Pattison State Park, Wisconsin

As we were driving toward Superior, Wisconsin from our hike on the North Country Trail, we saw a state park on the map. It was not too far out of our way to check it out. We were pleasantly surprised to find that it is well known for its waterfalls. Big Manitou Falls is 165 feet (50 meters) tall and is the tallest waterfall in Wisconsin.

I will warn you now, if all you want is travel information, just read the photo captions.

The walk from the campground to the Little Manitou Falls is about 1.5 miles (2.4km). My two hiking companions turned back at the CCC bridge and I spent some time alone which was exactly what I needed that day. I walked on the new wide trail on the way there and the narrow trail on the way back.

It looks to me like they are not planning to maintain the narrow trail. If you are also a person who enjoys a trail that has roots and rocks to step over, I suggest planning your trip soon. If this is a place you visited in the distant past, I imagine it will look different to you. The main trail looks very new.

Little Manitou Falls is smaller than Gooseberry Falls, but similar in that it is a place where people climb on rocks and play in the water. Exactly the kind of place my daughter would love. Exactly the kind of place I used to love. I felt some resentment that life stole that joy from me. Every time I see people playing in this type of setting now, I feel panic. I do not like that. It is not fair. It is a beautiful place that should be enjoyed. I sat there a long time and prayed. Not really in words, though.


I watched the water and thought about where that water was coming from and where it was going and the form it was taking at the moment. Lots of possibilities for metaphors that are helpful in finding a way forward. I am grateful that no one else was there on that Sunday morning. The day before it was too busy for me to thoughtfully experience it. On that Sunday morning I told the waterfall I wanted to be friends again. I want to enjoy watching the water again. This might sound strange to some who read this but that is ok. We all grieve our own way. We make our way through this life the best we can.

Big Manitou Falls. Tourists everywhere. Signs and railings and fences warn against climbing. There were signs at Gooseberry Falls last summer also. We willingly ignored them. We paid the price.

My husband and I attended a gathering recently for the purpose of remembering a member of our community who had died. The following quote was read. Lots of people are grieving these days so I include the quote in the hope that the words may be helpful. I am not sure if the words will make sense to someone who has not yet experienced brokenness. They made sense to me and I agree. You have to love. You have to feel.

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

― Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

9 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this hike, Tammy. This sentence resonates with me so much: “I felt some resentment that life stole that joy from me.” There are teas that I still can’t bring myself to drink, and a lot of my prayer also don’t have words. Thank you, again.

    Liked by 1 person

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