Last weekend at Glen Onoko Falls

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
― Henry David Thoreau

As sweat collected on my brow and my breathing deepened, my heart was pounding, and I had moments I needed to hold on to a tree branch or rock, I realized that the hike I was participating in was hard.

Recent hiking group chatter sparked my interest in getting to Glen Onoko before the trail was supposedly closing due to dangerous conditions due to the erosion of the trail after the destination became a heavily visited park for tourists and locals alike.

This steep, 3.7-mile loop trail located near Jim Thorpe, features multiple waterfalls & scenic views. At an elevation of 1,003 feet, it overlooks the Leigh Gorge. The Pennsylvania Game Commission owns the property as part of State Game Lands and has closed the trail access to the falls from Lehigh Gorge State Park in the Jim Thorpe area of Carbon County. I did see improper footwear and observed people smoking pot, being unsafe at times, and taking some variation of risks of slipping and falling, but luckily, when I was there just before it, closed (April 27) no one was injured, although I did hear later that there was one rescue call. In the past few years, an increase of injuries and even deaths prompted the action for safety concerns.

Glen Onoko Falls 12 SIG

Maybe it will get repaired and by then travelers will also consider their personal safety before setting off to charge to the top of a slippery rock 80 feet above a gorge. But no one really thinks that they will get hurt, not really. Many people either have two approaches to life, to charge with no intention or attention to their surroundings, or fearful to fall at every footstep, so they never take a chance. I can relate to both of these individuals at different times in my life. I like to think that over the past five years, I’ve been better connected to myself, my abilities, and pushing my comfort zone just a little bit at a time.

Thinking of this hike, I didn’t give up. Even when there were lots of people that weekend, all eager to see the view and falls, even with the danger signs, and even with the warnings about others who’ve fallen, I still climbed up and stood at the top of the falls, and underneath them. I took photos with my camera and recorded it on my GoPro. I worked to stay present, feeling my feet tremble as they climbed up steep rocks, and gripped the sides of tree trunks to keep from slipping off the slick stones. Of all the dangers, I didn’t stop, I charged ahead, eager to capture photographs. Yet, at the last hour, I became fearful to travel in the dark. And even though I knew it was a loop, I decided to may my way back the way I came, not trusting the trail, and knowing the way I came, vs the unknown path (shorter) ahead.

Looking back at this experience, I wished I had kept going and faced my fears. But if I hadn’t walked back, I wouldn’t have met a wonderful couple from Bethlehem. They were dancers and told me about their ideas to start a history and destination-focused business. I wouldn’t have had the unique opportunity to meet a new friend if I had taken the path all the way around the loop.


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