Buttermilk Waterfalls - highest waterfall in NYS

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Buttermilk Waterfalls - highest waterfall in NYS

New postby mike » Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:36 am

Image
This was taken from the top of Buttermilk Waterfalls. It is a side picture of drop #1. No PS, but I do want to take the twig out. I did print it out on paper, and it was excellent print. Taken with a Canon T3i at 18mm - 3 exposures of +2,0,-2 for HDR.

For those who do not know. Buttermilk Waterfalls is the highest waterfall in NYS at 549'. It has 9 major drops. This is the first of nine. It is very dangerous to hike or climb in the ravine.
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Re: Buttermilk Waterfalls - highest waterfall in NYS

New postby bikenhike » Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:53 pm

That is the best image I have seen for this waterfall. Will this be included in the new WF section?
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Re: Buttermilk Waterfalls - highest waterfall in NYS

New postby Jon » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:02 pm

leave the twig it adds character

=)


and howcome they say that katterskill falls is the highest? And my forest resources professor was going to take us to a falls in the Finger Lakes region that he claims is the tallest....what gives?
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Re: Buttermilk Waterfalls - highest waterfall in NYS

New postby mike » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:58 pm

Kaaterskill Falls is the highest two-step waterfall. It is a very impressively looking waterfall from the bottom. Angel falls and the next drop might be higher, but we can't get permission to measure it.

Buttermilk Waterfalls is 549' high. We finally finished measuring it about a month ago. It has 9 drops. Rich Kugel and I have been working on Buttermilk waterfalls since 2010. The reason it hasn't been measured before was because you really needed a GPS to measure it. The terrain is insanely dangerous. Over two years, we made around a dozen trips to find a way into all the drops. The walls of the ravine are 45-70 degrees. Most of the walls are covered with moss encrusted loose rocks. Hiking in there is very difficult. You can start rock slides VERY easily. You have to hike up the ravine to get to the next level. It can take 1-2 hours to get above each drop. In the middle, there is a section where you cannot get to the next drop. You have to leave the ravine and come back in again.

The first time Rich and I went in, we got surprised by a bobcat sitting under a large rock. Scared Rich and we were close to the top of a drop. When I came in to the bottom of the first drop, I had to cross a large rock slide. I carefully got part way across to the large log. I thought that I was safe. But, then the log and rocks started to slide off a cliff. Very scary situation. When I was there about a month ago, I fell and crack a bone in my forearm. Very dangerous place to go. But, we needed to visit each drop to make sure they were continuous drops. Many times while we were in the ravine it was too dangerous to pull the camera out of my pocket.

The waterfall in Letchworth State Park has held the highest waterfall in NYS. But, no more. Here is the ranking:

1. Buttermilk Waterfalls 549'
2. Five Cascades 369'-375' (need second verification - on these we only measure from the top and bottom - no hiking up the drops )
3. Inspiration Falls 350' (Letchworth Park in western NY)
Kaaterskill Falls 231' (2-step)

The Five Cascades includes Haines Falls, Angel Falls and the 7 drops of the Five Cascades. The name refers to the 5 cascades you can see from the bottom, but it is more then the 5 that you can see. They are on private property and extremely dangerous to hike in.

Santa Cruz might be around 250'
Lower Viola Falls and Hillyer Falls are also quite tall.
We have measure Lucas Kill Falls, so they might rank up there quite high (very difficult terrain).

Just in the Kaaterskill Clove there are about 45 waterfalls (drops). Another 18 in Platte Clove. We don't know how many are in the Lucas Kill Ravine. But, more then just a couple. Most of the waterfalls on around Kaaterskill Mtn Range and the eastern escarpment.
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Re: Buttermilk Waterfalls - highest waterfall in NYS

New postby Jon » Tue Dec 11, 2012 11:25 pm

I think people should really stop naming falls "buttermilk".
There are a whole bunch listed on this website:
http://www.nyfalls.com/waterfalls.html

The one my near Finger Lakes National Forest that my professor was talking about was Taughannock
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taughannock_Falls_State_Park
Which could be the largest single drop.

Wikipedia doesn't have anything nice to say about inspiration falls, they say it's only a trickle (less than 1 foot wide) when it is flowing, and is just a wet stain on the wall for most months out of the year, they also mention "(Taughannock Falls, 100 miles east of Letchworth in Trumansburg is generally recognized as the highest waterfall in New York as well as in the entire Northeastern United States)."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letchworth_State_Park

I dunno, if you did all that measuring you should probably get that work published or something so that it is recognized. Is there like a national waterfall measuring committee or something? If you're doing all the dangerous hard work someone should at least put you down as a footnote in a book right?

Also what is your method for measuring these waterfalls? I'd imagine using some trigonometry would probably be the most practical solution. Like if you knew how far away from the base of the waterfall you were, and the angle to the top of the falls, you could use the tangent to calculate the height. I'd imagine this could be done without foliage on the trees from a distance, and you wouldn't have to cause rock slides or get attacked by bobcats.
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Re: Buttermilk Waterfalls - highest waterfall in NYS

New postby tennant » Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:06 pm

Hi Jon,

When you read about the height of various waterfalls, there are usually qualifications attached. So Taughannock, being a straight vertical drop is considered the highest by most folks. If you want to include various steps, then it's a different ball of wax. Further, sometimes those "steps" are more like "slides", so it depends a lot on some rather subjective definitions.

-chris
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Re: Buttermilk Waterfalls - highest waterfall in NYS

New postby mike » Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:10 pm

We haven't officially announced it yet, so you will not find it listed anywhere.

Waterfalls have a number of categories, such as, plunge, cascades, etc. There are some general rules on classifying them. But, the USGS doesn't cover them, so there is no official designation or rules. Waterfalls can be a single drop, or multiple drops. Some of the drops can have separate names and the overall set of drops may have another name. Sometimes a single drop may have two names. An example Haines Falls also has another drop next to is which is called Angel Falls. There are a number of databases of waterfalls kept. there is also a world database kept, but they are only interested in very large waterfalls. Some of the major databases were aware that some new major waterfalls in NY might come from the Catskills. Some are very difficult to access. As for Buttermilk, it could only be measured by GPS, so that is why it hasn't been measured. Measure with a laser or measuring tape is completely out of the question. It is so difficult and dangerous to move around in the ravine. Very easy to get killed in there. When I researched it, I could not find out how many drops it had. I had anywhere between 3 and 10 drops. Very little information to go on.

There still some other waterfalls that we haven't completely measured yet. One that comes to mind is Lucas Kill Falls. Dunn said it is around 8' high. This summer Rich and I got a couple hundred feet down, and we never found the end of the drops. Not sure how high it is, or if there is a break in the drops. But, it is sizable.

Lower Viola Falls is also another one that could be potentially large. Very hard to access both the top and bottom. We know that Hillyer Falls is a two step drop, but we don't know exactly how high. Maybe 150-200' ?

We have also found a number of new waterfalls that don't have names. We are going to be working with the Mountain Top Historical Society on researching them. If a name isn't found, then they will name them.

Measuring them is difficult. The ground needs to be dry enough that we don't get land slides, and we must have rain to make them flow decently. The Fall time is the best. Once it starts to ice up, it gets dangerous and the measurements can be skewed.
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Re: Buttermilk Waterfalls - highest waterfall in NYS

New postby kennykb » Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:15 pm

Please, ask the Mountain Top Historical Society not to name any more falls, "Buttermilk!" There are entirely enough of those. :roll:
I'm not lost. I know exactly where I am. I'm right here.
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