August 17, 2012

Kaaterskill Falls, The Upper Falls

The lure of the Kaaterskill Clove is the extreme contrast from the sea level elevation of the Hudson River to the mountain tops far above. The stunning reality is a 3,500 foot contrast.
The Catskill Mountains are the first significant mass of earth to accumulate moisture from the Atlantic Ocean as the clouds move inward. It is not uncommon to see afternoon rain showers in Haines Falls, Town of Hunter as the sun shines. As A result of the accumulated precipitation, there is usually an abundance of flowing water at the very eastern portion of the Catskill Mountains. This gracious precipitation does not go too far in terms of supplying much of central New York State with water; most runoff is diverted through the Shandaken Tunnel to Esopus Creek and ultimately into the Catskill Aqueduct.

'.....The Overall Thought In The First Place.....'

(2012-08) Kaaterskill Falls, The Upper Falls

Looking north-east:
Kaaterskill Falls 
are in the background.

Looking north-east:
Kaaterskill Falls 
are in the background.

(2012-08) Kaaterskill Falls, The Upper Falls

Looking north-east:
Kaaterskill Falls 
are in the background.

A Misunderstanding of Soil Characteristics:

 I want to discuss my presence here in March of 2012.
I had not been here before other than driving on New York State Route 23A.
As I would drive up the mountain, I would marvel at the waterfall beside the highway.
On one day that was convenient, I decided to park the vehicle in the parking lot and walk over to the waterfall and photograph it.
I was impressed with the display of water as I photographed it; I decided to walk further up the trail until I saw Kaaterskill Falls for the first time. I recognized the image of the falls as it is iconic of the Catskill Mountains; I simply did not know that it was there.

 It was an unusually warm March in 2012, later that day, the temperature would be above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
As I approached the waterfall at the bottom, I wanted to see the upper level, I edged my foot into what I though was moist compacted top soil, it was easy to climb above the second level and look down at the upper waterfall.
The only characteristic that I thought negatively of the soil was that it was more slippery than I expected, it appeared to have something similar to talc in it.
At the very top of the slope there was a trail along the upper cliff that led over to the waterfall area, I was able to look down and photograph the upper waterfall.
I did slip on a patch of ice but, I was not terribly concerned because I assumed that the soil was sufficient to arrest my slide at a the steep angle that I would have traveled.
I was a bit concerned about the thought of climbing down but, my footwear was sufficient to maintain traction in the soil as I executed careful well planned steps to the trail.

'Change' recorded by Candlebox in 1993

 The encounter in the month of March was positive and I was excited to return to this location in August of 2012. I decided that I was going to climb to the second waterfall and photograph it as I looked up at the water as it was falling; in March, I was quite some distance above it as I looked down.
I eagerly started to climb the very steep slope toward the upper waterfall; a great difference was observed, the soil was hard compacted clay that didn't provide any traction.
I made it to the same level as the upper waterfall and started to walk toward it, I had difficulty with my footwear, I had to project my movements to coincide with stationary objects such as trees.
I really didn't have sufficient traction. 
As I approached the upper waterfall for the first time, I encountered the rope railing.
The trail is not level as the upper area is approached, it is a thin strip beside a high cliff that drops down to the bottom of the lower waterfall, there is a wall on the other side of the trail that restricts access to the upper waterfall from any other location except the uneven trail.
I wanted to stand at the bottom of the upper water fall so, I held the rope with a hand to guide me as I walked the otherwise deadly trail onto the spectacular ledge that is washed clean and flat at the base of the upper waterfall.
As I stood below the falling water, it was a spiritual occurrence as I felt nothing less than the thin moisture from the falling water as the wind would sometimes blow and shift the gentle stream by a few feet.
I had stood where countless others had striven to stand as I was at that moment.
I had the most vivid amphitheater providing a show of water that turned to mist on the long way down to me.
I was able to walk on the level floor and see myself as someone that could climb in the deep spirit of motivation toward a fulfilling an ambition. 

(2012-03) Kaaterskill Falls

 The climb down was not spiritual, it was of mortal concern for my well being.
The concrete that I once thought was topsoil was harsh and required me to step from stone to stone with the aid of the occasional tree to support me in my great descent.
The grade was so steep that I had to place my feet as I leaned far back and embraced a rock with my hands; I would appear to be sitting if observed from the bottom of the slope.
I took the necessary time to think every move through; I understand the consequences of a hasty movement in this environment.
People at the bottom could see me slowly working my way toward their location, I arrived safely at the official end of the trail.
I was the first person of the day to stand beneath the falling veil of water.

'Don't You' recorded by Candlebox in 1993

It is not topsoil, it is hard clay that requires significant traction; good footwear may need to be inclusive of cleats to achieve suitable traction. The soft clay in March was a fluke and should never be counted on to provide life sustaining support.

I over climbed and, it saved me of a difficult encounter with much ice that is perpetuated with mist from the upper falls. I am actually better off standing above the upper falls.


'You' recorded by Candlebox in 1993

I had stood where countless others had striven to stand 
as I was at that moment.