Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Project “New England Waterfalls”

              We have visited some amazing waterfalls over the years, from the most magnificent, Niagara, to those located in Letchworth State Park in NY.  The roaring thunder of water crashing over these falls is deafening, and their power awe inspiring. They make great destinations by motorcycle when you have several days to travel. We’ve also discovered some fairly magnificent falls right in our own backyard, and this has led me on a quest to discover them all. At least the one’s easily reached from the roadside anyway, and not after a long and arduous hike. I started my search for waterfalls on the internet, but it was a tedious affair. Fortunately, I stumbled upon this book, New England Waterfalls, written by Greg Parsons and Kate B. Watson.  This guide lists over 400 cascades and waterfalls in the New England area. The vast majority of them are easily reached from the roadway.

                The New England Waterfalls guide is very good with descriptions, ratings and directions. While the directions are great, there are no GPS coordinates listed. So began my New England Waterfalls project, to create POI’s (point of interest) or in other words, pinpoint using the directions available in the guide, the waterfalls listed in the book. My plan of action is to work my way out from “home”, finding and labeling all the locations that can be reached in a day’s ride and working my way out from there.

                I’m using software available for my Garmin. Early on, I ran into a question in my mind about the accuracy of my calculations. For instance when the guide instructs to follow a particular road for 7.2 miles, I used the measure tool available with the software. This gives you a “true” measurement. My understanding of “true” is the measurement in terms of straight lines. Yet I know that roadways curve left and right, and up and down. So I wasn’t sure if my calculations were correct. Over the Memorial Day weekend, I had the opportunity to test two of these POI’s.

                The goal was to travel to Vermont, and using the POI alone, find two waterfalls within our day’s ride criteria. I selected Jelly Mill Falls in Dummerston VT and Hamilton Falls in Jamaica VT. Our first stop; Jelly Mill Falls.  I was pleased to discover my POI right on target! What I didn’t expect was that it was on a dirt road. Andy and I have traveled many a dirt road on the Cruisers and will do so even if we don’t care to. We had Lee with us though, and he would rather not ride his big Kawasaki Voyager up and down dirt roads. Thankfully, the falls were a short way from the intersection of the main paved roadway so we didn’t have a serious issue.

                Next up was Hamilton Falls. We had a little more trouble with this, but it was due to the GPS routing I discovered later, as the roads we finally found our way on were as described in the guide. What wasn’t described was even more dirt roads. Over a mile and a half of dirt that I wasn’t pleased about taking Blaze over. Lee didn’t say too much, although I suspected he had his qualms. Yet he took the Voyager all the way to the falls and back and did a great job at that. Andy rides his Kawasaki Vulcan like a trail bike. I never worry about him!

                After I returned home, I opened my GPS software maps and zoomed into these two areas. For Jelly Mill Falls, I noticed the dashed lines indicating dirt roads. However, for Hamilton Falls the lines are solid, indicating to me that these roads are paved. The experiment overall was a success. My calculations were accurate, we were able to visit the falls a short way from the road and I learned some valuable lessons. One; don’t assume the roads are paved, and two, make via points to avoid having the GPS take you through all the back country. While it might be the shortest distance as the crow flies, no one’s flying unless we’re on the slabs.

You can download the coordinates on my GPS Page.

1 comment:

Trobairitz said...

Wow, that is a lot of cascades and waterfalls in your area.

I always have liked the idea of picking a topic and trying to get a bunch of them. Hubby is doing that with covered bridges in Oregon and it really helps us plans rides and pick destinations.