Last sortie into the White Mountains at the magical Lost River Gorge and Caves easy access reserve. Roots make impossible overground journeys to provide trees with grounding and nutrients, water cascades down tunnels to erupt in beautiful waterfalls, boulders conceal caves, crevasses.
First Walk in the Mountains
Enchanted Place, Delightful Company
It seemed like an easy one to start with, get re-accustomed to the idea of mountains… The name was intriguing – Sabbaday Falls. Signs on the trail explained that “One Saturday night, with winter rapidly approaching, workmen building a road from Albany Intervale to Waterville decided it was time to call it quits. They hid their tools, planning to return the following spring. Before leaving on Sunday morning, they named the brook Sabbaday Brook for the Sabbath day, or “Sabbaday”. The workers never returned to complete the road, but the name had endured.”
There was nobody in the parking, except for an elderly couple who were on their way to leave. I asked them about the trail. According to my map, it was a loop, but the map on the sign showed otherwise. They verified that it was indeed a loop, and told me they were deliberating whether to walk it again, having already walked it several times in the past. Perhaps my Israeli identity had motivated them to reconsider and join me.
There’s something auspicious about meeting fellow Jews in a place called Sabbaday. The trail proved to be a great introduction to the White Mountains. You can take your time to enjoy, photograph and get a feel for the place.
It was beautiful and inspiring to watch the deep caring way a loving couple, who spent a lifetime together through rain and shine, radiated.
He shared about his life in America as a scientist, and I shared my own stories of academia. We both also had a passion for photography.
In the winter, snows accumulate to 1.5 meters, the Sabbaday Falls freeze over and create icicles, but there is always some water flowing below.
Due to the climate change, this year was dry. I explained that in Israel such a water flow is always appreciated. They showed me how high the water reach after the snows melt in spring. Now they live in the country in Connecticut, but were familiar with the White Mountains through and through… I felt physically (and intellectually) incompetent compared to these people, many years my seniors…
The falls crashed on granite, then flowed through a basaltic dyke, dissolving the rock over geological time. The dykes in the Sabbaday Falls area were created 200 million years ago, when molten magma flowed through cracks in the granite bedrock. Areas of contact between the two types of rock are especially weak and liable to wear. The basalt, being porous, breaks down more easily than the granite. Strong geological movements uplifted some of those rocks, exposing them to surface erosion processes. The glacial melt that got into full swing 10,000 years ago, carrying with it sand, gravel and large boulders, diggind down this gorge and others in the area.
Amazingly, although the process had its beginnings about 100,000 years ago, the melting glacier eroded 60 feet of rock in the last 10,000 years alone. The result was that gorgeous gorge, through which we can now see the water falling. This is a super-fast track for geological processes, even for surface processes. It shows what powers were and are still playing here on the basic physical-chemical levels.
Other earth movements created faults, one of which broke the basalt dyke into two sections, resulting in a sharp turn in the flow of the stream. More on geology here.
The walk itself was first upstream, then back down among wonderful cliffs. We all used our sticks, but it was easy.
I love watching the ways in which trees grow and integrate in and with rock. In addition to the spring meltwater, rain and ice, tree roots and other flora, like lichen, erode the rocks and contribute to the deepening of the gorge.
In Israel, there was no glacial history, but floodwater, wind and plants, as well as daily temperature fluctuations, combine to crack the rocks in the desert. Water, wind and an occasional ice are strong eroding agents. Desert erosion manifests sometimes in very interesting forms like mushrooms and arches, as well as large gorges and craters like the Ramon.
The three of us posed for each other’s pictures. If all people were that nice, we would all be living in Paradise Now.
This is actually a good exemplar of Paradise, no apples, no snakes….
When we got back to the cars, the couple volunteered to show me trails and locations on topographic maps they had of the area (those are sold at the visitor’s center for 8 and 10$). They gave me recommendations and explanations. There is a system here where you leave money in an envelope at the trailhead and drop it into a metal column with an appropriate slot. You fill in your details and the car’s details on the envelope.
I gave them my phone, but they did not call me back or, if they did, I did not receive it with my connectivity problems.
Bless their hearts.
The next day I got a bit braver and challenged myself to the recommended Boulder Loop Trail.