Thayer Preserve, Lick Brook

Former farm land

Sandbank Road climbs from the valley of Ithaca city to the rural peneplain on the way to Buttermilk Falls, we passed the sign for this preserve many times, today we explored this place, new to us. The trail descends to Lick Creek canyon.

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We stopped to enjoy the open space of a powerline clear cut where the trail intersects the creek bed. Here we turned, following the water.

Off trail to the creek bed.

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Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Will

A Visit with Tom and Hen Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving

The Catskill Mountains are not mountains. The Catskills started as a high plateau. Over eons, before the first humans, water, the sun, and wind carved high steep peaks: rounded, forested and teeming with life.
 
October 2008, on a return trip from family on Long Island, we traveled the winding road called “Route 17”, through the high autumn hillsides.

Route 17_FishsEddy_throughTheWindshield– CLICK ME!!!!

 

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Fishs Eddy

As the sun passed over the western hills we stopped to explore a place called “Fishs Eddy”, a town on the banks of the Delaware River.
 

Delaware River at Fishes Eddy– CLICK ME!!!!

 
 
On the east side, facing sunset is a formation that would be a cliff if it was not for the hardwood trees growing from every available nook, crevice.  Everywhere a root could be sunk, roots fed trees that, one late October afternoon, made a hill bright with autumn.
 

Turkey Habitat

Turkeys live in this type of habitat. We took a trail, barely a road that climbed past failed farms and hunting shacks.

Catskill Hillside– CLICK ME!!!!

 

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The Hens Flee

On a level place, in front of a ruined home, we came upon a Tom (male) turkey and his four hens. The hens fled at the sight of us.
 
With barely time to raise the camera I caught Tom and the last hen as she fled into the bushes.

Tom and Hen Turkey Flee the Scene– CLICK ME!!!!

 

Tom Turkey Defiant

I say she, because Tom stayed behind. He stood erect, all three feet of him, defiant and strutting in a direction opposite from the hens.

This is the bird Benjamin Franklin proposed as the national emblem of the new United State of America (the bald eagle won that competition).
Hunted into almost oblivion, across the United States the wild turkey is making a dramatic come back in many places, including the forests and farmland of rural New York State.

A Defiant Tom Turkey– CLICK ME!!!!

This fellow made no noise. His strutting posture and head bobbing said it all.
We left Tom Turkey in peace to his domain and hens.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, my friends.

Tom Turkey Stalks the Ruin– CLICK ME!!!!

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Autumn Evening Hike, turning home

through Devil’s Kitchen to Lucifer Falls

In this third part, we continue hiking Treman gorge, approaching Lucifer Falls, viewing another waterfall further downstream and returning to the trailhead.

 Tiny Trumpet, unknown

I have never achieved a satisfactory capture of the waterfall in the Devil’s Kitchen, a place where the creek flow is diverted south by a projecting ridge. Less than 100 feet later the easterly direction is regained where the water plummets over Lucifer Falls.

The annual in fall of rock in Devil’s Kitchen uproots and crushes plants growing there. There is scant soil, the roots of this shiny purple trumpet bloom took hold in a microscopic crack. The plant is so thin, the flower so tiny it is lucky my gaze found it.

Click link for my fine art print “After the Rain: Showy Lady Slippers.”

After searching all my plant identification references, this plan is unknown to me.  Please help with identification. The bloom is 1/4 inch long.

Not far away, these asters grow from a slightly wider crack.  Pam pointed them out to me. I was drawn by the striking color difference of the heads growing from a single stalk.

Click link for my fine art print “Purple Asters.”

As trail winds around the ridge a stone wall rises on the right and for good reason.  The stream shortly reaches the brink of Lucifer Falls, 115 feet high.  Gorge walls fall away, the trail steepens.  Here is the view from the trail next to the brink.

At hand, on the right, a growth of ferns has survived many seasons.  Flowering plants are, in geological time (across billions of years), a relatively recent development compared to these non-flowering ferns.  The first flowering plants appears 120 million years ago compared to the first ferns, 360 million years ago.  Oddly enough, the spread of flowering plants affected evolution of ferns, an increase of fern speciation in parallel to the rise of flower plants.

While descending the stairs next to the falls brink, look to the right to see this ecosystem, a result of water seeping from the sedimentary rock stratification.

Here you can see how, at lower flow levels, the inactive sections of the fall lip become a garden.  In our climate, the entire brink is active for rare and brief intervals during spring thaws.  Note how, closer to the active brink, the grasses give way to mosses.  Where grasses grow the brink is almost never active.

The trail wall is a lighter color than the cliff, this is how you can see, on the right, the steep trail descent.

Pam and I turned around here.  This is some work I did August 2014 of a notable fall downstream from Lucifer.  I used the 24 mm Canon lens here, cropping the image.  My goal was to include the stair, for interest, with sunlight on the upper stairs; the water in shade.

Click link for my fine art print “Woodland Falls.”

Myrtle borders the trail as it rises from the gorge entrance.

Tree trunks fallen from the gorge walls are left to decay, restoring the soil.  The trunks are covered by moss among a thick growth of myrtle and a few ferns.

To finish, here is an image that may broaden your understanding of sunflowers. These smaller, ornamental sunflowers are, at first, difficult to place. Look carefully at the center, composed of many tiny flowers (florets). In crop sunflowers each of these becomes a seed. In this image, shiny beetles are feasting.

The End of this Evening Hike in Treman Gorge

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Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Autumn Evening Hike Part 2 of 3

Water runs through it

 Portrait of Mill Falls

In part 2 of this series, we return to the starting point. Siting of a water mill requires immediate access to the potential energy of falling water, something called “head.” Upper Treman Park was once a prosperous hamlet with the mill as the kernel. Today, the head that drove the mill is a lovely cascade behind the substantial and intact mill building. Easy walking distance from parking, this is a well known park feature.

Here are three versions of a portrait of Mill Falls using different lenses for varying effects. All were taken in the same season and approximate time of day, being early evening.

Click link for “Mill Waterfall at low flow”, a fine art print from my gallery.

This is the uncropped image used in part 1 of this series. I found the secondary cascade a distraction. Exposure of the secondary is difficult to balance against the primary and more shaded primary.

Click link for “Mill Waterfall Primary Low Flow” fine art print.

Stone Span

Let’s return to where part 1 left off, the stone bridge across the eastern side of the gorge entrance gallery.

This segmental arch is an illusion, the beautiful stone work is the facing of the concrete structure that carries to load of the stone, itself and visitors.

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My composition emphasizes the mass of rock wall above the bench and into which it is placed.  The limestone slabs are from a different source, they are not built from the material removed from the cliff.

Seeds and Flowers

A dandelion on steroids.  If you can help with identification of this plant, please post a comment.

Click the link for my “Ad Astra” fine art print, in my gallery.

Click the link for my “Purple Asters” fine art print, in my gallery.

Look Back!!

Many first time visitors do not look back to appreciate these scene.  When we give advice, our recommendation is to return on the same gorge trail.  The different viewpoints make for a fresh experience.

Mr. Toad

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The are like people, sitting there.  Kenneth Graham’s genius, in writing “Wind in the Willows”, was to recognize the likable characteristics of the toad.  I find myself concerned about their survival, although they must survive.  Earlier in the season they are pea sized.  I resist an inclination to move them to what may be a more promising location, preferably with a stone house and chrome brilliant motor car.

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Autumn Evening Hike Part 1 of 3

It started with running water…..

Over the weekend the handle of our 60 year old Delta brand kitchen faucet broke off, since we moved here I rebuilt it once and replaced the stainless steel sphere, the central control of the mechanism.  The stem of the sphere must have been faulty because it snapped. Monday, I visited Lowes and the sphere was not in stock.  Just wanting to fix the faucet, I skipped the usual vetting of a new product and grabbed the exact same Delta faucet which was, just like the sphere that broke, made in China.  The next step up in (questionable) quality was three times the price.

Running Water

Yesterday I installed a new faucet in the kitchen sink, a straightforward and unpleasant task that took most of the day.  Late afternoon, while resting up, I brought up the idea of a hike and Pam reminded me we had another clear September day.  Last week, I headed out to capture the Mill Creek waterfall of upper Treman Park at the perfect time of day.  It was a day such as this, warm, a cloudless sky, minimal breeze.

Mill Falls
Pam reminded me this evening I was trying to capture the Mill Waterfall of Upper Treman Park at the perfect moment when the sunlight glazes the pools.

I need to get in place a bit earlier.  Previously, I used a 24 mm wide angle lens and, today, mounted the EF 70-300mm f/4 – 5.6L USM lens on the Canon EOS 1DS MarkIII.  Did not have time to sort through the ND filters, so left the UV on.  The waterfall is in a glen, shaded from direct light at this time of day, sun low in the west.  Given the low light, to save time, I decided to set ISO to a low value (125), set lens to the widest angle (70 mm), and frame the shot using the heavy Manfrotto tripod with ball head.

Needed to crop the image for the above result, still not perfect.  I am seeking to full the entire pool in that glow.

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Mo's Bench
Towards the end of her life, my Mom waited for us on this bench while we walked. She enjoyed the sound of the creek, watching and chatting with passerbys. There some out of focus goldenrod right foreground. I frames the shot to catch the flowers and crop out a tree trunk.

Hiking the Gorge Trail

Instead of putting the gear away, I carried that heavy setup on the hike.  The strap around the neck is a lot of stress if it hangs.  With the gear cradled in the crook of my arm it is bearable.

Foot Bridge
The creek is spanned at several points by these stone footbridges, the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps, as are all the gorge trails. This bridge was restored last year. It leads to a marvelous grove of Sycamores.

Needless to say, the pace was sedate.  Pam spent most of the time walking ahead and refusing to be in any shots.  These past weeks, rainfall was light, so the creek is low.  This low flow is a necessary element to a perfect waterfall image.

Golden Rod
A single stem of goldenrod, ther are hundreds of species of this relative of the aster.
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I get some great macro shots with that lens.  With just the UV filter, it is quite fast.

Ferns, Lichen, Gorge Wall
The gorge wall rises to the right of the path.
Foot of the Gorge Wall
Very little of the gorge walls do not support thick growth of mosses, lichen, ferns, flowering plants of all kinds. I don’t know offhand the name of the cnetral plant growing from the base of the wall.

In the Gallery

Creek Pool
Shaped by whirlpools during high flow, the curves recall flowing water.

A memorable feature of upper Treman Park is the dramatic gorge entrance.  When the glaciers melted, 10,000+ years ago, enough water flowed through this watercourse to wear away several hundred feed of sedimentary rock to form a gallery, or hall, with towering, crumbling, walls on either side.

This evening the light was low, the water seemed dead in that it was clear and did not glisten or ripple.  I used these conditions in the above shot to emphasize the structure this pool.  Located at the foot of a waterfall, at high water, the falls fill channel and this pool is carved by river stones carried in the current.  At lower water, the pool is exposed.

Eons of Layers
Millions of years in rock strata.
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Foot Bridge
Spanning the eastern side of the gallery entrance of the gorge.

The footbridge, above, is most often photographed from the western side of a long gallery formed by the gorge carved by the creek.  This is a shot that explores the fine stonework.

Continued……..

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Lucifer Falls on an Autumn Evening

celebrate Halloween on Lucifer Falls

A reader’s comment to this blog, thank you “Urban Liaisons” prompted me to explore the word, Lucifer. “Lucifer”, in Christian tradition, refers to the devil as it was in a time of glory before the fall from grace. The original, ancient meaning of Lucifer is the planet Venus as it rises just before the sun at dawn.  In this sense, the name refers to the bright beauty of the spot.  The effect is heightened at midday when the hiker passes from the relative gloom of Devils Kitchen to the full light and sweep of the waterfall chasm.

Standing next to the falls on the Gorge Trail, the stone wall of the Rim Trail Overlook is overpowered by the grandeur of the 300+ foot cliff. The falls photographs were taken from behind the wall.

Occasionally, we have experienced individuals climbing over the wall to stand on the other side. “Why?”

Summertime thick stands of tiger lilies flourish on the cliff face. Can you find the withered leaves?

This session I finally “cracked” the puzzle of the Devil’s Kitchen Waterfall. I posted the results to the online gallery yesterday, for your enjoyment. Click the link to go there.

Click link for my fine art print “Devils Kitchen.”

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Sycamores and Riparian Space

a Preview of Reavis Ranch

….continued from the chapter “A Peaceful Day at Pine Creek.”

Compare these Arizona Sycamores with the struggling specimen from the last chapter, “A Peaceful Day at Pine Creek.” Many Sycamores such as this one flourish along Reavis Creek, a perennial stream of the eastern Superstition Wilderness. The drainage that feeds Pine Creek is far less acreage than that of Reavis Creek and, when the Pine Creek flow fades in the driest seasons, plants go into survival mode and halt growth and may even slough off limbs to conserve water.

These Sycamores grace a stream that seldom stops flowing, even in the driest of seasons. I had the good fortune to visit the Reavis valley of the Superstition Wilderness in November 2007, when these trees were at peak autumn foliage.

The tree requires a supply of water to thrive. This specimen demonstrates the species growth habit growing multiple trunks with a shape driven by water availability and the environmental context. The multiple trunks may be a desert survival mechanism. In dry periods a trunk or trunks are sloughed off to reduce moisture loss. This is why the Sycamore of “A Peaceful Day at Pine Creek” has a single trunk.”

To encounter a riparian space of the Arizona desert is a revelation, to progress from Sonoran desert spaces assailed by the breath of dry wind, to see the first signs of water in the distance as a welcome fluttering of leaves, to feel a welcome odor of water.

Yes, the first effect of a riparian space on the senses is the smell of water. Let’s finish this post with limbs of the Reavis Creek Arizona Sycamore reaching for the sky.

Click me to visit Michael Stephen Wills Online Arizona Gallery.
Click me for the next post in this series, “Desert Luxuries.”
Clck me for the first post in this series, “Racing the Sun.”

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Woodland…

Fillmore Glen Autumn

…goldenrod…

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…macros.

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Leaf…

Fillmore Glen Autumn

…macros…

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…with moss.

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Fungal…

Fillmore Glen Autumn

…interlude….

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…perfect autumn weather.

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