Thursday, December 30, 2010

Frozen forest & waterfalls

Crabtree Falls, in the George Washington National Forest, is the tallest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi and is one of the "hot spots" in popularity for hikes in VA.

Ash and I have tried to pick the less trodden locations to explore when we have planned trips in the past, but we were looking for a close day hike for Christmas break. Our logic was there would be considerably less folks out in December after a major snow storm rolled through the area.

So going on a close friend's recommendation we decided to check out Crabtree Falls.

The hike for the falls trail is approximately 1.7 miles up and back.

Another curious thing about Crabtree Falls is that it's considered to be one the most dangerous waterfalls in the country with 27 deaths including 2 this year.

Almost all of the deaths were contributed to people leaving the trail and falling from the rocks which are covered with a clear super slick algae.

The cool thing about water falls and freezing temperatures is that you get some pretty wild formations of ice and snow which contrast with the crystal clear fast moving water.

 The ice created multi-colored hues of blues and grays mixed with brilliant whites.

The path leading up to the top of the falls is groomed and maintained to a point that Ash & I felt like we were at a theme park instead of a national forest which is a testament to how many visitors the falls attract.   

That being said, several sections of the trail were rendered nearly impassible by large areas of ice flow.  

{Looking down on an ice covered section of stairs on the trail}

Crabtree was perfect for a day trip, and the winter season was a great time for me as I tend to shy away from crowds and regularly take measures to avoid them. 

For me the tragedies that permeate the history of the falls tend to overshadow the beauty the location has to offer.

As I gazed at the frozen falls I couldn't help but think about the young lives that have been lost over the simplicity of trying to get a "closer look" or were the result of a good natured dare.

Because of  my background I have spent a significant amount of time thinking about and researching the concepts of risk vs chance.

Crabtree falls serves as a tangible reminder of knowing the difference between the two.