Throughout most of the year, Franklin Falls is known as an easy hike to a pretty waterfall. This past winter, it was so cold the waterfall froze over, turning into a winter wonderland buzzing with human activity. A quick Google search showed me that the hike was just about a mile long and lacking in steep inclines so my friend and I jumped in my car and sped off to the mysterious waterfall that neither of us had even heard of before, despite living a short 45 minute drive away.
We quickly discovered that what was supposed to be relatively simple was going to be a lot more complicated. Immediately exiting off I-90 I knew we were in trouble. Tons of cars lined both sides of the road turning it into a one-way road and a very tight fit. Finding a place to park was a nightmare on its own full of honking, close calls and tight parallel parking.
Once we had found a spot, we were in for another surprise. The road leading up to the hike was closed off because of all the snow, turning a one mile hike into an eight mile one. Luckily, the roads were mostly clear, making our travel time longer but not any harder. The official trail – once we reached it – was much more difficult to maneuver. An originally simple hike turned slippery and treacherous forced some older couples to turn around after already hiking for two hours.
However, once at the destination, the view was unbeatable. The entire hike was beautiful and each corner presented another sight to stop and marvel at. Snow covered rocks looked like marshmallows and trees converted from green to white trickled down just enough snow to land on the tip of my nose and the ends of my hair.
As my stamina was starting to run out and the sun was starting to set, I asked someone heading in the opposite direction how far away we were from our goal. With a quick smile the woman told me the waterfall was just over the hill we were struggling up and as she walked away, she stopped for a moment to yell over her shoulder an enthusiastic “don’t worry, it’s completely worth it.”
Once we crested the hill we were repeatedly slipping down, my friend and I saw just how right the woman was. My breath caught in my throat as I looked at the gigantic looming waterfall. The way the water had frozen made me think for half a moment that the whole thing was going to come crashing down over all the people standing on the frozen lake below.
The waterfall was frozen over completely except for one trickle of ice shards that the crowds were wisely avoiding. Other than that one area, everything else was solid ice. People wandered everywhere. Some sat on the edge of the frozen lake, staring at the surrounding mountains and enjoying lunch while others went to the next extreme, climbing up the side of the waterfall with the type of heavy duty gear only reserved for professionals.
The atmosphere of the people surrounding me was one you could only receive after you’ve accomplished something difficult and received a brilliant reward. Country music wafted over from a group of rowdy boys but even that horrendous screeching sounded like it belonged. We were the crazy people who had headed into a project that was supposed to be easy, and ended up with a thousand obstacles in our way and yet we still pushed through and made it to our destination.
The woman was right. It was completely worth it.
If I was planning to go to Franklin Falls again, I would have gone out earlier and brought warmer clothes and thicker gloves. This would’ve caused a lot less stress and a lot more pleasant of an experience. Though, it would be hard not to have a good time surrounded by good views and even better people.