Crabtree Falls

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dbhguru
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Crabtree Falls

Post by dbhguru » Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:46 pm

ENTS,

One of the greatest surprises for me of the any of these trips down the spine of the Appalachians has been my visit to Crabtree Falls on the side of the Priest - a 4063-foot peak east of the Parkway and south of Charlottesville. I was astounded to read that the falls are billed as the highest in the East. How could I have missed such a spectacle? Well, I did. They are spectacular. Are they the highest waterfall in the East? Maybe. How do we define a waterfall? If we think we have challenges with tree measurements, we can be thankful that the dimensions we measure for trees are well defined. Not so for waterfalls.

Are the falls 1,200 feet high? Are the falls 1000 feet high? Where is the bottom? Where is the top? Do we count cascading waterfalls the same as plunging waterfall? Oh boy! Lots more to come.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
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dbhguru
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Re: Crabtree Falls

Post by dbhguru » Thu Apr 15, 2010 2:22 pm

ENTS,

In a previous post I spoke of Crabtree Falls in Virginia’s George Washington NF. The falls are billed as the highest waterfall in the entire eastern United States. Heights of 1,000 to, 1,200 feet are quoted. The elevation change from top to bottom of the series of drops exceeds 1,300 feet. Most of the drop is by what most people would clearly accept as waterfall. I expect a conservative construction of the waterfall part of the 1,300+ feet is at least 900 feet. The highest single drop is about 400 feet – and looks it.

Old growth follows the waterfall corridor, but over much of the mountain complex logging was intensive. Consequently, there is no old growth bonanza to be reaped, but that seen along the falls corridor is satisfying. Chestnut oaks, tuliptrees, northern reds, and blackgum, all exceed ages of 250 years. I counted about 250 rings on one downed chestnut oak that had fallen across the trail and was cut.

The first image below shows the beginning of the falls complex. It is at the start of the trail.
CrabtreeFallsLower.jpg
The second image is of a majestic old tulip tree that is probably over 250 years old, if not older. I measured it to the impressive height of 153.6 feet. It is approximately 12 feet in girth.
OGTuliptree.jpg
The third image shows Monica and yours truly about about the midway point of the falls complex.
BubbaAndBabyCrabtreeFalls.jpg
Spring wildflowers abound. The large white(pink) trillium was out in force.
GreatPinkTrillium.jpg
An ancient blackgum posed for me along the trail. If there isn't 300 years in this tree, I'm a monkey's uncle.
OGBlackGum.jpg
I'm still puzzling over the height of Crabtree Falls. I think we have to take a measure of the horizontal distance between the top and bottom of a waterfall or cascade and compare it to the vertical drop in a percent slope kind of calculation for height to be meaningful. I'm not prepared to do that now. It will be saved as a project for the future.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
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Co-founder and President
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Don
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Re: Crabtree Falls

Post by Don » Fri Apr 16, 2010 1:41 am

Bob-
Really!?
Height versus length...hmmm.
It is all in the definition. Cascades by definition have horizontal displacement. Waterfalls that I think of out west (Feather Falls, Nevada and Vernal Falls, Yosemite Falls) have wind blown displacement, but in the absence of wind drop gravitationally to a point more or less directly under 90 degree curve that they undergo once clear of their watercourse.
I guess we have generally allowed 'waterfall' to become more inclusive, whereas cascades are more exclusive...
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Re: Crabtree Falls

Post by edfrank » Fri Apr 16, 2010 9:31 am

Don, Bob,

I actually looked up definitions of waterfalls ad cascades when Bob first mentioned it. There are a wide variety of types listed on the Wilkipedia waterfall pages: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterfall I think of a waterfall as being primarily a vertical drop, whlie a cascade descends in a series of drops. At the far end of the series would be rapids that move more horizonatally than they do vertically. It is a spectrum and where you place the divisions depends on your point of view. I like the idea in general of looking at vertical versus horizontal displacement. An ideal waterfall could be defined as only those with vertical drops, and a step cascade would not be a single feature but a series of waterfalls separated by non-vertical sections. But really it depends on what definitions you want to use.

Ed
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Larry Tucei
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Re: Crabtree Falls

Post by Larry Tucei » Fri Apr 16, 2010 10:57 am

Bob, Great post. Your photos are nice. I like the trillum flower. I would enjoy the cascading waterfall, perhaps I could see it one day! Man it sure is beautiful. Speaking of waterfalls the Big Manitou Falls Wisconsin's highest fall rumbles 165 feet into the Black River. I have some good photos and video I'll dig them up. I've been to most of northern Wisconsins falls, Big Manitou, Little Manitou, Amicon.
http://gowaterfalling.com/waterfalls/bigmanitou.shtml Larry

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Re: Crabtree Falls

Post by dbhguru » Sat Apr 17, 2010 7:27 am

Ed, Don, Larry, et al,

As all of you realize, I'm a statistics nut and a stickler for accuracy. If someone makes a claim to having the highest waterfall in the East, I want to know how they came to that conclusion. Crabtree Falls may earn the distinction of being the highest cascading waterfall in the East. Thedistinction of the highest plunge waterfall in the East usually goes to Fall Creek Falls, TN at 257 feet. Kaaterskill Falls in NY is 260 feet high with an initial plunge of 180 feet. However, there is a series of waterfalls in Platt Clove that might qualify as a cascading waterfall. What should be the criteria? Greater than a 45 degree angle?

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
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Co-founder and President
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Co-founder, National Cadre

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James Parton
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Re: Crabtree Falls

Post by James Parton » Sat Apr 17, 2010 10:10 am

Bob,

What is the definition of plunge waterfall? That is one single drop, right?

The tallest that I know of in my area are Hickory Nut falls and Raven Cliff falls. Both in the neighborhood of 400 feet. I intend to return to Raven Cliff falls this summer. That area looks like good chestnut reminent country. The picture is Hickory Nut falls. I took it from the bottom of the gorge while visiting there a couple of weeks back.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hickory_Nut_Falls

http://www.alleneasler.com/raven.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raven_Clif ... _Carolina)


James
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Will Blozan
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Re: Crabtree Falls

Post by Will Blozan » Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:06 pm

Bob,

Fall Creek Falls has a maximum free drop of 182 feet as measured by me via laser when Jess and I were there in 2006. The 250+ is a composite height of dubious origin.

Will

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Re: Crabtree Falls

Post by dbhguru » Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:47 pm

Will,

Wouldn't you know it. They screwed up on waterfall heights also. Guess it is going to have to be ENTS to the rescue.

James,

That's a mighty impressive waterfall. The ones that plunge, or nearly so, are the impressive ones.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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Don
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Re: Crabtree Falls

Post by Don » Thu Apr 22, 2010 4:08 pm

Bob-
As 'big' as you are on superlatives, I'm suprised that you've not mentioned the next quantum leap beyond the 'waterfall'....there are waterfalls, then there are cataracts!
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