Over the years I have repeatedly recognized the wisdom of these words from Frodo Baggins, although for entirely different reasons for which he uttered them. One of our guide books to the Blue Ridge Parkway mentions: “although the 250 miles of scenery is wonderful, the real beauty is seen when one pulls off the road and walks into the woods.” [need quote] That has been my experience in every state.
We had camped overnight at North Lake Campground in NY, and we’re headed home, winding down the mountain and needing to pull over to boil some water for our Choffy. The parking lot we picked happened to be a trailhead to a place that, according to the information boards, may be the most captured scenery on canvas in New York Stare, the Kaaterskill Falls. Well, the hiking poles were in the back of the car so…
The next 2 1/2 hours were a feast for the senses – sight, sound, scent and feel as we hiked alongside the falls in the early fall weather, colors just starting to turn, few people on the trail, water churning over rocks as it had been doing for hundreds (thousands?) of years.
Notably, there is a decent view of the base of the falls from the road which we would have seen had we continued down the hill a few more turns. But a quick pull off onto the side of the road and some photos cannot equate with what we experienced. It would be like viewing an advertisement of a meal on the window of a restaurant contrasted to going in, sitting down, ordering and savoring the meal brought to you.
And it is not simply the numerous sights and sounds captured clambering up the slope of the falls that cannot be seen from the car which make up the difference. There is body movement, muscles engaged, necessary exertion and increased heart rate as you push yourself up the hill. There is the shared conversation provoked by the various experiences. There is time to process, listen, take in the roar of the water, the rustle of the leaves, the smell of wood and water and forest loam.