Archive for the 'Winter' category
It’s interesting how differently areas that are so close together, can be so different in the Park. Since the big floods in 2013, I’ve visited three falls in this corner of the Park, McGregor Falls, West Creek Falls, and this weekend, Bridal Veil Falls. Approaching both McGregor and West Creek Falls, the valleys were scoured from the floods. Great piles of stones and boulders littered the stream bed. Trees were ripped up from their roots and snapped like matchsticks. Since those two hikes bracket the approach to Bridal Veil Falls, and are under a mile as the clouds fly, I expected the same.
But it was as if there had been no floods. No sign at all of the damage that is still being repaired elsewhere. The river bed was the same overgrown groves of aspen and pine. Cow Creek still wove its way around boulders from pool to pool, hiding itself under mounds of snow and ice. A remnant of what was just months ago, and a reminder that the floods may damage, but that damage is part of the process and doesn’t even act evenly.
A long weekend would be wasted had I not gotten to at least one falls. While I avoided that waste, I fear the pictures I took only partially represent West Creek Falls in its winter garb.
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Last weekend, some friends and I took advantage of an unseasonably warm January day to hike up to McGregor Falls. It was the first time I’d been back to this part of the park in a while, certainly since the September floods that had cut off access to so much of the front range for so long. As the trail neared Cow Creek, I started to consider the serious possibility that this project might have to be renamed.
I was archiving photos from this project, a task that is getting more and more out of control, and discovered three photosets that I hadn’t ever gotten around to posting. So, while I’m planning my next assault on the Park, I’m going to play catch up and post these year old shots.
Contrary to appearances on this website, I haven’t abandoned this project. There have been a lot of changes and distractions in life since the beginning of the year, which has made trips to the Park to visit the waterfalls a lower priority than anticipated. But the project lives on! I have three new sets of waterfall photographs from mid-February (including this one) ready to post. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless.
The long cold winter is nearly over. The 31 Falls project is also coming out of it’s long cold winter. The project is not dead, despite every appearance. The project simply went on hiatus due to the overwhelming requirements of teaching. Now that the semester is over, my students have all passed, and I no longer have to spend every weekend preparing lectures, the seasonal examination of the falls has begun anew.
One left over batch of photos from a midwinter trip to Alberta Falls that have been sitting in the hopper for the last couple months is all that remains before the beginning of the spring run offs. Stay tuned for another change of seasons and 31Falls in full flood.
Another return visit two seasons after the first. Another completely transformed scene. About a month ago a strong windstorm roared through the Front Range. Walking up the trail from Copeland Falls, the remnants of the storm were everywhere. Every few hundred feet, another tree lay across the trail, though for most of distance to Calypso the rangers had done a good job of clearing a path with chainsaws. Nearer to Calypso, however, the chainsaws hadn’t yet reached and walking became reminiscent of early video games where there was a near constant decision to be made whether to duck under the next massive tree trunk that slanted across the trail or to climb over it. Having spent the night of the wind storm at my bedroom window watching tree after tree fall across my own small property, I can’t imagine the noise, and associated terror, of this forest in the storm with trees crashing to the ground, either ripping up their root balls or snapping off in a jagged shower of splinters.
At Calypso Cascades itself, there didn’t seem to be any new tree trunks added to the chaos of the creek. The pillows of snow over rocks and trees almost completely hid the cascades, leaving only a small window of water edged in clear ice. In the silence of the snow-covered forest, though, the cascades could still be heard, rumbling under foot like the distance sound of a laden freight train. As I clambered around trying to find some view that captured the winter aspect of Calypso, I was excruciatingly aware of the stream that coursed icily beneath my feet and the potential discomfort of a long wet walk back to the trailhead.
I made the first return visit to a waterfall today, starting with the same three that I did back in August. Just as I’d hoped, the changing seasons had completely changed the personality of the falls. In the summer, Copeland Falls were riotous flows of water over granite boulders and swarmed with tourists. Today, I could only find one of the drops from the summer and it was, of course, covered with snow and ice.
Today’s visit to the falls brought to the fore a flaw in my project. While the calendar says we have another week and a half of ‘Autumn’ the falls I visited today have certainly jumped seasons into Winter. I might have to reimagine this project to allow for what seasons are really like in the high mountains of Colorado.
A great advantage to the winter snows and ice that encased and covered the falls is that it allows whole new perspectives for photography. Where three months ago I fell into a deep pool while trying to shoot a unique angle, today there is a snow bridge across the river that held my weight.