This is my final post about our August vacation.
There are plenty of waterfalls in upstate New York—in the area known as “The North Country,” there are 40, according to the book, Waterfalls of New York State. I’ve only seen six of them that I know/remember. Four in the North Country, Niagara Falls, in the Greater Niagara Region in western NY, and seen another whose name I’m no longer sure of any more, in the Finger Lakes region of Ithaca a couple of years back (I remember it was a well-kept park, and a little bit of a walk along a wide path that ended in a short bridge with a blasting waterfall above it and to the left). Anyway, I’ve never been much of a “waterfall hunter,” but have always loved them, and over the years have really grown interested I them. And since I’ve gotten back into photography…learning to use a digital camera…thought I’d try my limited skills at photographing them. Apparently, it’s in vogue to not shoot how the water really looks…but to blur it…which gives it a “dreamy” effect. And it does. But I sometimes feel catching it how it looks also has its place. To get the dreamy, “smoothed-out” look, you need a tripod and to use slow shutter speeds; you also need to adjust aperture and ISO to get the best shots, but man, I’m still way behind and learning the perfect blends of all that.
On our trip out this year, I picked a couple of falls to visit, but we only managed two: St. Regis and Allen Falls. St. Regis is in the way-small-town of St. Regis, between Lake Titus and Canton, as the crow flies. Allen Falls is between St. Regis Falls and Canton, just outside of Potsdam, NY.
My wife and I left our Lake Titus camp mid-morning on August 14th, and took Route 30 to 458. Once we hit St. Regis, we parked just on the other side of the low bridge, alongside the Post Office, if I remember right. I took my gear and hung out on the bridge, while my wife took a walk down the road that went alongside the St. Regis River. But what I didn’t realize until writing this post was that I’d actually missed the named-falls itself, and had just took shots of the man-made spillway, or whatever it’s called. I still managed to get some decent “learning” shots. I guess I just got so caught up in figuring out settings and such, I lost track of which falls I should have been doing this at!
After spending some time there, we left for Allen Falls, and this time, I actually did get to the actual Falls themselves. We had to take 11B to County Road 47, then a turn onto Allen Falls Road—which was not marked from the direction we initially took. The sign must have been down. We stopped for directions, doubled-back, and found it. It was down in a cozy little dip in the road, and we parked off in the dirt-into-grass clearing, beside some parked heavy equipment, where another car was already parked. We found the footpath, and we and my camera gear on my back, hiked into the trees.
It was an easy trail until just before the falls. Falls drop…so that means at some point the terrain also has to drop, and it did—sharply. So, glad to have been wearing hiking boots (which my wife was not wearing) and sporting a camera pack, I had to scurry down the slope on all fours (I had to also climb back up the same way), leaving Laura at the top. I should also mention that just before I went down the decline, I went off the trail alongside the west branch of the St. Regis River, that feeds into the falls. Here (as well in a few other places along the trial), I pulled out my camera and tripod from the pack, then carefully stepped out into the shallows in the rocks—and promptly fell!
As I had images of me being hideously swept over the rocks, and down into the falls themselves, my wife’s horrified screams echoing in my head…I quickly noticed that that had not been the case.
I merely fell smack on my ass. Embarrassingly so. And my wife (and no one else!) was anywhere in sight!
As I “sat” there among the rocks, my body an upright “V” with respect to my torso and legs, as well as my hands—left hand held the camera up and away from the water away from my body, while my right hand held the tripod up and away—I realized that I still lived and breathed above water and rock. Though my behind was just a smidge damp.
I quickly picked my undamaged self up and did a quick scan of self and surroundings. Nothing broken nor bruised…and no screaming wife or any other onlooker. Good thing for asses, of which mine is fairly well-developed from weightlifting, and well (as some might view) from being one. Anyway, no harm, no foul (yet hearing my dad’s Forest Ranger voice in my head: “Yeah, but you could’ve killed yourself”; indeed I tell virtual Dad, I very well could’ve…but not today…), and more carefully set up my tripod and snapped some shots before proceeding down that slope to the base of the falls….
At the base of the falls, where I initially found myself alone, I waded out into the stream—don’t worry, nothing dangerous here at all, it was level and shin-high, thought swift, but no chance of “going anywhere,” even if I again slipped on some rocks. But I didn’t. So, I settled in under some branches just downstream and took my time messing with all kinds of setting and taking all kinds of shots, some of which came out pretty nicely…well, at least from my amateur point of view. But I think I may have spoiled some “young love” that had later on also ventured down to where I was.
By the way, as to the tea-brown color of the water—which I love, by the way!—here is a great article describing the color. I love the dark waters of the Adirondacks, and have written about it, as I did in “What Dreams Are Made Of,” in my new anthology, Do The Dead Dream? I find the waters of the Adirondacks quite mysterious and plan on (have actually started) writing a novel involving such mysteries….
St. Regis Spill Way
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