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VT and NH Autumn Trip, Part 3

Time for Part 3! I had considered returning to Pine Mountain for sunrise in the morning, but I was tired and slept in. From there, I had a day of waterfalls along the northern slopes of Mount Madison planned. Leaving the bustling outdoor-oriented town of Gorham behind, where I had grabbed a quick breakfast, I headed to the overpopulated trailhead known as Appalachia, where many popular trails begin. Fortunately, it was early in the morning, and I was able to get a great parking spot. My plan for here was to head up the trails that ran along Snyder Brook, where a few named waterfalls are located.

Tama Falls

I met up with Snyder Brook upstream of Gordon Falls, so I decided I would save that one for the return trip. The first one I encountered going upstream is called Salroc Falls. This one is only barely worth being a named waterfall, and I found it rather un-photogenic. I did take a few shots, but nothing I was happy with. A short distance upstream, I came to the first really nice falls of the day, Tama Falls. This is a good-sized cascade down terraced rocks, curling around a corner before ending in a deep pool. I ended up with a perspective I haven't seen from here before, shooting the falls between a couple moss-covered boulders and trickling side stream in the foreground.

Snyder Brook

I continued following the trail that ran alongside the brook above Tama Falls. Eventually, the trail met up with Randolph Path, which crossed the brook. At this point, I ran into a problem with visiting further waterfalls upstream. Like an idiot, I had forgotten my White Mountains Trail Map at home at the start of this whole thing, and the network of trails in this particular area is very complex. I knew there were more waterfalls upstream, but I didn't know if I should have taken the left or right part of Randolph Path in order to stay near the brook. So I decided to end my hike at the crossing. Fortunately, the crossing proved to give me some great material. First I shot upstream, where some nice light was coming in through the Autumn leaves in the trees. The I turned and went downstream a little bit and found an impressive double-drop cascade. In all honesty, this was bigger than some of the named waterfalls I've visited in Massachusetts. The light was less impressive in that direction, but it was still quite a pretty scene.

Snyder Brook

I headed back downstream afterward, all the way to Gordon Falls. This is a really nice waterfall, but by the time I got here, harsh sunlight had arrived and I just couldn't get the shot I wanted anymore. I checked the time and decided that this was all I could afford for Snyder Brook. I had considered re-visiting Cold Brook Falls, which is not that far away from Snyder Brook, but my previous shot there was also killed by sunlight. From there I went to look for a pretty obscure one on my list, Rollo Falls.

Rollo Falls

I did not have high expectations for this one, and when I saw it I still didn't have high expectations for getting a good shot, but I ended up with one I was very happy with. This one was hard to find. I parked in a trail-head that appeared rarely used, and saw many Posted signs in the area. Not sure what to do, I began hiking back along an old rail bed that is now used for biking. After a while, I barely noticed a faint trail on the right side into the woods. I could easily have missed this and I was really lucky to see it. It cut through some woods and went out onto a wide trail full of high grasses, and it really looked like tick heaven to me. I was glad I had my waders on already. Eventually it cut under some power lines, and I saw what looked like an old logging path into the woods. The area sure had the look of private property, but I saw no signs here so I continued on. And after a short distance, there it was! I got my shot, and got out.

The rest of the day didn't work out so well. I checked into Sugarloaf Campground fairly early, and then went out for a couple quick afternoon spots on my list. There are two very long roadside cascades in Crawford Notch, known as Flume Cascade and Silver Cascade. I have had awful luck getting shots I am happy with at these, and this year proved no different. Silver Cascade is crowded with people every time. I have tried to get past the crowd by hiking up the cascade a little bit to where the biggest section of the falls is, but you really can't see much else from there. I think next time I try to tackle this one, I may bring a telephoto lens and try and compress it together. Flume Cascade doesn't have the crowd problem, but it has the same problem of being over such a long distance that you can't really see anything when you get up close. Again, I may have to try a telephoto here next time. Honestly, the foliage was not great at all, so there's another reason to go again anyway.

I hiked up to South Sugarloaf Mountain for the sunset, and while the mountain is a great hike with a fantastic view, the sunset fizzled out. I will definitely have to come back to this one.

- Justin Smith

VT and NH Autumn Trip, Part 2

Continuing from the previous post, I had gotten up the early morning of the third day and shot a dismal grey sunrise at Lake Willoughby. From here, I drove east, crossing into New Hampshire, and headed north to Colebrook. This small charming town just happens to sit next to one of the most stunning waterfalls in all of New England, Beaver Brook Falls. Of course, I'm setting you, the reader, up for disappointment, because the shot I got from there simply isn't good enough to offer on this site. A combination of factors, one of which being difficulty with sunlight at the wrong time of day, conspired to spoil my plans. In addition, the fall foliage was extremely undeveloped here anyway, so it looks like I have plenty of reason to return another time.

Dixville Notch

From there I headed south to Dixville Notch. While my primary interest in this notch was a pair of waterfalls, the notch itself was stunning with some of the best fall color I saw all trip. I had to make a few unplanned stops in order to photograph the scene.

Dixville Notch

From there I headed just south to seek out two waterfalls: Dixville Flume and Huntingdon Cascades. Sadly, the sun was bright overhead, and this was enough to prevent me from getting a shot I'm completely satisfied with of Dixville Flume. In the case of Huntingdon Cascades, I went through a lot of effort to get the angle I wanted, only to find out later I had messed up the focus on that one. A very boneheaded move, to be sure. I'll be putting both of these waterfalls on the revisit list.

After that, I found myself rather short on time. I had ended up spending much more time than I expected shooting the notch. I was planning to make a trip into logging country for Garfield Falls, but I concluded I no longer had sufficient time. Begrudgingly, I set out south for Gorham, which is one of the major hiking towns of the White Mountains, and then just south for Dolly Copp Campground. I arrived in plenty of time to give it a go for my last destination planned for that evening, a hike up Pine Mountain for sunset.

Pine Mountain Sunset

Truthfully, I didn't have a lot of expectations for this sunset. The forecast wasn't calling for anything spectacular. Boy was I wrong! It turned out to be one of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever photographed. The dramatic light wrapped around the horizon 360 degrees. After I was done, I had a steep hike down an unfamiliar trail in the dark, and then a long relatively flat hike back to my truck during a time of the year when male moose are very dangerous to encounter. I was by myself and pretty nervous the more I thought about it, but nothing happened and I was soon back to my campsite for the night.

Day 4 to come in the near future!

- Justin Smith

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