Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday August 22nd 10:00 AM

Today there were no reservations on the books except for one cancellation so I was prepared to perhaps take a 4:00 journey up to Gooseberry Falls but it was not to be as all three of the hikes were filled with last minute walk ins which were welcomed after a couple of slower days in the park.

This hike started with me pulling in a bit later than normal to meet a retired woman who had intended to come with a few friends but after one thing led to another they all became quite busy so she decided to come herself. I was happy she did as it was my first hike with just one hiker. It was a really different experience as I felt it game me the freedom to step back a bit more and observe what a single hiker would notice on their own. I tried this time to listen and sort of suggest what should be listened to but allow her to guide the experience. I don't think she could tell I was doing this of course, but it was interesting to see what happened.

Right off the bat she noticed that there was a distinct lack of bird noises in the initial leg of the hike. "You need to get some birds out here!" she insisted. Then, as if on cue, a group of birds of different varieties began to lay down one of the most interesting grooves I have heard in a long time like they were making a track for Bjork or Nobukazu Takemura. Sometimes you have to tell singers what to do I guess.

We then proceeded past the bridge which she noticed faded quickly despite the loud sound it made as we passed. I pointed out that sometimes the bird sounds seemed to emerge out of it and again, as if they were trying to prove me right, sang in almost harmony with the waters sounds. They must have heard me calling them lazy in earlier hikes and decided to teach me a lesson.

After the dripping wall, we proceeded to cicada alley (newly named) but of course, they were not up that early in the morning, kind of the Jazz musicians of the forest. I did decide to explore a new path which leads straight to the river in variation to the normal river overlook. The river overlook gives a very sudden and dramatic sonic approach to the river which is at what is normally the "golden mean" point of the tour but exploring the path behind cicada alley has its own reward in that it prepares the ears for the overlook which is now just a wash of high and low sound and rewards the ear with very distinct low gulping sounds that create a nice steady rhythm. These are similar to sounds heard farther up stream but here you hear them much closer up which is less reverberant but more present and a nice contrasting singular sonic moment.

Again on our way back the birds gave a last serenade at the stone steps which is a nice place to hear them as the temporary shielding the sandstone provides from the river allows them to cut through the din ever so briefly and then be enveloped once again in the sound of the rapids.

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