I had contemplated getting in, but wasn't too sure because I didn't pack a swimsuit and didn't want to hike back down in wet clothes, so I was weighing out the pros and cons of getting in that crisp mountain water. While crossing the stream to get Jon's bag, the universe made the decision for me and I slipped and fell in. It was so cold. I tried to let out a laugh but only a exhaustive and surprised sigh came from my throat. After that I figured, "well, what the hell, I'm already soaked," so I wandered down a ways closer to the falls and found a small little pool which I claimed as my own. I held my head under the rushing water and let the water flow over me. I felt like I was a battery being recharged-- if I were a video game character, you would've seen my energy bar refilling. After spending some time in the pools, I laid under the sun on a large granite slab, hoping to dry off. Within a few minutes I konked out for a good 10-15 minutes. When I awoke, I felt so recharged and refreshed unlike I've ever felt before and I swear to you I am not being hyperbolic. Jon and I knew it was time to start making our way back down to the valley floor, so with no water we decided to fill up our canteens with fresh mountain water and cross our fingers that we wouldn't get sick from any bacteria or contaminants (spoiler: we didn't get sick 😎), and we headed back.
Getting down was sooooo much easier than the way up. We had stopped at a particular spot under a shady tree on the way up, and from that point it took us two more hours to get to the top. On the way down, we made it there in under 40 minutes. Now we knew why all those people on the way up kept telling us we were only 10 minutes away.
Thanks for looking. Below are a few bonus pictures (two of the trees and sky from the trail, and one screencap at the end of our hike. 24,000+ steps and 250+ flights of stairs. What a long day.).