Thrill seekers take the plunge at Smalls Falls

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The unseasonably warm weather brought many folks to the crystal clear pools beneath the cascading water falls at Smalls Falls, in Township E, on Rt. 4 just a few miles south of Rangeley, on Labor Day.

Along with the picnickers, sight seers, and folks content to swim in the icy pools came the daredevils! I watched several different groups of young men and women jumping from the cliffs into the pool below. Some of them jumping from as high as 70 feet!

I talked with several of them before, and after they jumped. Most of them had been jumping from the cliffs at the falls a few times before, and a few were doing it for the very first time.

One thing was certain amongst all the folks I spoke with. If you aren’t sure you want to do it, it is best not to. Hesitation is what is going to get you hurt.

Two young men who seemed to be seasoned veterans critiqued the style of a few of the folks who were jumping. One thing that was common among the young ladies who took the plunge was the desire to plug their nose.

Apparently it is very important how your arms and legs are positioned when you hit the water. Proof of that can be found in a report dating back to 1992, where a 21-year-old Gardiner man broke his back after a jump into the falls, because he landed on his buttocks.  Arms straight, feet and legs together seems to be the safest way to hit the water.  Any other way of landing resulted in audible slapping, and even thudding sounds when people hit.

I chatted with one woman who had just learned that her daughter had made the jump. From my perspective it seemed she wasn’t sure if she should be terrified, proud, or angry, but in the end she watched as he daughter made the jump again, and she was all smiles.  You could tell she was proud.

The general opinion was that mothers are the ones who either forbid jumping all together, or try desperately to discourage it. The fathers, on the other hand, often are the ones encouraging their children to jump. A few fathers I spoke to had made the jump themselves at a younger age.

Oddly, all of the middle-aged folks I spoke with who admitted jumping from the falls when they were in their teens or early twenties, stated they would NOT be jumping from the falls any time soon.

I can’t say as though I blame them! I have a hard time jumping into a swimming pool!  You wont be hearing me say, “So this one time, I scaled this 70 foot cliff, and jumped into a tiny pool below!”  I might be a little bit nuts…But not THAT nuts!

If you’ve never been to Smalls Falls, I encourage you to head on out there while the warmer weather holds!  Pack yourself a picnic, and grab your camera!  Rt. 4 into the Rangeley area is a wonderful treat!  Make a scouting trip, to pick out a spot for your leaf peeping adventures in a few weeks!

But if you decide to jump from the cliffs?  Don’t go saying I was the one who told you to do it!  No siree!  That’s all on you!  But I would highly recommend a dip in one of the pools!  Some of the views from in the water are amazing!  You can see some of my pictures in a previous blog titled “Making it count” about our last trip back in August.

Doug Alley

About Doug Alley

I grew up in Bath, Maine in an upper lower class family with 3 step sisters, a step brother, and a little sister. After high school I spent 3 years serving in the USAF at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. I've competed in, and won, demolition derbies. I've competed in, and never won, stock car races. I am the 47-year-old father of an 11-year-old boy who is pretty sure he is smarter than I ever was. We live on a little less than an acre of land in a 1973 mobile home in Stetson with my wife Jen, some cats, a few chickens, and rabbits, and a couple of goats. I hunt, fish, camp out, dabble in photography, gardening, and I cook in variable degrees of near success.