Sunday, August 12, 2007

Waterfalls, Cascades, Currents

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photos and text copyright 2006 - 2009 david w runyan II

Water in motion is visually mesmerizing and sensately invigorating. All of the photos in this section are from my home in New England, except for the shots of Niagara Falls. I live in a place called the North Quabbin Region. In native American, Quabbin means "Place of Many Waters" ; an apt description since the region is comprised of thousands of hills and hundreds of mountains, from which flow the melting snow and rainfall into either the fast-moving Miller's River or else the big lake at Quabbin Reservoir Wilderness.

Doane's Falls, Lawrence Brook, Royalston Massachusetts
The most dramatic waterfalls in the region are found at a place called Doane's Falls, which is where the rather tame, unassuming Lawrence Brook is transformed into a raging, enchanting series of 7 falls of 20-30' drops, twice as many cascades, and innumerable swirling currents as the brook tumbles down a mountainside for about a half mile before flowing into Tully Lake.
Looking down from the stone bridge, we see the beginning of this visually thrilling place of gravity-driven AquaVistas. She is alluring with her swirls and fast currents, decorated peripherally with Autumn foliage hovering overhead and freshly fallen leaves salting her rocks and cliffs.
She is a blending of white and dark waters; a theme she maintains over the entire course of her steep journey, showing us the endless ways she creatively converts these two simple elements into thousands of dramatic scenes.

How different a lady-in-motion she is when we shift our angle of view. From atop the bridge, she seems seductive but tame. When we slide below her, she takes on a more unruly demeanor; either mood attractive; both moods satisfying. She is, at all times, totally charming and her guests can't possibly prefer one angle over another since every aspect of her is sheer sensate excellence.

To help portray how rambunctious she is, I perched myself precariously upon a narrow ledge to take this insane shot of her first waterfall. Insane because each year, the falls claim the lives of a few who suppose themselves impervious to her perils. There is, by design, a level of danger in mountain beauty, and she is fully equipped with both perils and appeal. While I like to fancy myself "safely daring", I will admit that the potential for injury was in my thoughts each moment of this shot, and at various other moments as I traversed her course.
As you can see, she is pleasingly violent.

A bit further downstream, as we view her 3rd falls with the first two falls as a backdrop, we see that her essence of Steps & Landings is sweetly presented. In the far background, she flows in brilliant white over a sharp cascade and onto a flat landing, forming a momentary tranquil pool of bubbles and foam, only to then flow over a wider ledge, itself being a series of steps and having an intermediate boulder which splits her into twin white cascades settling onto a landing pool before flowing over the ledge of the falls which themselves are twins merging & meshing just before crashing into the landing below.

If you observe the falls on the left side of the photo, you can see that it emerges after passing under a boulder, adding more mystique to her curious flow. And when we are close to the falls, the water makes a unique sound as it travels underneath; as if it's rattling the rocks while splashing up against the ceiling and walls they create for her.
A truly sophisticated elegance she is with her moving waters surrounded by conifers, deciduous flora and boulders of all sizes and shapes; some of which are carpeted in green mosses.

The 4th falls which I call "The Race", are actually two falls connected by a steep rock slide of 75 yards through a gorge in the mountain. At this point, the mountain walls draw near to each other, forming a narrow passageway through which she shoots with velocity; her sound being a constant "swoosh" without audible interruption; her waters being white, fast and furious the entire ride.

When one rests here and ponders the amount of water passing by, he finds himself asking . . . where does it all come from? A hard thing it is to comprehend how this small, narrow, shallow brook can produce such volume day in, day out, all year long. Despite the human claims of how small the world has become, Doane's Falls and places like it succinctly remind us of the vastness of earth and its capacity for enormity, even in seemingly confined areas.

Further downstream, we encounter her 5th falls, whose waters are a gentle approach, becoming jagged curtains which land as white rapids flowing over shiny black slate. She adorns herself in so many different outfits. She remains a mystery, unpredictable, and regardless of how frequently you visit, or how keenly you pay attention to her details, she will be a different stream when next you meet; leaving you to accept that you aren't permitted to know her, only to admire her.

When we cross to the opposite shore, not only do the falls take on an entirely different look, but the fallen leaves sprinkled about on her boulders are downright handsome compliments to her flowing beauty.

Shortly thereafter, we arrive at the 6th falls which are a nearly vertical 30' drop, difficult to reach from the left, and impossible to reach from the right side without rock climbing gear. A rugged, handsome, thunderous place she is.

The stream thrashes its way down the cliff, and you'll notice a thick pillow of foam on the far side.

While the 5th falls can't be reached from the right side, the 6th falls can't be reached from the left, lol. The water shoots over this ledge in a velocity arc as gravity impedes its natural trajectory. Despite the steep plunge, the stream becomes oddly calm at the landing, slowly gaining speed as it approaches the final falls.

From here, with the 6th falls and mountain walls in the background, we see how she rolls and flows over, under and around the granite and slate obstacles in her path.

Her 7th and final falls are splendid. Large, steep, fast, with a long drop and a wide-open view from all angles.
Her falls erupt as twin white bulges near the top of the ledge, and the entire face of the cliff is an array of jagged showers over various outwardly protruding rock features.
In this view we have a theater with the mountain cliffs in the background, a defiant little shrub in the foreground who is facing the leading lady at center stage; the bursting walls of water.

This spectacular view is yet another theater as the stream bends sharply, causing the bank to appear as a peninsula adorned with trees and rocks as a veil through which the stark beauty of the falls exudes.

Waterfalls are what I refer to as "unexpectations". When you hike unfamiliar forests, you don't expect waterfalls and then in the distance, you hear the sound of water in motion and all else becomes forgotten as you are driven to find the source of the sound. Imagine being a hiker who was compelled to find these falls and was eventually greeted and treated with this scene of aquatic grandeur in the midst of the wilds. A chance meeting which will invade his soul through all of his senses and remain with him forever.
I hope you enjoyed this chronicle of Doane's Falls. Expect more on this place of wonder in the future as I plan to capture her with icy edges, snowy frosting and the raging waters of Spring thaw.

as promised, here are Doane's Falls in late December, decked out in ice and snow, raging from a recent 2-foot snow storm, followed by 2 days of 40 degrees.

The fourth falls is what I call The Race, and is actually two falls connected by a steep rock slide of 75 yards through a gorge in the mountain. The water shoots like a rocket down the race, white water all the way, bouncing and bounding off the walls of the gorge. This is the upstream view. Downstream views this time of year are simply too dangerous to attempt.

From this angle we see the leading falls, and then how with mesmerizing swirls, the water flies wildly down the rock slide.

And this is the falls at the end of the race where all that velocity and thrashing comes crashing into the landing pool. Could you not just sit on that snowbank for hours and watch all that white water roar by your eyes?

The difference between the winter falls and other times of year is best depicted with these, the 5th falls, which are so overrun with rapids that they are visually unidentifiable, but still, obviously a very stark handsome feature.

On the approach to the 5th falls, the river makes this sleek curve-bend, and given how level and seemingly flat the riverbed appears, it is an unexpectation to see the water flipped and tossed as it is. Also notice the endless line of icicles on the far shore.

The 6th falls were simply impossible to shoot due to danger aspects, but I was able to shoot the final falls, which were robust, exploding, thunderous waters.

From this angle, nature provided a rustic frame through which to view the final falls.

Further downstream we obtain this theatre-like view of Doane's grand finale!

At the end of the cliffs, Lawrence Brook again settles into a placid, winding New England stream, meandering through the forest until it reaches its final place of flow; Tully Lake.

2nd Annual Arctic Doanes Photo Shoot

Doanes Falls is a section of Lawrence Brook which tumbles rambunctiously through a mountain gorge in Royalston Massachusetts. There are a total of 6 waterfalls with drops from 6 to 30 feet. It's a gorgeous gorge, lol.
The walls of the gorge are vertical in most places, sometimes exceeding 100 feet. The stream bed is replete with large boulders creating an endless display of mesmerizing currents, and at this time of year, the mist of the waterfalls thoroughly coats the local flora with thick ice.

I shoot this range during all 4 seasons, but am particularly fond of the arctic shoot because it poses greater challenges and yields unique beauty. The shoot is scheduled when certain conditions are met: a recent snowfall, temps below zero, and a sunny sky. Yesterday was such a day. My sons Dave and Matt joined me and we captured the intense arctic beauty of Doanes Falls as a family. Speaking of my sons, here they are preparing a smooth surface for the downstream shoot of the 6th falls.
Important safety notice: Kids, don't try this at home. And whatever you do, don't try this at Doanes Falls! (ain't i a riot?)

The only glitch in the planning was a case of geo/astro ignorance on my part. The gorge runs east-west and while the day was brilliantly sunny, none of that sun made it into the gorge because at this time of year, the sun is too low on the southern horizon. I was hoping to capture sparkling, glistening ice and water. Even so, the images are wonderful and I hope you enjoy the series.
I did have sunlight at the crest of the gorge and I think these photos demonstrate what I was trying to achieve. In all likelihood, I will do this gorge again in late January or early February when the sun is higher in the sky.

Our chronicle begins here, at the stone bridge over Chestnut Hill Road. This is the point where Lawrence Brook begins its tumble. There's lots of ice, enough snow, and the water flow is robust. This first cascade is a subtle double drop with the second cascade deflecting the stream immediately after it reaches the landing pool of the first drop.

50 yards or so downstream is the 2nd falls; a drop of about 8 feet, here shown with numerous chunks of ice collecting at the ledge.

Side view of the 2nd falls

The 3rd cascade is about 150 yards downstream. While there are numerous visually exciting aspects to this scene, my sons got a kick out of the "stack of pancakes" feature, and frankly, I find it a bit humorous myself. But I am completely fascinated at how Winter makes these cascades unrecognizable. This looks nothing like it does at other times of year. The large, flat black slate boulders over which the waters flow are inundated by ice. The flavor of the falls is different. It bears no resemblance to itself.

Another 50 yards downstream we arrive at the 4th falls which I call "The Bounce" for its closely spaced series of 7 steps and landings over which the brook flows like a child bouncing down a set of stairs on his butt. Each of the steps is a 12-18 inch drop so cumulatively the brook descends about 8 feet here.

50 yards further downstream is a most magnificent feature of the range which I call "The Race"; a natural curved and banked waterslide which begins with a 5-foot vertical drop, then a 50-yard steep banked slide over smooth rock face, interrupted midway by a thrill bump, and eventually ending in a sloped 8-foot drop into the landing pool. The Race itself descends about 20 feet, so the total drop through the feature is about 33 feet or so.
Here's a view from the top of The Race

And a view from the bottom.

A view of the initial drop into The Race. The first step is a doozy!

And at the end, a slam-dunk drop! What a ride!

Liquid Thunder in the Silent Mountain
The Grand Finale is grand indeed. The 6th and final falls is a wide, thunderous, 30-foot vertical drop over large intermediate boulders creating beautiful shower curtains and sending a mist into the air which thickly coats all the local trees with dense ice.

A closer peek at the final falls. Can you hear the thunder through the picture?

I love the way the snowy ledge partially conceals the falls in this shot.

A look straight down from the top. A bit intimidating, I assure you.

The Doanes region is noted for being a spectacular series of waterfalls. When not flying over cliffs, Lawrence Brook is a pretty mountain stream, and I trust these photos will convey that scenic truth.

That concludes the series on Doanes Falls. As sure as the sun will rise, I will enjoy many more sessions with this dynamic mountain stream.

The Falls at Bear's Den, Middle Branch Swift River, New Salem, MA

And now we shall have a look at each side of these falls independently; starting with the right side. Such a robust rush of clean white water passing by the rugged cliffs. There is no industry, neither are there any homes upstream (or downstream). This is as clean as water gets, and it's all being delivered to Lady Q.

A sweet downstream view.

Full length, left side. We can see here that while the river is split in two, the left side is again split in two, twice lol.

And since we zoomed in on Rightie, we must be fair and zoom in on Leftie also.

It is not possible to obtain a downstream view of the left side, so I climbed the mountain for this upstream view, looking down upon the falls.

Presenting . . . . . Rightie!
such a handsome scene, all that rushing white winter water surrounded by boulders partly protruding from the snow, the mountain ledge dotted with wintergreen conifers.

upon closer examination . . .

All Together now!

As it turns out, Rightie is highly photogenic from several angles with floral foregrounds.

A sweet view of Swiftie downstream a bit from the falls.
Fly Swiftie! Fly like the wind as you flow over the boulders in your path, and make your way to your eventual place of grandeur; the big lake of Quabbin Wilderness.

Slate Falls

A very curious little ice formation, created by runoff from the branch and water mists from the rushing stream below, which worked in unison to create "feet" at the base of the icicles. Mt. Grace - Warwick, Massachusetts.

Ice ornaments dangling from the Swift River shoreline.

. . . and more curious ice art along the banks of Swift River.

Which photo gallery of waterfalls would be complete without Niagara Falls? The pamphlet states that 300 million gallons of water per second drop over these falls, and when you stand next to it and observe the speed and volume, it seems quite reasonable an estimate.

The Canadian Falls has a nearly constant rainbow on sunny days which migrates with the wind, and on occasion, it drifts to the observation deck and you can touch it. On this particular day, there was a double rainbow . . . lucky me!

Zesty stream running down the eastern slope of Mount Grace, Warwick, Massachusetts.

Doanes Falls is a series of cascades along Lawrence Brook in Royalston, Massachusetts. Those who know me also know that this is one of my frequent hikes and I really can't say enough about this rugged and beautiful terrestrial feature. This is Lawrence Brook as viewed from the stone bridge looking east; a very tame, shallow brook. Now watch and be amazed at what it becomes.

On the other side of the stone bridge, Lawrence Brook immediately becomes a swift moving body of white water. These are the first 2 of 7 falls in the range, one right after the other, the first being a 6-foot plunge of singular stream; the second being a 4-foot plunge in a split stream. Quite the radical and sudden transformation of a placid little brook, wouldn't you agree?

Here's a side view of the first falls to help convey the steepness and velocity of the cascade.

The 3rd falls is a 10-foot plunge, twin streams slightly overlapping each other as they flow into the landing pool.

. . . and, a side view closeup of the 3rd falls.

The 4th falls are fantastic. They also happen to be perilously inaccessible so no pics. Anyway, here's the 5th falls; the one I call Handsome Falls. They are a broad series of water curtains flowing more gently over shiny slate.

The 6th falls is a feature I call The Race. It's actually two waterfalls connected by a 25-yard long natural water slide over relatively smooth rocks. The first drop is 4 feet, and the final plunge is 8 feet. The slide gradually drops about another 10 feet. A spectacular element of this range. Here's the downstream view of The Race.

Now here's the upstream view of The Race. Quite the drencher and quencher, isn't it!

The Grande Finale is grand indeed; a 30-foot thunderous plunge of split streams crashing into and bouncing over large intermediate boulders on their way to the landing pool.

An upstream shot of the first of 7 falls along Lawrence Brook in Royalston MA in the range known as Doanes Falls.

Many of the cascades are significant drops up to 30 feet, as depicted here in this shot of the 7th cascade, which I call "The Grandest Finale".

Another shot of the gorgeous gorge.

And another. Can you tell that I love this place?

There is a place here in the North Quabbin called Doanes Falls. This place is a ravine where Lawrence Brook tumbles over 6 dramatic waterfalls along 3/4 miles before it flows into Tully Lake. Normally, I present the waterfalls, but the brook itself, between the cascades, offers some lovely images, so this segment presents scenes along Lawrence Brook from deep within the Doanes Falls ravine.

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Anonymous said...

Waterfalls and its gushing waters are always refreshing to the soul and a treat to the eyes.

Thank you for this splendid visual treat !!

John said...

Holy Waterfalls!

I can't even believe how much of Doane's Falls you covered. That's incredible. I can only imagine you hanging on trees and leaning out to get some of those shots. Especially the winter ones!

Nice job and keep on shooting :)