Step into the past
A couple of years ago, when I first saw photos of Royalston Falls in Royalston, MA, I knew I had to go see them for myself. For the longest time I thought they were on the Tully river, but it turns out that the watercourse is actually Falls Brook. Original, huh? Hey, I didn’t name it. If I did it would probably be something like Amazing Time-traveling Waterway of Antiquity. Catchy, huh? I think I’ve posted shots of the falls before, but what the heck, they’re gorgeous so why not show them again?
A sign says that the drop is fifty feet. It goes straight down into a round gorge. Looking at it, you can imagine the other courses the water took to carve the whole thing. It literally inspires awe. You can’t help but go silent when you first see it. Even though the falls is the star of the show, the supporting cast is exciting, too. That would be Falls Brook itself. Well, maybe not exactly, but the way the water has shaped the rock it flows through is wondrous. It’s almost like you’ve gone to Middle Earth or something. Intriguing shapes and surprising formations are literally around every bend.
Primeval isn’t it? You can’t tell by looking at that one, but right there at the end of the shot…that big rock formation is actually an arch. An arch!! Over a brook in New Hampshire. Well, it might still be Massachusetts, the border is right around here. Just look. It’s fantastic. You should have heard me laughing the whole time I shot. I couldn’t help it. Joy just bubbles up in this place and it needs a place to go.
Isn’t that the coolest thing? I’ve walked a lot of brooks around here, but never saw one of these before. Other than getting into that pool (who knows how deep it really is), I couldn’t find a better way to shoot it, unfortunately. The water doesn’t flow under it strongly anymore, it’s carved a new route just on the other side of the rock. Now it just pools there, making a nice hangout for frogs, one of which was a few feet from me while I shot. Green frogs are so friendly.
The rock formations are incredible and the contortions the water goes through to flow are challenging to photograph. To the eye, many of them are imposing and mysterious, but they don’t necessarily translate to 2D. Some did though. Not only did I have to get the tripod into the water (and my feet), but I also had to move a really big branch out of this shot. Any bigger and I doubt I could have done it, but I did and it really helped focus the composition.
The whole place is tough to photograph, but absolutely engrossing to be in. Thinking about the thousands of years it took for the water to carve the gorges is pretty humbling. Geologic time just laughs at us biologicals. I did a lot of rock scrambling and wish I could have reached this one gargantuan boulder with a fantastic view of another amphitheater of rock. The falls are gone now, but you can imagine what they were like. Earthquakes even more powerful than the one the other day must have really changed things up over the millennia. I climbed on the other side of it on top of an outcrop like the ones below and just sat and listened to the water and thought about how ancient this waterway is. One of these days, when the light is more cooperative, I’ll have to find a way to shoot it. It’s pretty jaw-dropping.
It goes on and on like that. I only hiked a couple hours down there, but I think I’ll go back in winter. Maybe after the first snow if it’s just a light one.
Anyway, when I was done there, I decided to check out another set of falls which are truly gorgeous (and with bonus stone arch bridge), but like the Royalston Falls, they are barricaded and compositional choices are quite limited. I did a little exploring on the other side though and there’s good reason for the barricades and the re-routed trail. The gorge face is crumbling and collapsing. Even where it’s stable, its wicked steep. Impressive though.
Not the most autumnal images ever, but the magic of Falls Brook more than makes up for it.