Last Saturday, in the final moments of ordinary weather leading up to Irene’s arrival, I took some time to enjoy the Falling Waters Trail in Franconia Notch. On Sunday, I hunkered down all day during the storm, and after seeing what Irene unleashed in my own front yard I simply could not resist a return trip to Falling Waters. I tried imagining what 13 inches of rain in one day’s time would do to the falls, and I was nothing short of astounded at what I found upon my return.
I made my way onto the trail bright and early today, arriving just as the White Mountain National Forest reopened after closing at 6pm on Saturday. I have been on this trail many times, and I know it well. As I walked along the familiar grounds dodging the usual roots and rocks, I enjoyed big breaths of cool morning air and the aroma of fresh spruce. After about one tenth of a mile, however, any semblance of familiarity disappeared and water was the obvious culprit. The landscape had been transformed, or rather, demolished, with uncompromising force. The Walker and Dry Brooks had clearly joined forces in their race from Irene, and they had surged through a space that was simply too small for their amalgamation. In places, an excess of two feet had been carved out of the existing trail. Roots were emergent from both sides of the trail, and boulders the size of dormitory refrigerators were strewn about.
I lumbered through the new landscape trying to conceptualize the force that caused this damage. There was no doubt in my mind that if anyone had been here during Irene, they would have met an ultimate sort of fate. A juggernaut was here.
Below are four pictures, taken of the same falls from my August 27th blogpost (link will open in new window for side-by-side comparision). The differences in the look and feel of the photos, when compared to their pre-Irene counterparts, is incredible. Keep in mind that these are not carbon-copy photos, but are instead similar compositions that lend themselves to an exhibition of the changes.
Additionally, a short video composition is available on my YouTube Channel. Stop over and have a look if you wish to see this incredible amount of water in motion; in High-Def!
I’ll end with a tip of the hat to the US Forestry Services for announcing the day-and-a-half long closure of the White Mountain National Forest. After seeing the destruction on the trail, there is no doubt in my mind that lives were saved as a result of this precaution.
Until next time, happy trails and do take care!