Monday, June 30, 2014

Discoveries and Challenges in our Waterfall Hunt
The Price for the 5.0

It’s going to be hard to encapsulate the adventures we had hunting down a couple of high rated waterfalls on my list. Let me just say that “taking the road less traveled” lead us on one excellent adventure! On this day we decided to head out to Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts for two waterfalls I wanted to experience; Tannery Falls in Savoy and Twin Cascades in Florida. We headed in the general direction avoiding of course, as Andy is prone to do, the most direct path. Along this route we stumbled first upon the homestead of a John Adams (relation to past presidents undermined). This is located on Russell Hill in Ashburnham MA.

We arrived at Black Brook Road for our first waterfall in Savoy, Tannery Falls, to find the road was closed. There was another biker sitting by the stream having a smoke who turned out to be a local. We learned the road was severely damaged by hurricane Sandy, and he described the damage to us. We would have to go around the long way to access the falls. He was heading there himself, but since he had a dirt bike, getting across the barrier was not a problem. As we watched him squeeze by with ease we thought we could do the same. Andy got his bike through, and then he took Blaze as I was unsure of my skill in such loose gravel. He almost got the girl across too! Maybe if I had been pushing instead of filming she might not have suffered a bruise to her left saddle bag. I pushed the second time and we got her across. I turned to look at the barriers we had just conquered, to discover a message scrawled across them. Well, you can see for yourself below. Also watch the video as I traverse Black Brook Road.

Black Brook Road

Click here to see Blaze take a tumble.

This was not the end of our trials. The dirt road to the falls is not maintained and with the recent rains was in an even more deplorable state. In addition it was all downhill riding; no car tracks to follow only a narrow slightly more solid middle and nothing but washed out gravel left and right. I didn’t think I’d make it all the way staying upright, but managed to do so through sheer will. We arrived finally and parked the bikes. Our next effort was the long climb down. At least the trail has built in steps as you zigzag your way to the bottom. We were rewarded with not only Tannery Falls, but Parker Brook falls too. Both are at the bottom, one coming from the left and the other from the right. There are also several falls in the area along the route, so this place is well worth a trip for a number of falls all in one place. Check out the videos I took.

Click here for Parker Brook Falls Video.

After managing the climb out of Savoy Mountain State Forest, we took the longer route back out. Along the way we discovered Susan B. Anthony’s birthplace. See photo. Our next destination was Twin Cascades. This was easier on the bikes, since it was paved all the way, with only dirt parking near the entrance to the hike. This is along a set of railroad tracks at which sits the longest tunnel this side of the Rocky’s . The Hoosac Tunnel is 4.75 miles in length and has a long and interesting history of its own including numerous ghost stories. With 195 deaths in its construction, I’m not surprised.

Hoosac Tunnel

The climb to Twin Cascades is not for the faint of heart. The trail is narrow, muddy and slick and runs along the ravine. All I could think about were those donkeys in the Grand Canyon and wished for the sure footedness they possess. One mishap and down you go. There is some climbing too; one being over a large man-made concrete barrier probably as old as the tunnel. We arrived at the base of the falls where there is another manmade dam. Here I could get video of the falls to the right, but for a better view of the cascades to the left, I had to cross the stream. While it was not deep, I feared slipping on stones and getting my book and phone wet. Andy added a few more stones for me to step across. (See both videos below of the falls left and right.) I did do some hand over hand climbing along the rock face to reach the top of the dam. Once there the water is fairly shallow and I could walk from one side to the other enjoying the falls. While we survived the hand over hand climb up and down, don’t try this unless you have good traction shoes. If you have fear of heights as I do, just don’t look down.

If there is one thing I’m learning, it’s to expect the unexpected. It’s difficult to put into words the feeling of being in the presence of such power, and the wilderness in which you find these falls. The scent of the forest, the damp of the earth, the babble of a brook or the thunder of the water leave one breathless not only at the majesty but from the exertion itself. But every step is well worth it!

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