Brailling a Waterfall

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Have you ever walked right up to a waterfall and felt its shape? All the while passing sounds of running water and islands of silence muted by soft snow underfoot?

I never had either.

This weekend two friends and I headed into Sun Peaks/McGillivray Creek Falls (aka Whitecroft falls), about a twenty-minute walk in from the access road to Sun Peaks ski area. It was a blue bird day—clear blue skies and cold, -18°C—which made the snow under foot squeak but have good traction. If you have not read my other posts you will not know I am Blind. I have been losing my vision since the age of 8 and now at 58 am in the end stages of retinal disease. The sounds and feel of my surroundings are increasingly important for my connection to the world as my vision continues to fade.

After a few minutes we took Jayna, my Guide dog, off leash and let her run. Of course, she went logging and came out with her usual large stick. This time about 8 feet long. This meant she often got stuck behind forest foliage as she refused to give up her treasure. Bit by bit it broke down and at the end of the trip she had broken and whittled it down to about a foot.

The path was well worn underfoot, and I used my usual technique of holding the white cane on the horizontal between me and a guide. This works great for keeping consistent distance apart, and also for tight turns as I can feel the cane pressure against my hip. Going down there were a couple of tricky, slippery bits so I put my hand on Jim’s shoulder and went down with no problems. We all wore good winter footwear with good treads and Yaktrax ™.

At the end of the usual summer trail sits a King’s seat, carried in by locals as a memory to a friend lost too early in life, a great place to eat lunch in the summer and reflect. Today, we left this familiar path and walked seamlessly onto the frozen creek. Jim and Pat had me put my cane down a hole where I could hear running water. It told me we were on a thick slab of ice with water about 5 feet below. We ascended small steps to what I would learn was the frozen waterfall, still falling yet silent in time. The textures were amazing. Rough trails of frozen water coated with a dusting of powder. Then there were bubble smooth bits that felt smooth and so cold they must have looked blue. Pat and Jim could see running water behind these transparent areas. How cool! We hike to these falls in the spring and summer and the roar and mist off the falling water is incredible. To touch this still body of water yet know it in such a different way is humbling.

These falls were the ones where we carried our instruments in last summer to shoot a song video. The fragrant moss, misty trees and soil filled my senses. Today my senses are filled with stark reminders of the changing seasons mother nature provides. The cold creaking snow sounds like clean virgin white and this part I am still blessed to be able to see. The running water sounds definitely blue with a silver tinge. The transparent bubbles are as smooth and round as blown glass.

Pat and Jim described walls of textured grey slate stepping up a cliff on the other side of the frozen brook, each ledge brushed with a dusting of frozen blown powder snow. Trees leaned over and formed archways, also brushed with accents of snow.

I give thanks for the area I have chosen to retire in and the friends and companionship with which we all live. These types of spontaneous excursions are on a daily basis. If there is something you want to do you can always find someone to do it with. The waterfall idea started this morning when Jim saw some great pics on Sun Peaks Survivors, a local Facebook page, and wanted to walk in. Pat and I replied to his call out and we were off to experience this adventure together. All in all we were away from the hill 1.5 hours.

My friends are amazing and have developed into being so incredibly descriptive. I have trained them through asking questions because I am endlessly curious and want to know. They have taken that information and now offer some incredible details I would not think to ask. I am so grateful.

Now we are thinking of going to Wells Grey Park and seeing the great Helmcken Falls in its frozen state. More to come.


One Reply to “Brailling a Waterfall”

  1. My darling daughter
    I closed my eyes after reading about your experience with the waterfall and you lead me on the path you walked today. Thank you for heightening my senses.
    I love you.

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