Trip Reports

Rainy Days, Waterfalls, Fire and Brimstone – July 2, 2009

  • July 2, 2009

With the rain (and work!) at a steady constant over the last week, I decided to use the few hours of daylight I had left at the end of each day to catch a waterfall or two! There are an amazing number of short trips one can take around these parts, and being someone who is usually attacking a multi-mile trek, it is good to ease back and enjoy the smaller things every now and then.

(Left out of this report is one failed attempt to reach Dryad Falls before dark. Note of caution to Dryad seekers – Mill Brook Road is personally NOT recommended for cars with a low bottom. Do yourself a favor and walk the extra 4 miles. Enough said on that).

Day One: Sabbaday Falls. A cold evening greeted me at the base of the falls, where, due to the dark clouds and cool breeze, I had the entire place to myself. Setting up the tripod, I fired a few decent shots off and then relaxed for a while listening to the churning waters.

Day Two: Appalachia. There is an incredible amount of beautiful falling water along the trails leading up from this popular trailhead. Due to the time restraints on this evening, I picked a quick loop past several cascades. The dark sky and a faint drizzle accompanied me on my journey. It was very interesting setting up the tripod with and umbrella / plastic bag shield!

After a quick jaunt up the Link trail, Cold Brook Fall was the first spot on my list. This waterfall is a perfect one for photography – the shape of the falls and the layout of the land about it make for several great “poses”! Note to anyone traveling to this waterfall: It supplies the local water supply, so stay clear of entering the water!

Heading back along the Sylvan way, I had just enough time to loop around and check out a few spots on the Fallsway trail. First up was a soft and gentle Gordon Fall. This was a nice resting spot for some quiet thinking time:

Further up the Fallsway trail is beautiful Tama Falls. To really appreciate this gem, a quick run off-trail to the base looking up is a must:

Daylight was getting shorter, so it was back to the trailhead and home for the day. Again, the weather and time meant I had the place to myself, which was a different experience for me at the usually bustling Appalachia.

Day Three: Bridal Veil Falls. It had been raining all day, but by 7 PM as I reached the trailhead in Easton, the rain had stopped. I set off at a brisk pace up the well-trodden path. As luck would have it, within a half hour I was caught within a complete downpour! So, I plodded on, wrapped in raingear, my original careful hopping from rock to rock finally settling into a careless sloshing through every puddle, no longer caring about remaining dry. The trail ceased to be a path and instead became what appeared to be an extension of Coppermine Brook. I began to wonder if every hill ahead of me was the waterfall that I was seeking!

Soaking wet from the knees down and miserable, I reached the shelter by 8:15, where I was able to wring myself out and try to get the camera equipment ready. Bridal Veil Falls was a raging torrent above the shelter, and I had some difficulty crossing the stream to get to it!

There was no way I was going to get up closer to the falls than the base, which was flooded with water. I must have made for a funny sight in the thick rain, setting up a tripod in a foot of swirling water, feet completely submerged, plastic bags and umbrellas perched over the camera. Of course, like everywhere else I had been the last few days, I had the place completely to myself. Water hit the camera lens, and I wiped it off… and so the battle went on and on as I got one halfway decent shot for every 10 blurry photos.

As I was repositioning my camera for the last time, and looking in the viewfinder through the plastic, I saw a bright red smudge on the left side of the LCD screen. I wiped at it and it didn’t go away. “Great!” I thought – ruined the camera! Just wonderful!

I happened to look up and had to blink twice. Above me, the gates of Hades had opened up, and the waterfall was on fire. Bright, brilliant red flames danced across the rock face and over the water. It was an instantly terrifying sight to a solo hiker so recently absorbed by a small 2-inch screen, and I was completely unnerved for a fleeting moment.

It took me several seconds to realize that the light from the setting sun to the west, a glowing red sunset, was coming through the trees and striking the rock face of the waterfall. In about one minute, (at about 8:25) the effect was gone completely, and the waterfall returned to it’s original state. Within that minute I was just barely able to get my wits about me and fire off one shot before it was all over.

Soaked and shaken, I beat a hasty retreat through the rain back to the car, where the adventure came to a close at 9:30. What an interesting few days!