A Hike to Kawishiwi Falls

posted in: Ely Adventure, Photography | 1
Kawishiwi Falls
Kawishiwi Falls

Yesterday with party sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-thirties I headed to the Kawishiwi Falls trail-head east of Ely. The trail in and back was a little less than a mile but with the ice and snow covered up and down trail, it was challenging.

Given how icy the trail was from daily thaw freeze cycles, I wouldn’t have tried it if I didn’t have Kahtoola Microspikes on my boots. They made all the difference! Even on glare ice on slopes they gave me solid traction.

When I took a look at the trail I wasn’t sure whether I should try the hike, even with the ice spikes. But I told myself that if I slipped even just a little bit or if I felt unsafe I would turn around. When I’m hiking by myself with uncertain cell phone coverage I’m much more aware of the need to be cautious.

I’m so glad I made the trek even though I wasn’t terribly impressed with Kawishiwi Falls. I had the trail to myself only meeting two people as I was almost back to the trail-head. The trees along the trail were beautiful and the snow-covered land is still quite beautiful.

While standing high on a rocky cliff across the river from the falls I accidentally dropped my lens hood. All I could do was stand and watch it roll down over the edge of the cliff. Between being all by myself on a high cliff overlooking a river on rock covered with ice and snow, and wearing ice cleats on my boots, there was no way that I wanted to move suddenly and risk slipping or falling off the cliff. As I watched the lens hood bounce and roll down the rocks time seemed to slow down. I remember thinking, “Not going to try to catch it, too risky—it’s a small price to pay to replace a lens hood but my life is priceless to me.”

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
― C. JoyBell C.

It was one of those moments that showed me once again how strong is our instinct for life. Some of the trees whose roots grew up around rocks and seemed to be clinging to the rocky slopes also showed me how strong the life force is. I am filled with wonder at how strong they are and how they grow in this soil-poor rocky environment.

May you walk in beauty.


  1. Joanne Engelking

    Gorgeous photos. I agree that the falls are disappointing, but the trail is worthwhile. Glad you discovered cleats, which are essential for winter hiking along with poles and artificial heat packs to keep hands and toes toasty warm. Congrats, you are now an official northwoods explorer! What an adventure, Marilyn. I’m impressed that you are doing this solo in winter conditions.

Leave a Reply