Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

Stay on the Path, Please


At the base of Taughannock Falls

I think this is one of the places that I could spend a lifetime exploring.   Or maybe just sitting and watching the falls.  Like the guy sitting on the fallen tree in the lower right (with his dog).  If nothing else, he provides scale for the size of this waterfall.  I thanked him for it, too, and then mentioned that he was sitting in an “off-limits” area.  I don’t think he cared.   Certainly the dog didn’t care – he thought it was a great place to swim.

Photographically, that’s the problem with some of these places.  There are signs all over the place telling you where you can’t go.  And it always seems that those are the exact spots you’d like to be to set up your tripod.  You think that if you could just get up on that ledge up there you’d have the perfect perspective, the perfect angle.  So what if it’s a bit dangerous?  It’s a “bit dangerous” to stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon, but nobody stops you from doing that.  So why do I have to “stay on the path” here? 

I was once wandering around Letchworth SP, close to a short wall (about a foot and a half tall) above the gorge.  The wall itself was roughly 25 feet from the edge.  To get a better angle, I set the tripod on the wall and straddled the wall with my feet.  Before you could say “watch the birdie”, a park ranger appeared out of nowhere and asked me to step back.  Again, if it’s OK for me to stand on the very edge of one of the world’s deepest canyons, why in the hell can’t I stand 25 feet from the edge of the Genesee River gorge?

Well, that’s New York state for you.  Lots of taxes, lots of snow, and lots of silly rules.


4 Responses to “Stay on the Path, Please”

  1. blovius

    One of the things I like about where I live – in the Adirondack State Park – is that you can go anywhere that you please on public land. None of that namby-pamby stay-on-the-path stuff here. On the trail, off the trail, plunging over a cliff into an abyss and certain death (it does happen), it’s all up to you. A DEC ranger might tell you that you’re a dumb SOB for doing what you’re doing but he/she won’t tell you to stop what you’re doing – fire restrictions, peeing in a steam, above treeline camping (winter OK), or a few other don’t-damage-nature rules aside. You’re free to kill yourself as long as you don’t mess up Mother Nature while you’re doing it.

    FYI, I’m going to be on your neighborhood this Sunday and would love to get together if you are so inclined. I’m leaving home by 4pm (Friday). Send me an email or after 4pm call me anytime on my cell 518.593.3894

  2. Cedric

    This picture took on a whole new perspective when I spotted the man and his dog. Quite a grand waterfall. You certainly live in a nice part of the world. I’m with you on rules and regulations. I suspect most of them are put in place to mitigate litigation.

  3. Chris Klug

    I know what you mean about the Grand Canyon, I was really amazed how they let you climb all over the place and never seem to say a word. Lots of signs about ‘don’t be stupid, take lots of water with you went you go for a walk INTO the canyon, it’s a long way down’ and stuff like that, but they don’t stop you.

    Beautiful image.

  4. Paul Maxim

    An interesting side note on “silly rules” and the Grand Canyon. During our visit there in 2006, I was standing in one of the more popular overlook areas when a guided tour group arrived. The guide – a park ranger – was pointing out that one could easily stand up on the wall by the edge and look straight down (over 2000 feet straight down!). Someone asked what surely must be one of the most often asked questions: “How many people fall into the canyon each year?” I forget the exact number quoted by the ranger, but it was in the 10 to 20 person range. Each year. He then went on to explain that most of the casualties were in the 15 – 25 year age group (not small children, which surprised me) and that most of those people were posing for someone with a camera. They would stand on the edge, he said, and pose in a way that made them look like they were about to fall or were facing a stiff wind. Next thing you knew, they were lying on a ledge hundreds of feet below. Later, my wife and I actually saw young people doing exactly that (out near Desert View, where there aren’t even any short walls). Amazing.

    Still, they let people do it. As Mark points out, you’re free to “kill yourself” so long as you don’t damage the environment. All of these “victims” are, of course, prime candidates for the coveted Darwin Award.


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