Bash Bish Falls

Bash Bish Falls, Mount Washington, MA

Technical Notes

While deciding how to shoot this scene, I had limited time at the end of the day (as is often the case when the light is right), and only took three lenses with me on the hike.  My 15mm Zeiss was too wide for what I was trying to accomplish, and while my 50mm Nikkor fit everything into frame, it left a few things to be desired, including distortion free corners and sharpness.

I ended up stitching three images together from my 85mm Zeiss, which is what you see here.  The clarity and seamless stitch, in my humble opinion, is perfect and about the same image quality you would see from a medium format camera since it ended up being 82MP in RAW format.  Giant print anyone?

Technical data aside, Mom loved the images I brought back from this place because it reminded her of her native Massachusetts.  She theorized that the name Bash Bish must be Scottish, although below is the Native American legend of Bash Bish.

Wherever the name actually comes from, I love how the giant boulder forms a witches hat.  The place seems to have both a rugged beauty, and tranquil feeling all at the same time.

The Legend of Bash Bish

According to legend, Bash Bish Falls, in the extreme southwest corner of Berkshire County, draws its name from the Indian woman Bash-Bish, who lived in a village near the falls. She was well liked because of her good-looks and equally pleasant nature, but her beauty did occasionally provoke jealously from the other squaws. Eventually, this led one of her friends to accuse her of adultery against her husband. Though she protested her innocence, the village elders sentenced her to death. She was strapped to a canoe and set adrift atop the falls. The moment before she tumbled down, a halo appeared around her head, and a ring of butterflies encircled her. Frightened, some of the men went below, where they found pieces of her canoe, but no sign of Bash Bish. They concluded that she must have been a witch.

Years passed, and though stories of the incident were told, it lapsed into the background. Meanwhile, Bash Bish had left a daughter, White Swan, too young to truly remember her mother. As the years passed, White Swan grew even more beautiful than her mother, and became the wife of the chief’s son, Wey-au-wey-ya (Whirling Wind). However, despite their best efforts, she remained unable to conceive, and some of the older men whispered among themselves that perhaps this was the gods’ punishment to the tribe for their execution of Bash Bish. Perhaps, they thought, it might even be her own witchcraft that cursed her daughter. Reluctantly, Whirling Wind took a second wife, for it was imperative that the chief’s son have a son of his own. White Swan grew increasingly despondent at her failure to bear children, eventually ceasing to leave the wigwam at all. One day, Whirling Wind returned to the wigwam to learn from his second wife that White Swan had run off toward the falls. By the time he reached the base of the falls, he saw her standing on the protruding rock platform above.

“Mother, mother,” she cried out over the falls, “Mother, take me into your arms.” Whirling Wind was then shocked to see the glowing, ethereal figure of a white-robed woman step out of the water beneath, stretching out her arms to White Swan. Panicked, he began clambering up the rocks to the platform. She turned to look at him.

“Wey-au-wey-ya, my brave, my chief,” she whispered, and then turned back to the rushing waters. “Mother,” she cried, and dropped forward into the waterfall. Crying her name, the brave leaped after her into the water, and was lost. Later, the chief and his men found his son’s body, but not White Swan’s. Some say that her face, and that of her mother, can sometimes still be seen in the pool below.