Archive for August 12th, 2011

Headwaters

August 12, 2011

The Appalachian Trail runs along the ridgeline of the mountains. Now a trail on a ridgeline will never cross a stream (because there are very few places above a ridgeline from which water could flow, and in the few places where water is above the ridge, there will always be a steeper slope some other direction than toward the ridge, so water will flow away from it rather than across it).

Of course the trail isn’t always exactly on the ridge, but there are very few stream crossings.

We were staying very close to the , but there was a short trail nearby that lead downhill toward a waterfall. It was only about a mile and a half.

After hiking for half a mile or so the trail reached a dry streambed and ran parallel to it the rest of the way. Slowly this dry bed filled with water even through no tributaries joined it and there was no obvious place where I could say “Here is a spring.”

A little further down a horse trail crossed the stream bed and churned it up into mud — which looked damper than the dry stones.

Another quarter of a mile or so and I noticed a few disjoint puddles in the streambed. There did not seem to be a flow, but there was liquid.

Then the trail dropped steeply and the next time we came back to the stream there was a steady trickle of water flowing in it.

A quarter mile below that and there was a good strong flow (remember, no tributaries)

And finally there was a rather impressive waterfall…

It was about a mile from dry stream bed to a significant waterfall. That seemed surprisingly little.

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