Posted by: jsmcfadden | July 14, 2011

Brandywine Falls

So, on the way back to Vancouver, then Seattle and Portland after Whistler, we decided to stop at Brandywine Provincial Park to see the falls.

After a brief walk from the parking lot over to the river, past the information kiosk that told us about the river and the engineers who mapped and measured it, we crossed the river on a nice footbridge.

The brief walk to the viewing point was pleasant, not difficult or steep, on a wide cleared path, nicely maintained and usable for biking as well as walking, as evidenced by the couple groups of young cyclists who went past us. We walked in silence, meeting only a family or two returning to the parking lot. There’s a photo of the path in a bit.

Off to the left of us was the rest of the mountain, I guess, sometimes hidden in the forest, and other times opening up so we could see these rocks that looked as if they wanted to tumble down into the water on the other side of us.

How long, I wondered, had it been since they had slid and rumbled, powered down under the pull of gravity until something made them stop?

I was glad not to be in their way.

Then the river was on our right side for a ways.  

The channel looked 4-5 feet deep, but the cold water was moving fast.

The cliches of running or racing don’t seem to hold the power that was most striking to me.

The water was being pulled, pulled hard by an irresistable force, down the channel. The water looked thick — not full of sediment or cloudy, but thick like heavy lead crystal, weighty.

The tall conifers were on either side of us, then, as the path moved off a bit from the river, or maybe it’s just that the river’s path changed.

After a curve in the path, we saw a warning sign that parents ought to watch their children.

We crossed a startling set of railroad tracks, still in use, evidently,  for we saw a town name sign and a km sign the other direction. 

A sudden sight of the far mountains, still with snow on them, was amazing. So was walking across train tracks in the middle of the forested mountains.

Not at all reminiscent of our other near-track experience at the Davis train station at first thought.

But then I connected the amazing mountains between Sacramento and Reno and the deep winter snow back there and then with these amazing mountains here and now. Oddly, I felt  at home.

We walked through the forest a little longer to a strange ruin, an abandoned Lincoln Logs project, I thought.

Had it been a shelter for long-distance hikers who needed to get in from the snow for the night? Except for the fact that it was sideways and maybe upside-down, it looked snug, was probably cozy.

Except that it was upside-down …

Finally we came to the viewing spot, a platform off toward the river, far over the river,  but nicely railed to protect us  from the drop to the stream bed.

The death-drop to the river bed.

70 meters from lip to splash, according to the information sign that pointed us toward the viewpoint.

It amazed me that someone measured it. 

The width of the river there was 10 or 12 feet, and then the wild drop into the gorge. The cold mist reminded me of the mist off the glacier when we canoed across the lake.

I kept staring at the lip, almost feeling dizzy as I imagined the pull of gravity on the water and the crash at the bottom of the falls. You can see the power of the water pushing, pressing toward the drop.

Here’s the lip, again, closer. 

I felt glad then for the long rainy season we’d had this spring, glad for the big river we could see here.

We just stood and looked and took picture after picture of the water and the cavern, dozens of them just the same, most likely. We were just mesmerized by the drop and the sound and the mist.

Off to the right of the lip was the other side of the gorge, but the mountain looked as if it had been carved and chipped out, hundreds of feet above the stream below. Had this river done that, long ago — carved out the cavern of the solid rock? See the gravel, where it stopped sliding down into the gorge?

I kept looking more and more often to the left of the falls, to the cavern’s broadening out, rather than at the falling water. I began to wonder if the ground under us did the same thing.

Were we standing on an illusion of stability connected to just 5 feet of rock stretched out, hanging over a hundred-foot drop?

Made me nervous, so I skedaddled back to the wide path on the solid ground, far from the cliffs of the river gorge. The sign said there was another viewpoint just ahead awhile.

This short walk, then, offered various glimpses of the river far below, in the gorge after the falls, as it went its way, still fast, but different here on this side of the falls: shallow, whipping rapids rather than a deep gorge of person-high throttling-toward-the-precipitous-drop river.
At last the whole wide valley opened up, straight to Daisy Lake. The broad opening let in not only more light for a tremendous view, but also a very chilly wind that  hit me right in the face.

I headed back to the information kiosk and the car.


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