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Climb to Gorge Trail

Potential danger abounds

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Capturing photographs and videos on the fly using an Iphone, we visited Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, New York with our granddaughter, Nia. This is the third post of this series. Click me for the first post in this series.

Emerging from the blind canyon of Cowsheds Waterfall, we are faced with this gorgeous pool fed by Dry Creek (yes, that is the name). Formed by a dam, the water is deep and very cold.

We were standing on this footbridge for the above photograph. The trail to Cowsheds is on the far side of Dry Creek and to the right.

We have yet to count these steps, don’t know why. The limestone blocks were quarried locally from the same stone of the creek bed. The gorge trail begins at the top.

Trillium Seed Capsule

This is a Purple Trillium, I believe, formal name Trillium erectum. It is a large specimen judging form the width of the bracts, leaf like structures at the based of the flower stalk. When fertilized, the ovaries form this seed capsule containing up to 16 seeds, each with lipid with a high content of oleic acid. During summer, the capsule opens, seeds disperse. Ants encounter the seed elaiosome, the oleic acid content triggers “corpse carrying behavior.” The ants carry the seeds into their nests, consume the lipids leaving the seeds. After a year dormancy the seeds sprout and the additional depth in the ant nest provides a good start.

Trillium are a favorite food of deer, unfortunately. Some seeds are spread this way, passing through the digestive tract and out in fecal waste. I use the color of the seed capsule to identify it was Purple Trillium. In my experience the white variety (Trillium grandiflorum, and others) has a light colored seed capsule.

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Presidents Fillmore and F. D. Roosevelt

A U.S. President born in a log cabin, MiIllard Fillmore

Capturing photographs and videos on the fly, we visited
Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, New York with our granddaughter, Nia. This is Pam and my favorite park for the lack of crowds, variety of wildflowers and dramatic views.

A the bottom of Gorge Trail, near the creek fed swimming pool, is a cabin moved to the park from a few miles away to commemorate an American President’s birthplace. Milllard Fillmore was born on the peneplain above the gorge of Dry Creek in a place called Locke, five miles from the modern park entrance. His birth cabin was destroyed in 1852, the land is dedicated to his memory with a monument. This cabin of a type identical was disassembled and reconstructed on this spot in 1965 by the Millard Fillmore Memorial Association.

The 480 square foot (20 by 24 feet) original (the rebuild is a bit smaller) had a central fireplace and and will chinked logs, a ceiling of simple planks.

The cedar shingles were hand made, as were the nails.

More information on a display inside the cabin.
A few feet away is a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps. We can thank them for building much of the park infrastructure we depend upon today.
Click me for my Fine Art Photography gallery.
Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

The Space Station and the Waterfall

Potential danger abounds

Capturing photographs and videos on the fly, we visited
Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, New York with our granddaughter, Nia. This is Pam and my favorite park for the lack of crowds, variety of wildflowers and dramatic views.

Growing near Cowsheds Waterfall, at the foot of Gorge Trail, was this
strange fruiting wildflower so like a modular space station. It is Baneberry.  There are white and red forms. This is white Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda).  These terminal round nodes resolve into white balls with black dots, like dolls eyes. The cylindrical connectors (as in space station) turn bright red. Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra) has bright red berries. The flower is a fluffy white mass that gives no hint of the seed form.

All parts of both forms are highly poisonous, the bane of Baneberry. The berries are deadly. Ingestion of as few as two berries by children will cause death from cardiac arrest. Six for an adult.

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Cowsheds Waterfall is littered with enormous limestone blocks, remnants of a shelf. The rock under the limestone, a soft shale, is worn away first by running water forming a room (or Cowshed) under the limestone. Eventually, the limstone falls into the creek. The waterfall is at the end of a blind canyon with a sign at a trail end warning visitors to go no further. Careless visitors to Finger Lakes Gorges are killed, on occasion, by falling rock when they loiter beneath cliffs.

Overview of the site

Click me for my Fine Art Photography Gallery.

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

Frogs!!

A summertime visit to Sapsucker Woods

Wednesday last, grandson Sam, who’s three, and I wandered the landscape, catching the sights of summer. Eventually, we visited Sapsucker Woods, a Cornell University nature preserve. There, a boardwalk over the swamp is a proven venue for frog spotting and, this day, we had some success.

We found this cooperative golden-eyed beauty calmly squatting and croaking.

In this 30 second clip, reflected light off the water surface captures proto-croaks that did not quite escape from the source. There is a successful and full croak finale.

Off the boardwalk, we took a short detour to view an elaborate cairn built of local rock by a famous artist. The dappled sunlight across the surface is especially enjoyable.

The Sapsucker Cairn, Andrew Goldsworthy

At the furthest extent of the preserve is this pond where the residents were notably raucous in this 30 second clip.

About this time the mosquitoes descended for a determined attack on Sam’s legs. “Itchy,” he said. Myself, protected by deet, they left alone. Sam’s Mom prepared him for the trip with natural mosquito repellent that was not up to the task. Next time we visit, Sam will wear long pants and sleeves fortified with deet.

Just before picking Sam up for a quick retreat, I caught this algae encrusted turtle sunning on a narrow branch. It is a turtle, head retracted for the moment, not a rock.

Click me for another Sapsucker Woods posting.

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

German Club “To the Watermill”

Nostalgia and Great Food

Our tour of Chilean Lake Country and Volcanoes began from the harbor of Puerto Montt, in the tender we boarded from the ship Regatta. This is a small boat carried in the hold and deployed to transport passengers to ports without docking facilities. Once on land, we met our guide for the day and boarded the bus.

I have yet to post about our first stop, Puerto Varas, a 20 minute ride and our first exposure to the influence of 19th Century German settlers seen, from our bus windows, in the architecture. Today’s post is about our lunch stop, a restaurant half way between Puerto Varas and Ensenada.

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Club Aleman Molino de Agua

Club Alemans (German Clubs) are found in Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas, and here. Each is a gathering place for locals to celebrate their heritage, a feeling somewhat diluted over time to where, now, they speak of themselves as “Chileans of German extraction” and the great majority speak Spanish at home and are exposed to the German language as school courses.

For past generations, the link was stronger, German was the language spoken at home and there was homesickness for the cultural traditions left behind and somewhat alleviated by the similarity of Chilean Lake Country to foothills of the Alps. Once established, the settlers duplicated the architectural features using local wood. Notably, many houses are clad with shingles from the Alerce (also known as Fitzroya cupressoides), a type of Cypress native to southern Chile and Argentina. The roof shingles of Club Aleman, seen below, were of this type.

The sign translates to “German Club: to the watermill” from the two languages used: Spanish and German. The sign reads “lunch, dinner, late night.” “Onces means Late Night.

The “watermill” is a nostalgic, sentimental reference echoed in architectural and decorative details throughout the property, such as this series of posted set to suggest a device used to control water flow. There is no water flowing through the property.

Our lunch was excellent Chilean fare, but I don’t recall what it was, exactly and I didn’t photograph the interior. For us, an plus of using these cruise tours is all the details are taken care of, releasing us to maximize our enjoyment of the surroundings.

A dark side to these settings was the attraction the area had to un-remorseful Nazis fleeing war crime prosecution. In Chile and Argentina they found refuge in the 1940’s, 50’s and were supporters of the Pinochet dictatorship. None of this history was presented by our excellent guide, nor was it reflected in these rustic charms.

I was fascinated, for some reason, by the two dormers of the main building root with the wheel-like decoration.

The Garden

A native plant encountered frequently in our travels, growing wild, and here.
Close-up of the shrub growing to either side of those large leaves.
Click me for the first post in this series
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

A Summer Flower and Waterfalls

A personal discovery of the namesake of an Ithaca restaurant

Travelling light, using IPhone captures during a 4.6 mile walk on the Gorge and North and South Rim Trails of Taughannock Falls New York State Park, Finger Lakes Region near Ithaca, New York. A few waterfalls and sights along the way. Distance is from the “Health” app on my phone.

A “Rim Trail” follows the edge of the gorge. The “Gorge Trail” is within the gorge, along side the creek and ends at the 200+ foot waterfall.

This was the day Tiger Lilies bloomed along the roads the entire 13 miles. This stand was at the beginning of the South Rim trail.

A few steps farther the trail opens up to the expanse of the gorge above the waterfall, a place to contemplate the age of these rock gazing into the open space. There is no access to the bottom of the gorge here.

On days like this, the experience carries me away, enjoying the moments and forgetting the phone in my pocket. When I come to, it is the bottom of the South Rim trail at the entrance to the Gorge Trail and the hordes walking to the falls on a Sunday afternoon. This waterfall welcomes everyone at the beginning.

The vantages I choose usually exclude the crowds, here is a video of the observation platform beneath the 215 foot Taughannock Falls. Any closer and the camera lens is covered with mist. Feels great on this hot day.

I capture this tree growing along the Gorge Trail for later identification. It has fruits similar to a maple tree. Called samaras and also known as helicopters, maple keys, whirlybirds, and polynoses these must distinguish this tree as a member of the genus Acer though the leaf shape gives me doubts. Here the gorge changes direction almost 90 degrees from, generally, north/south to east/west. There is plenty of sunlight here and the tree has taken root in the talus of the cliff face.

I researched it and discovered the scientific name is Acer pensylvanicum and more commonly known as Moosewood. There is a “famous” restaurant in Ithaca, named Moosewood, so now I know there is indeed a tree growing locally by that name. The restaurant is near the commons of Ithaca and is 100% vegetarian. The last time Pam and I at there we were packed like sardines, like some collective, and we’ve never been back. The food is good and the basis of their fame is a cookbook by the same name.

Backlit lilies found on the climb up the North Rim trail.

Click me for a Tiger Lily photograph from my Fine Art Gallery. Click the “View Larger” link for the image.

Along the trail are interesting and informative sheets about the park and surrounding towns. Trumansburg is the nearest village to the park.

Click me for another Waterfall post.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Calbuco Simmered

An unsettling volcanic neighborhood

Postings last week featured the symmetrical, haunting cone of Orsorno and I have more images and stories to share of this quiescent horror in waiting. Today you will learn of another stratovolcano just 16 miles from Orsorno, also ancient; unlike Orsorno, misshapen and a current threat to local residents.

Calbuco is its name, taken from an indigenous language, “Blue Water” in English. It must refer to the water of Lake Llanquihe. As we drove Road 225 Calbuco was on one side, to the south, the lake on the other. When we visited Petrohué Falls, the river forms a southern boundary to the Llanquihue National Reserve from which Calbuco rises.

April 2015 Eruptions

Where we planned out trip, nine months before this day in February 2016, Calbuco erupted without warning with explosions one step below that of Mount St. Helen’s 1980 event. The volcanic plume of ash and cinders reached more than 10 kilometers ( 6+ miles ) high. It was fortunate the wind direction took the ash away from the nearby cities of Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt. Each is about 17 miles from Calbuco. As it was, the catastrophe destroyed crops and made farmers lives difficult. Farmers and the residents of the rural village Ensenada, nine miles away, evacuated to save their lives. Abandoned farm animals perished. Village residents returned to homes, roads, gardens covered in ash.

Here is a photograph of an ash and cinder drift from the explosion, just off Road 555 on the slopes of Orsorno volcano, above Ensenada village.

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Settlement Beneath Active Volcanos

At the start of the 18th Century the provinces around Lake Llanquihe were thinly populated. The government of Chile, in anticipation of seizure of the land by European powers, cooperated with efforts of German emigres to resettle German families fleeing a disorderly revolution. Today the region show the cultural influence of these settlers. Here is the exterior of the Club Alemain (“German Club”), the restaurant along Road 225 were we had an excellent lunch. ††

Look closely at the chimney. The stones are black and porous, volcanic cinders from Calbuco eruptions.

German settlers were there to witness, and suffer, the 1893-1895 Calbuco eruptions, one of the most explosive experienced in Southern Chile. Debris was ejected eight kilometers with large flows of hot mud. Farmers on the eastern shore of Lake Llanquihe petitioned the government to be resettled elsewhere. Without options, many remained.

Here is a view of the monster, a threatening presence to the south. That is vapor from the active caldera. Today, people live here, enjoying the current moments of their surroundings.

Calbuco Volcano, February 15, 2016
Click me for the next post in this series, “German Club to the watermill.”
Click me for the first post in this series, “Orsorno Volcano and Tourists.”
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills