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 seventh post of this series. Click me for the first post in this series.

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Growing up on Long Island provided limited exposure to the great variety of animal and plant life on planet earth. I remember Canesteo, a town just off the western edge of the Finger Lakes in Steuben County, after moving there in the 1980’s, had a marvelous abundance of different plants in the lawn. It was a welcoming feeling to notice this before the term “monoculture” was circulated.

These days the exuberant variety of ferns and mosses in the Finger Lakes are still alien in the sense noticing the small differences between species is still beyond me; or, rather, I have yet to know well all the later arrivals on the scene, the flowering plants and these command my attention.

Close by the Sorrell of my post “Glen Shadows” is this inconspicuous flower, common name Shinleaf, seen here growing in spite of the the wet rip rap of shale at the base of the glen wall on the footpath. Much of the characterization of this plant is from the inconspicuous basal leaves from which the raceme of flowers springs.

Evergreen Pears

Moss and Shinleaf are associated in these groupings, I could conclude the moss provided a place for the tiny seeds of the plant to lodge and take root. The plant is a perennial and stays green throughout the winter, leading to another conclusion: there is a substance in the leaf cells that resists freezing. The latin meaning of the (scientific name) genus Pyrola means “Pear”, the shape of the leaf.

Look closely at the flowers to see the small flowers, the style extending beyond the petals like a bell clapper.

The common name, Shinleaf, is from England where the plant is credited with providing relief for minor injury. I am unclear on the grouping of this plant as a wintergreen. Shinleaf might be included as a wintergreen, and possibly attributed with healing properties, because “wintergreen” in the past was a synonym for “evergreen.”

There are species of wintergreens, in a different family, with leaves containing methyl salicilate that metabolizes (changed in our bodies) to a substance related to aspirin and more potent. I am reconsidering my identification of “cranberry” in the previous post “Red” to be a type of wintergreen high in methyl salicilate and growth close to the Shinleaf.

This abundance of life variety must be cherished and preserved, it can be a source of survival for the human species.

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved


Eye catching color

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 sixth post of this series. Click me for the first post, “The Space Station and the Waterfall.”

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Green upon green upon green, a thousand shades of green grace the gorge of Dry Creek (“Fillmore Glen”) in summertime. Pictured above is another example of a fallen green left to return to earth. Yet the careful observer will notice spots of red.

Solomon Seal NOT

Walking the level the these red might be overlooked hanging sparsely under nodding branches. From the leaf shape you may wrongly identify this as Solomon’s Seal. This specimen, growing on a shale ledge of the glen, reveals sparse red fruit, not the plentiful dark blue of Solomon’s Seal. This is Rose Twisted-Stalk (Streptopus roseus), a member of the Lily family. The two are often found close together. I found no Solomon’s Seal this trip.


The moss beneath the Rose Twisted-Stalk is plentiful here beneath the constantly dripping porous shale glen wall, mini swamps. I am not confident enough to following identification to each the red fruit. From the damp location and leaf shape I am guessing this to be mountain- cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea). The first photograph of this posting is an overview.

A shallow grotto

Finely layer shale in the following photograph is sediment eroded over 50 million years from the Arcadian Mountains, washed into the shallow inland sea of the Appalachian Basin. We see here a transition between fine, fragile shale and another, harder, durable sedimentary rock, limestone. There was a stone on the otherwise flat surface of the limestone around which the sediments forming the shale grew.

We see the detail because here is a persistent, sparse spring. The trail builds created a well here to carry the outflow, preventing trail erosion.

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Glen Shadows

Among the chaos

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 fifth post of this series. Click me for the first post in this series.

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Moss and soil held in place by roots, it is unsettling to pass this place. This entire section is unsettled and unsettling to someone with an overactive imagination, who notices nothing growing below this place, in a gorge otherwise covered in greenery.

This decade some exceptional trail stabilization work was completed. Here is a portion of the trail, near the above photograph, the bank of loose soil held in place with a stepped retaining wall crafted from wood 8×8 posts. Higher in Fillmore Glen a portion of the trail is closed where the hillside gave way 14 years ago.


Gravity working toward disaster is seen as a constant infall, a slow rain of trees, left in place to rot over the course of a century.

Dying trees on unstable creek bank are cut before falling.

Beneath the infall, chaos, this wood sorrell took root on a shin high shale shelf among mosses. The taste of the plant is sour, leading to the name from the greek for “sour.” The family Oxalidaceae comprises 570 species. I till not venture to guess this one.

Also known as sourgrass and false shamrock, these grow on a thread of hope in a glimmer of sunlight.

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Bridge Views

Exploring Dry Creek Gorge

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 fourth post of this series. Click me for the first post in this series.

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Gorge trails follows the path cut by Dry Creek through eons of multiple and various sedimentary rock. The work of the CCC crew (see “Presidents Millard Fillmore and F.D. Roosevelt”) makes it literally child’s play to negotiate a course otherwise impossible to do without getting soaking wet.

There were seven bridges, wooden over steel I-beams, we crossed today. The trail beyond bridge seven is closed due to hazardous conditions, don’t know what exactly. The gorge is plagued with landfalls. Much of the modern work is elaborate wooden supports of the land beneath the trail.

Delved Deep

Every step on the Gorge Trail is beneath 100+ foot walls, steep slopes held in place by the forest and every variety of native wildflower.

I took the following video from a zig-zag path over a difficult steam topography tamed by two bridges and limestone walls sourced from the stream bed.

Evidence of Plate Tectonics

Above, is a view of the characteristic right angle faulting of the limestone base of Dry Creek, faulting produced when the North American plate pressed against the African plate, released, then after pivoting 90 degrees, pressed again against Africa before finally separating with the create of the Atlantic Ocean.

Click Me for the next post in this series, “Glen Shadows.”

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Climb to Gorge Trail

Potential danger abounds

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

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

Selfie Sticks and Petrohué Waterfalls

the selfie and me, me, me

Petrohué Waterfalls are on the tourist track, traffic on the walkway was heavy on the southern hemisphere summer day, February 2016, of our visit. People were relaxed and friendly, the walkway well designed and safe. The wide angle lens was mounted on my Canon dslr, with a circular graduated neutral density filter. This is a filter with the upper third restrictive to light fading gradually to clear and mounted on a ring to rotated to cover the bright portion of the view. I used this successfully in the previous postings to obtain an exposure of the bright sky and darker land (for example, “Orsorno Volcano and Tourists.”). I could not resist capturing our fellow tourists. With a wide angle lens it is easy to do candid shots, such as the following. Most people are unaware of the capability of the 24 mm wide angle lens.

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Unfortunately, in the rush of the crowd and moment the dual use of a configuration for landscape and (candid) street photography lead to mistakes. I did not have the lens hood attached correctly, you can see the hood in each corner. Then there is the circular, graduated filter. In the above photograph, the shaded portion runs across the lower left to the upper right. The subject is watching me photograph the water.

Here, I turned around from photographing the Orsorno Volcano to capture these selfie fans leaning against the railing to capture themselves and the volcano through they are in the minority. The trail is a “dead end”, rising to the point above the falls, where I am standing.

Selfie Stick

We started back down towards the point over the incredible emerald green water. There were three teenagers having fun with a selfie stick. Around them are people entranced by the water, as we werel.

Smile!! You’re on Candid Camera

Headed back, I thought that curving tree was a good subject. Turned out, a fellow tourist heightened the interest of the shot. You see him, leaning against the railing next to the tree in the mid-distance of the following shot.

Here I am, looking back toward the child of Orsorno and the entire length of the observation walkway filled with people.

Click me for the first South American post in this series.
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills