I got up in the morning, decided I’d find something fun and different to photograph. I poke around on the net and find one of the biggest and coolest waterfalls in Maine that was also in an area with almost no light pollution. I figured, yea I’ll photograph the waterfall and stick around after dark and get some of those crazy good astrophotos people get in areas with no light pollution. I check the hourly on weather channel for that area and they say completely clear skies until midnight so, I say ‘navigate to Angel Falls Rangeley, maine’ to my phone and off I go! Big thumbs up to modern technology!
Finally, after 3 1/2 hours I arrive there (after about 2 hours of driving the excitment of this adventure waned a little bit kind of like in Swingers on their trip to Vegas). ‘Ranegely, baby, Rangeley!’ somehow doesn’t have the same ring to it though.
So finally I arrive at my… destination? The GPS cheerfully declares ‘you have arrived! 🙂 (I imagine there’s a smiley face involved with the tone in which she says it)’ and I’m looking around… is there a waterfall around here? I’m in the middle of nowhere on a dirt road surrounded by trees. So I continue for another mile or two as my car continues to take a beating on this rough dirt road.
I finally turn around and head back. I notice an SUV bombing down the road from behind me so I pull over to let it pass, then I decide to flag it down. The SUV stops and the occupant puts down their window. I ask for directions and this very nice person decides to lead me to the road where the hiking trail to Angel Falls is. She continues the bomb down the road and I bomb along with her in my Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, hit a small ditch across the road and BANG! my car completely bottoms out. I’m pretty sure I just left a scattering of car bits and pieces behind me. We arrive at the trail road which she points out. There is a very inviting sign that says ‘PRIVATE PROPERTY 24 HOUR SURVEILLANCE!’ on the road entrance with no mention of the waterfall or hiking. Hmm no wonder I couldn’t find it? Thank god I came across someone in the know. I check where my car met the ground and everything seems ok at a glance so off I go.
Anyhow it was a pleasant hike out to the falls, there are many friendly people along the way and the hike itself isn’t too long, although you have to do a fair share of boulder hopping. It’s a bit late in the day when I get to the top of the falls so no one else is there which is good for photos- not the greatest lighting but at least I won’t have blurry people in my shots. So I get a few OK shots and the sun is starting to go down so I am decide to head back. I turn around as I’m leaving and of course I need that one more shot (that one more shot always gets me). I put my backpack down and hear ‘kathunk!’. I look and I see that my brand new 70 dollar flashlight fell out of it’s pocket on my backpack (that I left unzipped… yea). It fell into a crevice in between two boulders. I reach in to get and and there is another ‘kathunk!’… D’oh! It fell down another level. I reach and reach but can’t grab it. Mind you I am 6’5″ with a wingspan to match so it is definitely out of reach. I reach around for about ten minutes, left arm, right arm angling around the boulders to no avail. I resolve myself that it is gone and head off.
Angel Falls in Rangeley, ME
Now, my sense of direction is horrid (I have no built in compass), on the way back the exit back to the main road completely eludes me and I hike on, and on, and on some more. Mind you this is a very easy hiking trail and isn’t very long. It’s starting to get dark out and I prefer to do all of my boulder hopping in the daylight. I decide just to cut through the wilderness and make my way in the direction of the main road. On a side not if you haven’t yet download your local area to your phone in Google maps. I learned my lesson once going into a tiny city where I didn’t have Internet available and the GPS didn’t work when I was leaving town (duh). Before I left I downloaded the entirety of New England to my phone and it worked like a dream when I had no Internet available on this trip. All that to say I was able to use my phone to get back to the road- I was majorly lacking a machete though. Branches were smacking me in the face, I was stepping knee deep into holes. The forest was beating on me for my lack of direction sense (which it should have). I get to the road and find out that I managed to go about a quarter mile past my car. Sweet, more steps on the pedometer! Take that Fitbit competitors! (sorry, mom)
So, I’m a little worse for the wear but I still have that killer astrophoto to capture! Hey, my fill light may not have made it but I can make due with my cellphone light. So off I go scouting around looking for a suitable location. I find this gorgeous pond right on the main road with a pull-off right at the spot I want to shoot from. The wind is very light and the ripples in the water are few and far between, and yes that sky is totally clear just like what the Weather Channel said! This is the perfect spot! It couldn’t get any better. So I set up my tripod and attach my wide angle lens. I can hardly contain my excitment as the sun is going down and more stars are being revealed. With each star that pops up there is a perfect reflection of it in the water below. I can only imagine what this is going to look like with a breathtaking sky completely loaded with stars in a city with little to no light pollution.
Then, while waiting for the sun to go down I see my arch nemesis – the cloud. They are coming in from the … right? (Like I said, no sense of direction). It’s now a race between the sun going down and the clouds coming in. Unfortunately the clouds won by a landslide. I resolved myself to wait it out, hey maybe these clouds will pass. After about 45 minutes of waiting I picked up the distinct smell of skunk. I freaked out that there was one lurking around in the darkness and hightailed it back to my car. Funny how a skunk can strike more fear into you than a Grizzly bear – I guess no one wants to stink but hey a few flesh wounds… And yes it was dark, like I can’t see my hand in front of my face dark by that point.
So, yea 3 1/2 hours of driving so far for a decent waterfall photo and no astrophoto (you lied Weather Channel!).
Well as I was driving home the stars again made an appearance so I pulled into Nubble Light and got a few quick photos. Of course those were the best photos of the day, an hour and fifteen minutes from where I live. Not the eye popping stars that you get in the low light pollution areas, but the Nubble never dissapoints.
Finally some stars at the Nubble Light in York, ME!
Despite all of that I’m already itching to go on another photography adventure!
See many more of my photos on my site at http://wayneoxfordphotography.com/