some reading I was doing as I was winding down after a big hike yesterday. I did FEEL something though when those images crossed my screen, and felt deeply compelled to return to Burgess Falls – so that’s exactly what I did.
On my hike, through my sweaty trail runs, while sitting at the edge of the falls, as I trekked upstream through the water… I thought of all the things in my life that have come and gone and will come again – as well as the things that have remained.
I thought of each friend I’d brought to this beautiful spot. I thought back on my childhood visits here. I thought about the trip here 8 years ago, which happened to be the time in my life I fell in love again – for the first time since my marriage ended almost 9 years earlier. It was that same beautiful, magical love that I always thought only happened once in a lifetime.
That experience renewed my hope in love and possibilities. That’s when I stopped thinking “this is my life now” (accepting fate), and started living my life – with an open heart and an open mind.
I share all of this with you to express how DEEP my trip was yesterday, and just how much meaning it held for me.
As you know, I’ve been going through a hard time lately. A turning point in my life where I’m accepting a lot of changes and making big decisions.
I feel like life (the universe, God, my subconscious) handed me a trail map back to hope, one that didn’t make a lot of sense at the time and felt more like “a whim”… but turned out to be a heart-opening journey of personal revelation.
It was also an amazing hike, and an incredible workout. 🙂
Like I said, I really just drove to Burgess Falls on what felt like a whim. I felt drawn to go. As I started out on the hike I was questioning that decision. I’ve been here a million times. What’s new to see here? I could have gone anywhere…
I wandered a bit, mind and feet both.
I even walked out of the park and up the hill back up to the main road to stand at the bridge overlooking the waterway leading to Burgess Falls. I stood there for a long minute, and finally figured I was already here so I might as well hike it…
It’s an absolutely beautiful hike, short but strenuous, and there are three gorgeous waterfalls along the way. This is the “first falls” which is the smallest of the three:
It wasn’t crowded on a Tuesday afternoon, but there were several other hikers out so it was a very social trail. I met some neat people along the way and got to pet lots of sweet dogs. 🙂
I took it slow the first leg of the trail, taking in all the familiar scenery. There are so many memories attached to Burgess Falls, like the natural spring where Slim stopped for a drink and the spot where Tawnya and I took a picture together on our hike there.
That trail is so full of memories for me, dating all the way back to my childhood.
Next I came to the Middle Falls, the second waterfall on the hike…
There’s no trail to this waterfall, only an overlook from high up on the trail – and that overlook is closed due to erosion.
A man fell to his death there last August ignoring the warning sign and climbing the fence to see the view. I thought about that for a long moment too.
I did get my perfect view of the Middle Falls though, which I’ll show you in a second. See the lush grass just in front of the waterfall? I made my way down there. 🙂
My next stop was the Burgess Falls overlook, the main and 3rd waterfall:
I found out later that I drew a crowd on this overlook when I was hiking across the top of the falls down below and climbing the opposite ledge. 🙂
The hike down to the top of the waterfall is a steep and strenuous hike, but totally worth it! I ran the steps, down and back up a few times, enjoying the exercise and the sweat:
I made it down to the bottom of the trail and the top of Burgess Falls – where I sat for awhile. Then I hiked across the top of the waterfall and climbed the opposite ledge to get a completely new view… that I had never experienced before. 🙂
Something old, something new.
The trek was starting to take meaning for me.
Seeing that amazing view of the falls and the gorge below for the very first time was incredible, and of course an awesome adrenaline rush from a spot that felt high above the world! 🙂
Here’s a photo of me crossing the falls, and you can see the ledge behind me that I climbed up for my view. This is the only photo I didn’t take myself on this hike. There was a fun Chinese couple at the top of the falls and we took pictures for each other.:)
Here’s a video I took while sitting at the very top of Burgess Falls. The water is low here in Tennessee right now, but it’s still gorgeous:
With a little more pep now, I decided to climb down for yet another view of Burgess Falls. The stairs leading down to the gorge are closed and dangerous due to erosion, like at the Middle Falls, so I climbed down the side of the waterfall itself – as far as I could go safely, at least:
That was as straight down and straight back up as the Falls itself lol, so it took a lot of focus and upper body strength to climb it!
I climbed back up to the top of the falls and sat for a bit, socializing with other hikers and photographers, and considered what to do next. Hike out? No… I still wasn’t quite sure what brought me there, but I knew I wasn’t done.
Plus my adventurous happiness was kicking back in! 🙂
I decided to hike upstream to see the Middle Falls up close and personal. I’d only ever seen it from the overlook high above, which is now closed.
This was mostly a water walk, and the water was SO clear with little fish and crawdads and such scattering out of my way. The sun was HOT, the water was COLD, and it felt amazing. And then I turned the corner and there it was…
I just stopped midstream and took a deep breath. I felt like a kid again. 🙂
I literally skipped through the water, splashing and playing, like all my cares in the world got left behind that last bend I turned.
I got up close and personal with the Middle Falls. It was a breathtakingly beautiful work of nature, and a private little gorge that felt like a fantasy land.:)
Pictures truly don’t do it justice. I stayed here for awhile and viewed it from every angle, hiking all through the gorge and admiring cairns left by others who had ventured up to enjoy this same quiet spot. 🙂
This is the best I can do for you… (I’m not a photographer, lol)
I took in every bit of it, rock hopping and exploring the rocks and the shells and the driftwood. It reminded me of all the time I spent exploring in the woods as a child. 🙂
I finally hiked back downstream, across Burgess Falls again, then back up the hill. I met a photographer, a lovely couple, two girl friends hiking together, and even a sweet retired show dog named PJ.:)
Back up on the main trail, nothing had quite set in yet but I knew I wasn’t done. Instead of hiking out, I turned right and decided to take the River Gorge Trail.
This was a quiet trail in the woods with amazing views of the gorge down below. I had ventured down the path just far enough in the past to see the first overlook, but I’d never hiked the entire trail.
It’s October in Tennessee. It’s hot and cool, beautiful, quiet, colorful, peaceful. There’s less humidity and more of a breeze. Fall is setting in nicely, and with the change of seasons… it feels like a great time to make changes in my life.
This hiking trail was quiet, with no one in sight (or earshot). I walked through it softly, quiet with the nature around me, and just let things set in. It was a wonderful calm.
I came out of the trail and stood there looking right and then left, then right again, unsure which direction I wanted to go next.
I could take the easy path back to my car from there (the service road), or turn left and hike back along the waterfall trail the way I had come.
Just then a park ranger came over the hill and asked if I was lost. “No,” I said with a smile, “just making decisions.” That couldn’t have been more true.
I decided to hike the trail back, and we ended up hiking it back together. She told me about the squirrels in Washington state, we talked about the park renovations, we just hiked a fast pace for a bit, we discussed the park habitat.
I had two choices when I reached my car. I had just enough time to reach Rock Island and see Twin Falls for sunset (the other waterfall you saw in the first picture), or I could turn left and go to the city and have dinner.
I opted for dinner in the city. 🙂
I hadn’t eaten my almonds on the trail, but I did have a late lunch of sausage & eggs on the way to Burgess Falls, so I was plenty ready for dinner after 4 hours of hiking!
I pulled into the first place that looked good: Rib City. I ordered a full rack of smoked ribs (with no sauce), 2 orders of green beans, and a side of sliced tomatoes. I intended to order enough to have take-out for today, lol – but I cleaned my plate.;)
I was exhausted of course, and it was dark by now, so I drove the 40 minutes back home and just reflected on the day. It was full.
There were fun conversations with other hikers, quiet moments of reflection, frisky pups, questions running through my mind while my feet ran the trails, adventurous climbs and amazing views… I just drove home and let it all sink in.
For those of you that are worried about me hiking solo out in the woods with no cell phone signal, I always do a “check in” so someone knows where I might have disappeared, lol.
It turns out that compelling feeling to return to Burgess Falls wasn’t as random as it seemed or felt. I had to sleep on it for it to all truly sink in, but the lessons I learned in the woods yesterday were profound.
I’ve been feeling anxious and unnerved about losing so much weight. It all feels so new: a new body, a new size, different clothes. It just feels weird, and a little awkward. Realizing that I was once a size 8 before, hiking through those same trails, made me realize there’s nothing really new under the sun.
This isn’t change – this is a returning to myself.
There was some trippy mix of realizing that nothing is new and all things remain the same (the sun rises, the sun sets, the water flows)… and also realizing that nothing stays the same. Life moves forward and brings new experiences, new friendships, new things to enjoy.
I’m on a journey to become the happiest, healthiest version of myself – inside and out. Yesterday felt like a giant leap forward in what has seemed like such a long and drawn out process. 🙂
Life Goes On
It’s such a cliche, and not always the thing you want to hear (“life goes on” – often followed by “get over it” lol). I think it’s better to say life moves forward. Because it does, while remaining the same… which I’m still processing. 🙂
I’ve only ever shared the Burgess Falls trails with people I am very close to. It’s “my spot” – a space that’s special to me. Some of those lost friendships have haunted me for years. Yesterday I let that go…
I stopped pining over the losses as the good memories of fun times there followed me on my hike… and came out of those woods instead with an appreciation for what was great once, realizing there will be more great to come.
What I Took Into The Woods
Everyone always asks me about “the stuff” so I’ll tell you what I took. I had my Samsung S6 mobile phone for taking pictures. It does voice commands so I can take hands-free shots.
I also had my selfie stick and a remote that works up to 30 feet away. I was wearing Northside Burke Water Sandals (my favorite!!) and a Fabletics fanny pack – which I find helpful when I need all of my hands & feet for adventurous hikes. 🙂
Oh – and a Fabletics sports bra, which was necessary for running (lol).
My wish is that the hope I rediscovered on my hike brings you hope too, in some small way. Sometimes the smallest things can seem larger than life and so completely overwhelming. The truth is though, it’s a big world out there… and the only consistent thing in life – is change itself. Irony at it’s best. 😉
Sometimes you have to step out of your usual environment, step away from your usual daily circumstances, and get a little lost in the woods to truly find the meaning of things. Or to just let some things go, and rediscover others…
p.s. I have an Infinity Ring that I wear sometimes. I tried to trade it in for a “six month ring” once, but the jeweler said flatly “We don’t make those.” To which I replied, “Well then you’re missing out on a huge market.” 😛 haha – He didn’t get my humor. (lol) I have a new love for the ring now, and all the meaning it really holds…
Discount Code: LOWCARBTRAVELER