Then some fool posted photos of the falls on a social media site. Instantly, vehicles choked the narrow two-lane county road. Crowds poured into the pristine little canyon. Before I even got to see the falls, I was warned they had been ruined. With no bathroom facilities and hundreds of summer visitors a day, you can imagine the results. Or better yet, I hope you can't imagine ruination of that degree.
People were leaping from the falls, breaking bones and causing grief for the police and Search and Rescue. Parties abounded, and did not lack for variety. Rednecks and beer, dopers and marijuana, and more dangerous characters with higher powered party fuel in the form of illegal drugs. (I have to remind non-Coloradans that marijuana is indeed legal, sort of, in our state.) Fights broke out frequently.
The locals were outraged. The police were overwhelmed. I was sad every time we drove by, weaving our way slowly through poorly parked cars and hazy pedestrians crossing the county road.
We hiked along a narrow trail. I saw no evidence of the massive human depredation I expected. Only the sparsest remnants of trash. The occasional bit of broken glass. Evidence that humans had trampled down meadow grass and forged trails that scarred the hillsides.
When we reached the falls, we saw one other couple. My husband commented that his childhood stomping grounds hardly seemed worthy of the throngs of people who had been drawn to the site. I was captivated. But only because we enjoyed the view without sharing it with a hundred other humans.
I was relieved this tiny Colorado jewel had not been destroyed. I am amazed the area seems to be healing quickly. I can only hope the new has worn off this waterfall, and that the party folks find a more appropriate place to rampage around. Leave these precious, delicate gems to hikers, families, and those seeking solitude.
Do you have a special place you keep close to your heart? You don't freely share the location because you don't want hoards of people ruining that neighborhood park, cafe, thrift shop or fishing hole?
More photos in the slideshow below.