Poestenkill Falls didn't last night, at least the falls didn't have a chance with me. Ok, my daughter, the one in my head, had to speaking lovingly in a corrective manner to me last night around Seven in the evening. I thought I could descend the entire two hundred feet of aggressive slope down to the base of the falls. I did slowly walk down a green slope that the city of Troy keeps trim. It must make an incredible toboggan hill when the snow flies. There's even a wooden fence that should stop most toboggans before reaching the fifty foot plunge into the rapids. That part of reaching the falls, slowly walking down the greensward, was easy.
I found the official trail built to reach the falls, but it lacked maintenance. An observation deck couldn't be stepped upon because it had rotten, unreliable boards. The trail terminated early, and the city had attempted to build a barrier with chain link fence, serious posts and rather masculine bolts. A miscreant had lit the posts on fire, and the posts had charging deep into post. A pair of young men passed me by, wearing Army tee shirts and capably carrying backpacks and bag chairs over the shoulder. "Great night to visit the falls", I said to the men as they made ready to navigate the slope down to the waterline. "Yeah, and now all that rain that fell this weekend". The pair made it look simple, skidding down the final slope.
A party of six or seven people were swimming in a pool fed by the falling torrent of water. I had thought about standing in the rapids so I could get a square on set of photographs of the falling water. The swimmers were safe enough in the pool but the narrow white water offered no safe place to stand in the flume. The water went down a second cliff and I doubted even a whitewater kayaker could best these ferocious rapids. Of course, I still wanted pictures, and the young maples on the slope of the gorge blocked the view of the cataract. I contemplated going down the slope to the waterline.
I saw I had a few handholds on the old posts and chain link of the fence. A few saplings offered support too. I was wearing topsiders without socks. Hardly geared up with vibram soles for traction. A helicopter would have to extricate me if I tumbled and broke a neckbone.
I saw a cluster of trees about ten feet down before the severest slope. I made for those. Two steps had to be taken without handholds. I remembered a conversation with my daughter over sushi in Ann Arbor a week beforehand. "Yeah, the knees become less limber and the veins become stiffer and you have to take meds to relax the capillary walls to lower blood pressure ...." "Yeah, dad, maybe you should skip climbing the mountains of the Catskills and the Dacks and stick to a few good hills"?
I made the stand of trees and I snapped pictures of the full falls with just a few few boughs of maple leaves blocking my way. Just twenty feet remained to the waterline, down the steepest slope without handholds. I contemplated an attempt. "Dad!" said the imaginary daughter, who sounded a lot like my mother Joan Elizabeth.
I made my way up to the end of the trail, crouching low for a low center of gravity, making steps slowly. When I had my fingers in the chain link fence I thought, "I have totally transferred my kid into the role of the other in my super ego. Poor kid. She shouldn't be put into that role. I badly need therapy".
I followed a trail beside a wooden fence that separated me from the whitewater flowing thirty feet below me through the steep sided gorge. It led up to the parking lot. I sat on a boulder in the shade and paged a rideshare.
I sat on the granite and remembered my Grandfather Edward Jacob Juntunen, who passed from this world at age eight nine. Every person who arrived at my parents farmhouse I immediately badgered to take me fishing because mom would not let me go without adult supervision at first. Grandpa Edward Jacob made for a soft touch, once a miner and a jack of all trades who had fished in the waters of the Keewenaw Peninsula to feed his brothers and sisters at the end of the nineteenth century. We went out in the row boat owned by Florence and Richard Bixby, a Grumman Aluminum boat kept upside down upon the bog grass. I had almost always counted on seeing baby snakes and tiny toads keeping safe and out of the sun under the boat.
I had permission to use the row boat any time. The oars kept behind the pole barn took just a second to fetch. Grandpa Ed and I set out on the productive waters of Euler Lake, my rowing propelling the craft between the water lotuses. The blowing of mom's car horn on her Chevy station wagon, the agreed upon signal, forced us to return to the dock.
I got out of the boat easily. Grandpa stood up and made a step, one foot on the wood slats of the dock and one foot on the aluminum seat of the row boat. His arms went out to balance and a look of terror took over his face. I looked on, clueless. He made the second step onto the dock and stood upright.
We arrived at the house with a catch of fish, a feast for tomorrow's dinner.