Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Photos: A Bash Bish Fall

You can't get much more Western Massachusetts than Mount Washington and you won't find any "single drop" waterfall in the Commonwealth higher than Bash Bish Falls once you get there. The Berkshires are an obvious draw for local and tourist alike on their annual fall foliage pilgrimage to pay homage at the altar of brilliant and natural color. The magnificence of an Autumn New England makes visitors wistful and natives' spirits soar. When our friends and neighbors say things like: "I'd like to move to a warmer climate...but I would miss the seasons," they are undoubtedly referring to the third season of the year, when surf and sand, magic and mystery, and snow and silence collide.

I've taken Route 23 west out to Bash Bish Falls State Park the two times I've visited, my latest visit this past Sunday, which turned out to be a beautiful day for leaf peeping. What was nicer is that my brother drove, allowing me to..well, I can't say relax, because of his driving habits...but at least look around more than I would normally get to do had I been behind the wheel myself. Maybe my eyes wide with terror helped soak more of the scenery in, who knows? (Just kidding, bro'!) What is scarier upon reflection is the realization that now, traveling the same roads we used to barrel down and around on our way to party in the western woods as youngsters, we pull over to let the faster traffic pass, and it is normal and certainly prudent. We are no longer the muscle car pushing from behind, but the sedan out for a Sunday drive. We have reached the Autumn of our years. Ah, melancholy.

For more information about and directions to Bash Bish Falls State Park, check out the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation's (DCR) web page at:

Here are some photos of last Sunday's excursion.

The rocky bed of Bash Bish Brook is canopied by October trees below the Falls. The brook is fed by Wright and City Brooks to the east and Hill Brook to the south, as well as other brooks and springs scattered throughout the mountains and valleys of the area.

It was a gorgeous day for a walk. There's nothing quite like scuffing your feet through a kaleidoscope of leaves as others whisper their way to the forest floor around you, holding hands with someone you love.

Brilliant blue sky accompanied us on our journey west. Anyone who has seen the vivid and vibrant colors of late-year New England up close knows that no camera can capture the magic of the changing of the leaves. Experienced firsthand, the palette is a marvel.

Greens and golds and slender silhouettes...

We parked at New York's Taconic State Park to get to the Falls. There is an access point and parking further down Falls Road in Massachusetts, but it is a steeper and more taxing hike from that location. If you're looking for what the DCR web site considers a "moderate difficulty" walk, park at Taconic, if you're up for some adventure and a just plain "difficulty" walk, go to the Massachusetts lot. I have done both now. I must say I prefer "moderate difficulty," if indeed, "difficulty" must be involved at all. Plus, if you walk in from the Taconic State Park side, you get to cross the New York - Massachusetts border on foot. Twice. (Again, for directions, take a look at the DCR web site above.)

Another reason I'm glad to be a New Englander in Western Massachusetts.

Bash Bish Falls from above. There are stone steps leading down to the basin. The folks down below in the photo give a good indication of the height of the Falls. Although swimming is forbidden, when we visited last summer, folks were splashing around and jumping in and sunbathing on the rocks and just generally having a good old time. The water is sure a lot more inviting in July than in late October.

My sore legs were screaming at me the next day, but I hoofed it down the stairs to snap this photo of the Falls from brook-level. Heck, if my older brother can do it after walking about a mile mostly uphill, so can I! Right...

For more fall in Western Massachusetts posts here at EWM, check out Motoring the Mohawk , October 1941 and Photographs: A Fall Farm Stand in Franklin County, October, 1941.

As always, thanks for stopping by, and take care!

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Bill Dusty said...

Call me demanding, but I think, ideally, you should have perhaps stood on that pointy rock at the waterfall (last photo) and had your picture taken. That would have been neat!

Mark T. Alamed said...

Demanding...I mean, Bill,

You first, buddy!

My lack of daring is eclipsed only by my poor sense of balance. ;-)

Bill Dusty said...

I would probably do it with a buzz on.

Remind me to never go out drinking you.

Mary E.Carey said...

Fantastic photos. I've only visited Bash Bish Falls once, but I loved it there. This is a beautiful post, particularly the reflection that you are in the autumn of your years. At about what age would you say the autumn begins?

Mark T. Alamed said...


In my opinion, we reach the Autumn of our years around the age of 40.

Birth to 20: Spring, we are growing learning, becoming.

20 to 40: Summer, we are productive, busy, establishing.

40 to 60: Autumn, we are less vigorous but more vibrant, harvesting the fruit of our summer, winding down toward winter.

60 to 80: Winter, the days grow short, we wrap ourselves in quilts of family and friends to stay warm. Spring is not coming for us this time.

Mary E.Carey said...

Mark -- I thought your mediation on the decades of life and the seasons was beautiful and posted it on my blog (giving you credit, of course). But it seems everyone disagrees with you. There seems to be general agreement that 50 is the new 40.

Mark T. Alamed said...

If 50 is the new 40, is 10 the new 0?

For the baby-boom generation, reality has always been a subjective sport.

heather said...

Beautiful pictures, Mark.

The whole messing with the meaning of age thing has often caused me to feel (as a Gen-Xer) that I could never actually grow up in the eyes of my elders. On the bright side, I guess it keeps me young.

sojourner said...

I would like to agree with Mary about the new 40, but I think you're right, Mark, about us babyboomers.

On the other hand, I completely agree that your thoughts on the ages are very well expressed, but winter's coming fast!

The Barney monument at Forest Park also has an interesting perspective on the ages of man. Have you ever seen it?

Mark T. Alamed said...

Thanks, Heather.

I snuck in right at the tail end of the baby-boom generation, so when I poke a little fun at them, I'm including myself.

I would love to believe that somehow 10 years has miraculously been shaved from my age. Heck, I haven't celebrated a birthday in years. But the fact of the matter remains that the average life span of the American human is a little under 80 years, hence four seasons of two decades apiece, which, when consider objectively, seems to work as a fairly accurate formula.

I have to be honest and admit that my reply to Mary on the onset of the autumn of our years took me about 5 minutes to write, in a rush before work in the morning. Like right now.

Maybe if I spent some time considering my words more carefully, I would come up with a better definition of my view of the phases of life, but re-reading my original top-of-the-head thoughts of the other morning, I don't think the end product would turn out much differently.


Roma and I have seen that monument a hundred times and for the life of me, I can't remember a word on it.

I guess that is a sign that we need to visit the park soon. Or that my memory isn't quite as sharp as it used to be.

Sigh...that age thing again.

In one of Vonnegut's novels - I forget which one and am too hurried to go look through - he places himself in the story and interacts with his recurring character and alter-ego, Kilgore Trout. Kurt asks Kilgore if there is anything he can do for him, anything at all. As Vonnegut drives away, it occurs to Kilgore what he wants and he yells after his creator: "Make me young! Make me young! Make me young!"

I can dig it.