Wednesday, October 14, 2009

(Back) With the Photographer!

The title of this post is borrowed (shamelessly) from Stephen Leacock. But the experience recorded here bears a sharp contrast to the trauma Leacock goes through in his hilarious short story.

I'm back on the East Coast! Naturally, Arun and I wasted no time before beginning to travel together again. Even as
we drove out of the airport, we got busy discussing must-visit places to catch Fall colors. After 4 long months of living on different coasts, we were both extremely excited as we decided to hike the 4 mile Falls Trail in Ricketts Glen State Park, 2 hours North of Philadelphia. The drive up there was a riot of colors in itself. Every bend in the road held a new hue, surprises galore for the eye! Burning red, sunset orange, yellow turning to brown and splotches of green, even pink at times. We loved it as we sped through mile after variegated mile.

We got there a little after noon and we set off on the hike. Within minutes we came to the first of the 22 water falls that dotted the trail. And the photographer took over. I stood there watching Arun go crazy with his camera and tripod, trying his damnedest to fit everything- the cascading falls, the shiny rocks and the bursting color, into his camera's display. We spent 15-30 minutes at each Waterfall. I must admit it was well worth it, going by some of the pictures he managed to click.

The flip side is that we took over 4 hours to do the 4 mile hike. The overcast sky did not prevent people from arriving at the trail in large numbers. It was the first time we've ever hiked in a line, behind unknown people. Maybe everyone trusts when it predicts no rain, even more than they fear the hanging gray clouds. Maybe everyone wanted to get their share of Fall colors before the trees go bald. Whatever be the case, in hindsight, it was a great idea to pack cheese sandwiches and fruits, which we ate sitting at the foot of Ganoga Falls, the tallest one on the trail. Carrying the food gave us the luxury of lingering around at every stop, waiting for the throngs of people
and their dogs to clear away after taking their gazillion group photographs. Many of them with the camera flash on, in broad daylight.

We walked the last mile back to the car totally satisfied, playfully trying to trip each other while it sank in that this was only the first of many such trips to come. This blog will see a lot more action from now on.

Watch out for the travelogue from our Vermont and New Hampshire trip this upcoming weekend.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fall colors turn into waterfalls!

Having just a week left for the parents to leave the country, I wanted them to experience the 'fall foliage' that Autumn season offers in this part of the country. We drove to Delaware water gap area in Pennsylvania last weekend. The day was gloomy from the get-go, after some initial contemplations, I decided to go on the trip anyways. It was drizzling all through-out with sporadic spells of rain, but the rain Gods showed mercy a few times in the day and we made full use of it.

I had planned to visit a few of the allegedly 'most beautiful, yet less frequented' waterfalls in Pennsylvania. Our first destination was a town called Dingmans Ferry in Delaware water gap recreational area). Google suggested that there are quite a few waterfalls in the area and I thought I'll start by visiting the Visitor center and then chart my plans there-after. But my hunt for the visitor center wasn't hugely successful. In the address google maps suggested, was an old house with a huge garage. That can't be the visitor center, I said to myself.

I saw a local guy trying to take his car out and I enquired him about the waterfalls in the area. With his expert guidance, I started with George w. Child state park which boasted multiple miles of hikes with some pretty decent waterfalls. There was a nice boardwalk in most places too.

We did about a mile hike and saw Factory falls and Fulmer falls. Factory falls, in my opinion is one of the most beautiful falls I have ever seen. With its multiple branches, the falls was certainly a beauty to watch. Fulmer falls was huge and hosted a very natural unperturbed setting to itself. We viewed Fulmer falls, once from the top and then from the bottom as well.

Factory Falls

Fulmer Falls (Top view)

Fulmer Falls (Bottom view)

After lunch, we went to Raymondskill falls, which was about 10 miles drive from the Child's park. Raymondskill falls is also a mile hike off the highway. The information board mentioned about the upper, middle and a lower falls. In a few minutes, we were on our hike. The upper falls seemed small, wide and very normal-looking, until I took a long exposure photograph. In my first shot, I saw a nice looking circle formed by the foam off the falls. I quickly increased my exposure, made some quick settings changes and took the below picture, where the circle is clearly seen:

Raymondskill Falls (upper falls)

It made me wonder how many such beautiful scenes Nature offers that we miss to see.

We then continued to the Middle falls, which is the tallest waterfall in the state, and only 4 feet shorter than Niagara falls. The rain got a little stronger and the falls itself, continuously sprayed so much of water in the area, making it very difficult to take one good picture. I had to soft-wipe my camera lens almost once every shot, let alone attempting to change lenses.

Raymondskill Falls (Middle falls)

Though the original intent of the trip was to see the Autumn color changes, I ended up concentrating on waterfalls more than than the fall colors. But my parents showed some real spirit, hiking enthusiastically and exhibiting utmost patience (every time I setup my tripod and take my own sweet time to click pictures). It was a day well spent. They enjoyed the trip and so did I!

Ciao, till the next travelogue!