When life gives you snow and cold, go winterfalling.
At least I think that's how the phrase goes. In this seemingly never-ending winter, it's important to stay optimistic. And visiting some of my favorite summer waterfalls locked in winter hibernation is a great journey while waiting for the inevitable spring thaw.
Last week, I spent two afternoons exploring some of my favorite waterfalls east and west of the Connecticut River. The western journey included Plymouth's Buttermilk Falls, Woodbury's Nonnewaug Falls and Cheshire's Roaring Brook Falls. The eastern winterfalls tour included stops at Colchester's Day Pond Brook Falls and Glastonbury's Blackledge Falls.
I selected these falls because they are some of the highest and most scenic in the state and also involve a journey to get there. Yes, Kent Falls is probably the most well-known waterfall complex in the state, but that visit involves only parking your car and walking a few feet.
Buttermilk Falls was the first stop and involved trudging through the deep snow into a hemlock-shaded glen, where the waterfall was encased in ice except for a small frosty window near the top and at the bottom, where the icy water thundered into a deep pool. The deep green moss and gnarled tree roots hanging over boulders have disappeared under the avalanche of the February snows.
Nonnewaug Falls is probably the most difficult to reach on a cold February morning. You travel across vast fields of deep snow to a patch of hemlock forest known as "nature's loveliest nooks." The falls are frozen, but the muffled sounds of water moving underneath the ice echo through the rocky glen. The stream is also frozen, and visitors can walk right up and touch the magical waterfall named after the Native American Indian tribe that held it sacred.
Roaring Brook Falls is the state's highest drop and much of it remained unfrozen despite the cold spell. But the deep drop also creates huge icicles and ice formations along the sides of the rocky cliff where the falls plunge. No worries about trudging through winter here. The falls are a popular destination with a well-packed trail through the deep snow cover.
With the exception of Nonnewaug and Granby's Enders Falls, Day Pond Brook Falls, on the Connecticut Forest & Parks Association's Salmon River Trail, is my favorite place. Located deep in the state forest a mile northwest of Day Pond State Park, the falls are perfection – a frozen-in-time view of how they look on a warm summer afternoon.
They say there are no caves in Connecticut, but a visit to Blackledge Falls on a winter afternoon will change your mind. With the water cascading off a cliff, there is enough space between the rock face and one of the falls to squeeze behind it. The falling water creates fleeting stalactite and stalagmite icicles within the seasonal cave. With the waterfall expanding during each day of cold, much of the 30-foot-high cliff is frozen solid.
With the sun getting higher in the sky with each passing day, spring will eventually replace winter. The winterfalls will slowly melt and become waterfalls again, and the swimming holes of summer. But for me the two-day journey to the winterfalls brought back the joys of a New England winter.Copyright © 2015, CT Now