Arethusa Falls

HikingSnowshoeing

Livermore, New Hampshire

The Perils of Spring Hiking:

I took a trip to Arethusa Falls with a group of people the last weekend of April. Arethusa Falls in the Spring The path was still thawing out, so the bottom of the trail was muddy and slippery, but the top of the trail was still under a descent ice pack. As we ascended, I was watching my footing because we kept falling through knee to waist deep in the snow and were attempting to stay on the part that was packed down from prior use. With my attention and my eyes on my feet, I managed to miss the tree that was laying across the trail at head height. I proceeded to walk right in to it and landed unceremoniously on my butt with my feet straight out in front of me. Little did I know that this wouldn’t be the worst “accident” I was to have before the Mountain was done with me.

After a swift recovery, where my embarrassment was only outweighed by the headache I was developing, we crossed a section of the trail that is currently a stream due to the spring thaw. I was very proud of myself for wearing my Gore-Tex hiking boots and bragged about how dry my feet were as I stomped across and watched the others try to navigate from rock to rock.

Upon reaching the falls, we admired the sight in front of us. The falls were still partially frozen, but where it was clear, the water was cascading down. After snapping a few pictures, the Arethusa Falls - with Matt getting wet for perspective group decided to sit on some rocks while we waited for the rest of our party to join us. We were interrupted and managed to save a boy scout’s backpack from floating completely down stream. With my Gore-Tex boots and a friend’s walking stick, we managed to hand him the rescued backpack and continued on our way to rest. The rocks near the river promised a sunny and dry spot to have a snack. As I neared the rocks and was just about to set foot on a boulder, my right leg went through the snow as far as my thigh. This having been at least the 20th time I had fallen through, I exclaimed “AGAIN?” and started lifting myself up with my hands just as the snow behind me gave way. I ended up with my butt in the water, one leg above my head and one leg still in the hole and now also above my head. One of my companions reached out to me with her walking stick, which I grasped on to, with all my might. Exclamations from the boy scouts sounded out over the sounds of rushing water to the tune of “Hey, someone’s falling in” drawing all eyes in the area to my position. The scout leaders rushed to help my friends attempt to pull me out.

Unfortunately, it was impossible for any of them to help me as the snow was giving way all around me and they were being forced to retreat in order to not end up in the same position. Unable to be pulled out, I decided to fight to swing my legs around and under me while holding on to the walking stick, hoping the water was shallow enough so I could stand. I soon found out that yes, it was shallow enough; it was only waist deep. As I tried to pull myself out of the river, the snow bank kept giving way under my hands. I was able to finally get on some rocks and join my party, freezing cold and soaking wet. There was now a nice 4ft area around the rock where could see that there was nothing but swift moving water under the seemingly sturdy snow.

What did I learn? That no, Gore-Tex boots do not keep your feet dry when you are standing in waist deep water, but wind pants do dry quickly. Oh, and also to scout out the areas more cautiously when walking on snow near rivers. Needless to say, my example was well heeded by the rest of group and the other hikers in the area also began to move back away from the water.

-Deni Holsinger