Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mystery of the Elusive Waterfall: A Frank March Adventure

Frank March awoke once again determined to find the elusive waterfall, if it indeed did exist. So far it had the makings of a myth, although it made no sense that the trail map would entice people with a nonexistent marking, let alone a picture of a cataract right in the middle of the thing. Look at that representation with those rippling waters and golden fall colors; why wouldn't you want to find it?

And there on the right, just over that red line that shows the boundary between Delaware and Pennsylvania, is the word "waterfall".

Yet after several days searching, Frank had failed to find it. He had wandered up the long hill in the hot rays of this summer's sun (if there was any brownish hues around the elusive waterfall this time of year they would be the cooked and dry leaves wilting in the heat wave).

At least at the top, pausing to regain his breath, he could look out across the valley and see the stone tower that had once been a mystery to him  and further along, the great castle on the hill. (The tower is visible on the upper left corner and the castle just right of the upper center.) But he had solved The Mystery of the Stone Tower, so these were no longer of interest. No, now it was the waterfall he sought.

He had tried many of the trails up atop this hill and seen the wondrous sights of the Woodlawn fields, the horses and the corn, but not the cascade. On his last attempt he had wandered along the upper rim of the mount through the woods, teetering on the edge of a gorge along a narrow path and discovered another mystery, which will probably remain unsolved, The memorial to Bud's Billy Goat.

Here deep in the woods sat the broken remains of a tree, some stones piled at its base and upon a notch near its top. Carved and painted into the base the words, "Bud's Billy Goat".  At the top of the object was this, a bicyclist and dates. Is this a grave of some fellow's beloved pet goat? If so, this goat lived almost as long as this Old Goat, for it would have died at 67.

Or did Bud crash his mountain bike on this site, a vehicle he called, Billy Goat? But that would have been an ancient bike. Did they even have mountain bikes in 1943?

At any rate, this did not lead Frank to any waterfall on that day.

He had asked a few he met upon the trails during his searches if they knew where the waterfall might be. No one he asked even knew there was a waterfall. Was there a waterfall? It was on the trail map. There was also the story told by a friend, about pausing from a bike ride by a waterfall and quite pond on a hot day, of being temped by the water and finally giving in to the lure and engaging in some skinny-dipping. In this he was suddenly approached by a teacher and young children on a field trip and kept submerged until they finally left and he could slip out and back into his clothes.

On top of that Frank stumbled on an actual picture of the alleged waterfall on some strangers Blog.

So it was Frank studied the trail map and tried hard to coordinate it with the satellite Google image of the area. He determined it was down a path he had eschewed on his very first hike up these hills thinking this trail simply went down into someone's backyard. Now he was convinced otherwise. Thus this morning he set off to find his goal.

He had a sudden influx of working hours and this would be his only free day this week, so despite a threat of rain he headed off, but this was an advantage. After weeks of extreme heat, he would be able to go up the long, steep hill without the beat of the sun. It was cooler today as well. He traipsed with a plan, up that hill, through the woods, down around and by the horse pastures that would bring him to the path he had never walked. Now he did, down its rutted stony way, just to the right of the house below and came to the road.

It was the spot he had noted, where Beaver Valley Road made an odd almost-U-turn off to the right into Pennsylvania while what one would think was its continuation more or less straight ahead became Beaver Dam Road. That name sounded promising, Beaver Dam, for often dams create waterfalls, unless this was an actually Beaver dam made of gnawed down saplings.

Frank crossed the road and on the other side found a trail going up another hill. He went up and up and up, on a wide track edging the woods. Once further up he spied a narrow trail to his right, which entered the forest in what seemed a promising direction.

Suddenly there was a thrashing of brush nearby and a deer ran across the path startling him. It trotted between the trees and then stood stock still between two trunks. It was amazing how an animal of its size could almost become invisible simply by standing quiet. If Frank had not seen where it had run he would not have noticed it at all. It appears in this photo as only a light patch of brown between some trees near the center.

As a boy one of Frank's favorite things in the children's magazines he got, "Jack 'n' Jill" or "Highlights" or whatever it was, were these little photos with a caption: "There are 15 animals hiding in this woods, can you find them all?" This deer was playing that game with Frank today.

There had been a light rain when he started on his trek, now he could tell it was picking up. He could hear the drops increase. The leaf cover was affording him some protection, but he knew much of his way back to his car would be open ground and he would get wet. He hurried on his way.

Now the path curved downward and entered a groove of semi-mud, more a dry wash than a trail. He had to straddle it, walk with one foot on the right bank and the other on the left bank. As he shuffled along there was a loud creaking to his right, then a sustained and violent crash as a large tree gave up the ghost and tumbled over in a dead faint to the forest floor. You see many a tumbled trees about these grounds, but this was a new addition to the corpses arriving a bit too close and fresh for comfort.

Frank continued down the rut, twisting this way and that and then he was at the bank of a stream and across it was a road. He had no intension of backtracking up that woodland trail, but how to get across to the road was the next question. The path came to the water's edge at a rapids. There was no other access across and this one was tenuous, wide spaced wet rocks in bubbling water.  Well, nothing to do but risk it.

Frank made it across without so much as a wet shoe, but now what. There was no sign of any waterfall anywhere and he didn't know exactly where he was. He decided to go to his right down this road, following the flow of the stream, hoping it would take him to the Brandywine.

He walked a ways. On the other side of the road, where a hill of forest rose above him, he saw a trail, but not certain where he was he decided not to chance getting lost in a strange woods for some length of time. He continued along the road.

Then, there it was, behind some large rocks, the elusive waterfall. He had stumbled upon it quite by accident. As he stood admiring the dancing waters, he realized all he would had to have done was walk along this road where he had initially crossed and he would have come to this. The hike up the mount and through the dark wood and down the rut was unnecessary. But then where would have been the adventure in walking down a road? He would have missed the deer and not heard the falling tree missing him. Ah, much more fun this way.

He rather doubted this was the waterfall his friend had swum by, though. There was some still water above you could call a pond he supposed, and certainly it was deep enough to swim in, but would one dare skinny-dip so near a public road?

It also brought his mind back to the rain or now lack of it. If it had rained hard, he wondered, how long would his white running shorts have remained  opaque. Hmm, that was a consideration to spur him to move on and see if he could find his way back to his car.

He walked further on and finally came to the little park by the Brandywine. Now he knew exactly where he was and it was still a bit to where he had parked, but that was fine. He ambled beside the lovely creek enjoying the briskness of the morn and happy he had found his waterfall at last, when...

What was that white thing across the water? Could it be the Heron he had seen before?

Wouldn't you know it. He had forsaken wearing his glasses today because of the light rain. The drops would have simply clouded his vision, he reasoned. Besides, he has fairly good vision without the specs; however, not quite good enough to focus well on whatever was sticking up over there.

If only it would move, but it did not. Ah, well, another mystery.

(Turn off my music before watching this short film.)

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