A few summers ago I was living on the island of Maui, in Hawaii. While in Maui I went to numerous swimming holes—and played in and near many waterfalls. At this particular spot, swimmers could “disappear” behind the waterfall, as there was a small cave behind it. In order to enter the cave, it was necessary to become completely immersed in the waterfall, backing slowly into the cave until it provided shelter from water pounding down from above. I closed my eyes tightly, and remember the unique vantage that being behind the falls allowed me as I squinted to open my eyes just a little so that I could see the falls from behind. In what little light there was, I could tell that gravity was yanking splashes big and small from the steady stream. What is perhaps most vivid for me was the moment in which I re-emerged from the cave through the thick veil of the falls—I remember wiping my hair out of my face and opening my eyes, exhilarated by the energy of such a powerful force of nature.
What was your body doing?
My body was crouching under a waterfall, backing slowly under it to duck into a cave, then re-emerging onto the ledge up to which I had climbed.
What senses were being used and how were you using them?
Touch: My sense of touch was engaged in feeling for firm footing on the slippery rocks where I crouched. I remember vividly how strong the flow of the water was as it pounded my head, my neck, and my shoulders—it felt almost like a deep-tissue massage. Also, I remember that the water was warm on my skin, not cold at all.
Sound: Submersion in rushing water is extremely loud, blocking out all other sounds of nearby nature. While I was in the cave, the echo of rushing water was deafening. When I re-emerged though, everything seemed so quiet.
Sight: I recall specifically that I had my eyes closed tightly and could not see anything while under the falls. In the cave I could see just a little bit, as water splashing me in the face and a lack of light prevented a full visual experience. When I re-emerged, the colors of the swimming hole—the deep greens of vegetation and moss-covered rocks—were extremely vivid.
Where did you nature interaction take place?
This nature interaction took place at a swimming hole and waterfall in Maui, Hawaii.
How often have you had this experience in your lifetime? (estimate as best as possible)
I would estimate that I have stood below twenty different waterfalls, but that most were neither flowing this intensely, nor involved a secret cave.
What feelings came up for you?
Exhiliration, excitement, happiness, twitterpation, joy.