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Great Falls & Mather Gorge

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by john1027, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. john1027

    john1027 Mu-43 Veteran

    305
    Mar 5, 2010
    Alexandria, VA USA
    The Great Falls of the Potomac and Mather Gorge are in my opinion the most spectacular natural landmarks in the Washington, DC area. The Potomac River Gorge is a 14-mile stretch of the Potomac River that extends from the Key Bridge in the District of Columbia to the Great Falls. The falls and the gorges can be seen from the overlooks and trails on the Virginia-side at the Great Fall National Park or on the Maryland-side within the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. All of this is located just 15 miles upstream from downtown Washington, DC.

    The National Park Service (NPS) describes the falls as...cascading rapids and several 20 foot waterfalls with a 76-foot drop in elevation over a distance of less than one mile. The Potomac River narrows from nearly 1,000 feet, just above the falls, to between 60 and 100 feet wide as it rushes through Mather Gorge, a short distance below the falls. The Great Falls of the Potomac display the most spectacular fall line rapids of any eastern U.S. river. The falls are popular for kayaking and are classified as Class 5+ on the International Scale of River Difficulty, which equals extreme difficulty. Certain spots are Class 6, un-runnable, and dangerous. Below the falls and through Mather Gorge things are much more manageable, and the waters rank Class 2-3 which range between novice to intermediate.

    The river in this area is always powerful and dangerous but is especially so at this time of year after most of our snow melted after a few days of warm weather. I’ve posted images before from this park but wanted to put up a few from the GF2 and a couple processed as HDR images.

    GF2 & PL 20mm (5 image autobracket & PP w/Nik HDR Efex Pro)
    [​IMG]

    GF2 & PL 14mm (5 image autobracket & PP w/Nik HDR Efex Pro)
    [​IMG]

    GF2 & PL 14mm (5 image autobracket & PP w/Nik HDR Efex Pro)
    [​IMG]

    GF2 & 20mm (5 image autobracket & PP w/Nik HDR Efex Pro)
    [​IMG]

    GF2 & PL 45mm
    [​IMG]

    GF2 & PL 45mm
    [​IMG]

    GF2 & PL 45-200mm (@ 200mm)
    [​IMG]
     
    • Like Like x 3
  2. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    They all look great John but the 2nd to last really puts thing in perspective.
    The HDR looks good and not overstated...
    Good job my friend...don
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    John - thanks so much for all of these! The two with the kayaker really give one the true sense of scale. That white water looks pretty darn scary to me. I hope he didn't put in there!
     
  4. john1027

    john1027 Mu-43 Veteran

    305
    Mar 5, 2010
    Alexandria, VA USA
    Yes he did! He had paddled about a mile upstream to reach that point and then "bouldered" across the rocks to put into the white water.

    It is hard to get a true perspective of this area as most of the shots I have ever taken there are from up on the cliffs or from scenic overlooks. There is a great book by pro photographer Roy Sewall that truly is a gem of a book. He had the advantage of taking some shots from a helicopter.

    Link: Home
     
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Midlothian, VA
    Richard Elliott
    Nice shots!

    I used to take dates there when I was in high school and college. :love:

    I loved crawling around on the rocks. Used to practice rappelling on some cliffs downstream just up from NSWC Carderock.

    Unfortunately all I can find are some Polaroids I took with a 4 x 5 Speed Graphic. Hopefully I will find my old negatives. If not I have an excuse to stop by again next time I am up that way.
     
  6. john1027

    john1027 Mu-43 Veteran

    305
    Mar 5, 2010
    Alexandria, VA USA
    Thanks. I am sure you only took serious dates there. For the $5.00 entrance fee (good for 3 days), someone could schedule a few dates a good rate. I get the year-long season pass, which is a bargain at $20.00 and is good at either the Virginia or Maryland parks. This is the time of year to go when it is colder and the leaves are off the trees and before the crowds in the summer. Last week when I was there, I saw maybe six people in three hours.
     
  7. cucco

    cucco Mu-43 Regular

    129
    Dec 28, 2010
    Hey...you're in my neck of the woods! (Or I'm in yours).

    Great Falls is awesome! If you were in the area during hurricane Isabel (is that the one? I can't remember - the one where Alexandria was so flooded that people were kayaking through old town?), Great Falls was INSANE. I actually saw a guy kayak it at that time. It had to be some of the most treacherous white water I've ever seen!

    Great pics of one of my favorite areas!
     
    • Like Like x 2
  8. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Midlothian, VA
    Richard Elliott
    Entrance fee? What is this entrance fee you speak of? Must be new. Last time I was there was probably 20 years ago with my wife and kids in tow. ;)
     
  9. Mellow

    Mellow Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 27, 2010
    Florida or Idaho
    Tom
    Really nice job--one of the best, most under-stated results of HDR I've seen. I like #2 especially.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. drp

    drp Mu-43 Regular

    78
    Dec 13, 2010
    Virginia, USA
    David
    What MELLOW said except that I like them all. Nicely done.

    David
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. john1027

    john1027 Mu-43 Veteran

    305
    Mar 5, 2010
    Alexandria, VA USA
    Thanks and I was here for Hurricane Isabel (some of it ended up in my basement).

    This picture puts the historic flood levels of the river in perspective. Last spring, it got to the base of the pole at one point. If you know and enjoy the park, I'd highly recommend Roy Sewall's book I linked to earlier. I've seen it at B&N, and it is in the park's gift shop also.

    [​IMG]
     
    • Like Like x 2
  12. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Midlothian, VA
    Richard Elliott
    I was in the park shortly before (and after) hurricane Agnes in 1972 (see the water mark on that one). :eek:

    The park was closed and I had to sneak in - I remembered a little used path that was not marked so I could claim innocence if caught. :tongue:

    The main bridge had washed away so I was not able to access much. And I only had an Argus C3 at the time and I cannot find my pics. :frown:
     
  13. john1027

    john1027 Mu-43 Veteran

    305
    Mar 5, 2010
    Alexandria, VA USA