Wednesday, October 26, 2022

The Waterfall Tour - Part 2

Day one of the waterfall tour was misty and rainy, day two was a sunny day and we went to a very different stream. Where day one featured a stream with a series of cascades, day two’s stream was one of chutes and potholes and a dramatic 40 foot waterfall.

We walked an old logging road that climbs along the stream; on the way passing a historic log cabin with intricately dovetailed corners –

And picturesque locks on the windows' shutters –

The old road veers away from the stream until it’s above the scenic portion, so we started there and worked our way downstream past the chutes and potholes and waterfalls. The stream enters the drops in a rush –

And then goes through a narrow slot about 15 feet deep –

Speaking of slots, there’s one that’s dry now but many years ago the stream apparently followed that route –

The stream exits the first chute over a small waterfall into a large swirling pothole –

It leaves the large pothole and continues down a deep narrow mossy gorge with mist rising –

That mist rises from a very narrow chute and a complex series of small waterfalls in and below the chute –

The bedrock here is slippery even when it’s not wet, but on this day the rock was wet and very slippery. At least seven people are reported to have died here, including one last year. Falling into the stream from just above the small cascade in the first photo on down is generally not considered survivable.

We watched a fellow who appeared to be in his mid to upper-70s, and not too steady on his sneaker-clad feet, inch ever further out on the down-sloping rock on the left side of the second of the above photos in order to take a photograph with his cell-phone. He survived – by dumb luck.

Just below that series of small waterfalls the stream goes over its largest drop –

It may not look like much from that perspective, but the waterfall is between 35 and 40 feet high and drops into a deep pool –

Unfortunately these photographs really don’t convey the full beauty of the stream, the gorge or the waterfall. Below the waterfall the stream continues in a series of cascades for about a mile.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The Waterfall Tour - Part I

We took a trip north during which I had a chance to visit some waterfalls. Now I’m a sucker for waterfalls, seldom passing up a chance to view and photograph a nice waterfall and repeatedly visiting some that I’ve been to before.

On a misty, rainy day we visited the first of two streams that I’ve never seen before, both of which have nice waterfalls. The streams and falls will remain nameless since both areas already receive quite a bit of use and are showing signs of that impact.

Day one was a walk on a trail that began life as an old road portions of which have recently received a topping of crushed stone and improved drainage –

The trail follows a stream with a series of beautiful cascades. How do you  differentiate between a cascade and a waterfall? I have my own criteria, yours may differ, it's very subjective on this stream –

Until we come to the first waterfall –

Past that waterfall there’s another –

And then another –

Finally the water drops over a low ledge –

Above which the stream takes on a more northerly appearance with spruce and fir and a bit of fall color –

As you can tell by its tea-like color, this stream originates in a large wetland where the decaying vegetation colors the water.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Setting a Tower

Many years ago an old forester asked me if I skied and I replied yes, cross-country. He went on to warn me against downhill skiing because my profession required a lot of walking over hill and dale in rough terrain and he felt that downhill skiing was sure to result in lasting leg injuries.

Well, I’ve never downhill skied but our son and his family are avid and excellent downhill and backcountry skiers. For years I worked for a fellow who’d been in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II and had skied until his death in the 1990s. Those connections to downhill skiing plus the fascination with big machines of this little boy, grown much older, made the process of installing new towers for a ski lift interesting to watch. 

The towers were being installed at one of the larger downhill ski areas in the east using a helicopter which appeared to be an Aerospatiale Super Puma owned by a company based in Quebec.

Ski areas are not at all natural, are disruptive of vegetation and wildlife, use large quantities of energy and are scars on the landscape, but the construction of lift towers is interesting nonetheless –


The heavy lift helicopter –

Rigging crew with parts and pieces at the landing zone –

Lifting the base section of a tower which is to be placed and bolted on a concrete footing that was installed earlier

Refueling the helicopter; note the “bubble” through which the pilots can watch their load and the crews on the ground below –

Carrying up the crossarm –

The tower ready for the crossarm; on top are the two crew members who’ll actually attach the crossarm, one with an orange shirt and one with a yellow vest –

The view from afar (about 4,300 feet) as the crossarm is brought up; to the left of the helicopter is a completed tower –

Also dressed in orange and yellow are two men on the ground using taglines help maneuver the crossarm as it is placed on the tower

The video isn’t the best due to the distance and atmospheric disturbance caused by the day's wind and the helicopter’s downdraft. 

Would I want to work immediately below a helicopter? No! I'll never forget the first person I saw die, he was a helicopter pilot demonstrating how safe helicopters are, how they can auto-rotate down if the engine fails. I won't go into details, but the helicopter crashed and he died during that demonstration.

Helicopters are much more difficult to fly than airplanes and the skill of the pilot setting these towers is something to be admired. 

Thirteen towers were installed in one day by the helicopter and the ground crew. The ski area plans to have the cable up, the chairs installed and the lift running by the time the snow flies.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

A Great Day It Was

The day began at 4:00am when the alarm went off; by 4:45 I was on the road headed for Pennsylvania’s elk range, sustained by a cup of coffee and a cinnamon raisin bagel. The roads were almost deserted and most of the houses dark.

I passed a cabin with a large lawn where, in all the years I’ve been making this trip, there's never been an elk lots of deer, but never an elk. But there in the morning twilight was a bull elk with his harem; even though there was barely enough light for photography, it was worth a try –

A little way further on there were two young bulls in a field, one with part of a plastic bag stuck on an antler –

After that the sun rose higher in the sky and the elk retired to the forest to ruminate and rest. But there were still interesting things to be seen as I walked to some of the meadows to look for fresh sign and a spot to spend the evening waiting for elk. A young white-tail buck with antlers still in velvet –

Spider webs –

And a banded garden spider -

A few mushrooms that I can’t identify with certainty –

Monarch butterflies headed for Mexico, some already tattered and others in good condition –

In the woods at the edge of a meadow a couple of the parasitic plants known as Indian-pipes were still in bloom –

At the edge of one meadow, a flock of turkeys: hens and young of the year

With that it was time for a nap in a shady spot along a stream. Late in the afternoon I headed back to a large meadow where at least three bull elk were bugling from the surrounding woodland. Patience pays and an hour later, with the sun low in the sky, a large bull emerged from the forest and bugled several times

During the rut bull elk frequently wallow in mud to which they've contributed urine, all the better to make them more alluring to the ladies  –

One of the other bull elk that had been bugling entered the meadow –

The star of the video stood up and the two bulls ran in parallel, over a small rise where, except for their antlers, they were lost from view and engaged in a short joust –

The bull with the palmated antler returned to the forest while our hero pushed two cows back into the band –

With the light almost too dim for photos it was time to head for home. But wait, there was another bull elk to photograph – one bedded down in short grass beneath an old apple tree –

Fifteen miles closer to home was the last elk of the day, a young bull. Just to get a usable photo required the camera to be pushed to its limits and then processing on the computer – here he is –

Indeed, a great day it was.