Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Finger Lakes - Mission Waterfalls!

Spring season, New camera, Free weekend, Conducive weather, Right company: the best possible thing one could do on earth is to drive to upstate New york and take pictures of waterfalls. We did exactly that.

After brooding over the loss of my previous camera for exactly 27 hours, I ordered my new camera. I got it shipped mid of last week and immediately jotted down plans to visit Finger lakes region of New York state. Kavitha did all the planning and this time, one of my very good friends and a photo enthusiast, Amar joined us from Boston. This weekend trip was one hell of a mix of adventure, excitement, angst and also a few 'near-death' experiences.

Our first destination being Filmore Glen State Park, we started with heightened enthusiasm. Surprisingly and more shockingly, some of their trails were still closed for Winter (surprising because their websites said nothing about it and shocking because it's gonna be summer very soon). We took pictures of the only waterfalls that was accessible (by crossing the 'DO NOT CROSS' fencewires). The waterfalls was good, but the downside was some women who were sun-bathing on the rocks. We had to make sure they were not in the frame (not that they seemed to care, but we somehow did not want to include bikini-clad women in nature photography. Maybe some other time!).

Our next destination was Carpenter falls, which involved an 'Open to all, mildly difficult and extremely hazardous' hiking trail to reach the falls (so said the welcome sign board). After parking our car on the roadside parking area, we set off on the hike which in the beginning seemed very easy. In a few minutes, we saw the falls but the place was not favourable to set our tripods nor the view was too good. So, after a short contemplation, we decided to climb down what looked like a steep slide, with rolling stones and slippery rocks.

Kavitha had sneakers which had the smoothest of the soles (I found it hard to believe it must had sole buttons once upon a time. There were absolutely no signs!). Nevertheless, she decided to stay atop letting myself and Amar climb down.

With bags and tripod, I should say it was not easiest of the hikes. We strategically invented routes, took assistance from tree roots, twigs, rocks, even firm mud and finally reached the stream. The view was good. But not too good. We knew we had to cross the stream to get a better view. So we did. The water was almost at freezing temperature and we somehow managed to use the dead logs and rocks to cross the stream. The view was much better.

Carpenter Falls

There we were, in one of the most untamed lands, setting our tripods, clicking away pictures to glory. Myself and Amar liked it very much. Rain Gods, not so much. In a few minutes, it started drizzling.

We instantly knew we were not in the right place to fight rain and started packing. By the time we crossed the stream, it started raining big time. We still had the steep slope to climb. With not much of flowing water in the slopes, I managed to reach the top using the support of tree branches, roots and rocks. With the enthusiasm of reaching the top, I started running towards the parking area, when I realised Amar was not with me. I looked back, only to find him struggling to climb up the slippery mud trail with two hands and two legs.

Amar was using his tripod as a holding stick, smartly locking it on a tree root preventing him to slide down further. I held a tree stem tight with one hand and lend my other hands slowly. It was one movie-climax moment when our hands touched (would have been better with slow-motion and background music!) and I helped him to lift himself slowly, yet steadily.

The rain was pouring by then. We walked to the car drenching wet, to find Kavitha listening to music in the cozy confines of the Prius. In sign-language, she told me that I looked like a wet goat. Awesome. The rain stopped in about 20 mins. We strolled around, dried ourselves and continued the drive.

Next day was not as adventurous, but more beautiful nevertheless. We drove to Letchworth state park, which in my opinion had some of the largest waterfalls I have everseen (only next to Niagara). We did a mild hike along the river stream, took satisfying pictures and spent about 3 hours there.

Letchworth State Park - Inspiration Point

Letchworth Lower Falls

Letchworth Small falls

Our next stop was Taughannock falls and we reached on time before dusk. Amar felt (and insisted that we agree) that it's the most beautiful waterfall in the whole world. After taking pictures of the falls from one of the vista points, we hiked a mile down to see the falls upclose. I had to agree with Amar at that point - it was a fantastic waterfall.

Taughannock Falls, as seen from Vista point

An hour and a few pictures later, we left the place, stopped for coffee at a gas station and drove away on our respective ways.

I just could not forget the jubilance of being in that 'high-five moment' with Amar after we ompleted the hike at Carpenter falls!

Wide Angle picture taken by Amar

There is indeed nothing better in this world than traveling!

P.S: More photos at www.flickr.com/photos/arunsundar


Nandini Vishwanath said...

Wow, that must have been fun man! :)

And - you surely have disappointed some people by not taking pics of the bikini clad women ;)

Amar said...

It was one hell of an experience and i think its the best we ever did after starting photography. Well, i have to appreciate Kavitha and yourself about choosing the places.

maxdavinci said...

listen to what nandini says!

SK said...

>>There is indeed nothing better in this world than traveling!

Amen to that!
Btw have enjoyed all the travelogues in this space!

Ela said...

looks cool! u know... u can counterbalance bikini clad women with bikini(?!)donning guys! then ethically it will become right!

narendra shenoy said...


Kappu said...

//It was one movie-climax moment when our hands touched (would have been better with slow-motion and background music!)//

Lol, I can almost imagine it! :) great write, great pics and hope your (then) new camera was fine!

Kappu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.