Wandering Amylessly: Chasing water falls on White Mountain


By Amy Larsen
WyoRadio feature writer

Growing up, White Mountain was really nothing more than a backdrop to my childhood and the name of the library and Jr. High I went to. Sure, we went fossil hunting in the foothills and occasionally rode our bikes over there, but for the most part, it was just always there.

In High School, the cross-country team would run out to the falls, which was the first time I had heard of falls on White Mountain but didn’t actually go out there until I was an adult. Eventually, we also discovered the wild horse loop and often drove it when we were looking for something to do, but again it was just on the mountain that was always there. Something I never even really thought much about.


When I first created my Wyoming challenge, I reached out to a lifelong friend of mine as he has always supported my adventures, and I wanted his thoughts on it. As expected, he was excited and even started helping me think through some options and offered to tag along on a few of them. I had no game plan at that point, but as I continued to think through it, it made sense to me that my first check mark would be Sweetwater County, and I made the goal of making it happen over the Memorial Day weekend.

My goal did not involve hiking White Mountain; instead, I wanted to mountain bike. I have a nice bike that I really don’t know how to use and thought this would be a great opportunity. However, as we texted through some options, hiking White Mountain came up, and ultimately it was decided that would be the start of the challenge; after all, I had never done it.

White Mountain photo submitted by Amy Larsen

Before we go further, I know White Mountain isn’t one of the grand mountains to ascend in Wyoming, and the hike isn’t incredibly difficult, but that little kid in me still questioned if it was doable, which just increased my desire to start there.

As you may remember, Memorial Day weekend in Rock Springs was not all blue skies and sunshine. It was the opposite, overcast and rainy, but I was ready for a weekend of adventures.

I went over to a friend’s house for dinner one night, and we took their side-by-side to White Mountain to check out the falls and wildflowers, even though it was raining a bit. I was surprised to hear the word “falls” as all I knew was there was one waterfall on White Mountain, and that was where everyone hiked to.

I was amazed when we got to the two other falls as they were like mini sanctuaries, tucked back at the base of White Mountain, a little off the beaten path, and strangely peaceful. Sitting there and looking out over the town I grew up in was amazing. You could see almost all of it, and suddenly, my “small” hometown didn’t seem so small, but it still felt like home.

White Mountain, seasonal waterfall photo, submitted by Amy Larsen

It was crazy to watch the waterfall over the rocks and see the erosion all while standing in a high plain desert too. I knew the falls wouldn’t last all summer; they were just a temporary thing, kind of like many of us that grew up here. At one point, my friend turned to me and said, “It’s kind of fun to be a tourist in your hometown, isn’t it?” The answer was an absolute “yes,” mostly as a reminder that no matter how far I have come in life, how far I go, there is still so much to discover, even among the familiar. New relationships, new memories, always new waterfalls.

I’m not going to lie; on the hike, it was a bit chilly, my asthma was a mess, and it was muddy the morning of the hike. Being a bit stubborn, I was determined I would do it, no matter the conditions or if I had to do it on my own, which, thankfully, I didn’t have to. We took off, knowing we would go as far as possible and turn around if it got too bad. We got to the first incline, and I was told, “This is the hard part,” for the first of three times that morning. I have to laugh as, honestly, isn’t that the truth about life? Sometimes we think we are at the hard part as we haven’t been on this path before and have no idea there is another hard part just ahead. The key to making it up, to keep going, however, was I was with someone who had been on this path before, who knew what was still ahead but didn’t want me to worry about it before we got there.

We just had to tackle what was right before us and then do it again when we faced it again. He always explained what made this section hard but where it eased up as well. Those are the people we need in our lives; the ones who always make the journey doable, help us realize that sometimes things just can’t be rushed, take breaks when needed, and just enjoy it. Neither of us was ever the leader, there was no prize to win, and even though this was my challenge, it was our adventure together. It often reminded me of one of my favorite quotes:

“Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow
Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead
Walk beside me… just be my friend”
Albert Camus

Occasionally we would just stop and look out over our hometown, breathe it all in, as so much of who we are today is because of what was sprawled out in front of us. It was crazy to be standing near the top of White Mountain, the background of our childhood, looking out at how far we have come and how much further we can still go. There is still so much to learn and discover.

So, I have 1 out of 27 Wyoming challenges under my belt. What’s next? I’ll be doing a hike in Fremont County (still TBD) sometime during the weekend of June 24, the 5K in Ten Sleep on July 1, and then hopefully paddling either Hot Springs or Big Horn County the following day. Anyone is welcome to join, especially as my first hike showed me it’s always better to do it together.

Get out and enjoy Wyoming’s great outdoors!