The Thaw at Taughannock Falls

A Friday Evening Stroll through a February Thaw

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Pam and I were drawn outside the day after Valentine’s a bit of sun, an unreliable warm breeze, a promise of exercise. Our expectations were disappointed for all but the last at the foot of the Taughannock Falls gorge trail.

We had a reminder mid-February marks the start of avian mating behavior with this addition to the view from Taughannock Creek, the first large waterfall. For the cold, drizzly excursion I chose the IPhone, in a waterproof case, for the images. The fanicful birdhouse inscription reads “The Old Birds from Pa.”

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The winding gorge takes a general east, southeasterly direction. Where the sun cannot reach the snow was reduced to a treacherous slushy ice mix more nasty than dangerous.

View from the Overlook on the way to the trail. This is the endpoint of our hike, viewed from the gorge rim.

Of all the area hiking experiences, Taughannock Gorge Trail is the only one available year round. The gorge is wide with enough room for the footpath to avoid the cliff edge. Today, there were places were ice formations were throwing large ice chunks down the slope. The park ranges place tree trunks along the cliff base, with warning signs to stay away. Still, there are visitors who stray too close with fatal outcomes reported by local news.

Pam was fascinated by the appearance of snow and ice accumulated on the talus, here seen from the Taughannock Falls viewing bridge.

Click photograph for my “Finger Lakes Memories” online gallery. Photo by Pam.

You can just pick out the viewing bridge in the Falls Overlook video.

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Photo by Pam.

Taughannock Falls bound by ice is a most dramatic sight. I need to post photographs from a 2005 visit during an especially frigid February. Here, the falls have thrown off the ice, leaving this house-size chunk.

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The surrounding gorge walls are continually frost coated by the mist.

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210 foot Taughannock Falls from the viewing bridge.

In more clement seasons the Gorge Trail ends much closer to the falls. Today, it was closed as, during winter and especially thaws, blocks of the sandstone cap break away to fall with great force across that part of the trail. This viewing area is visible in the Falls Overlook video.

Click Me for another Finger Lakes winter post.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Reveal

SONY DSC

The elements come into focus, revealing Ludlowville Falls, near Lansing, New York.  On the eastern side of Cayuga Lake, Salmon Creek plunges 35 feet over this limestone shelf.  Pioneers constructed a grist mill at this site.  

Here we see The Fang hanging over the entrance to The Cave.  There is falling water overall, but especially the center section (can you see it?).  The weight of accumulated ice fractured a portion of the frozen cascade. 

The Cave?

The Object Comes Into View

Flowing water eroded away until this durable limestone strata.  The majority of sedimentary rock is shale, only 6% is limestone.  Throughout the Finger Lakes and elsewhere, this is why when flowing water exposed the edge of a limestone strata, the underlying, soft shales are worn away to reveal a waterfall, ever deepening.  Eventually, the support of the limestone washes away to form this ledge.  Here it is an ephemeral cave behind a curtain of ice.

See “The Fang?” for the first post of this series.

Keuka Terroir

a vineyard in context

Here is a fourth post from a trip Pam and I enjoyed to the Dr. Frank Winery on the west side of Keuka Lake.  The previous posts are “Keuka Lake Winter I”, “Iron Grace”, “Keuka Lake Fall Winter”.  Let’s talk about the environment of these vineyards.

For this photograph I came down from the overlook building, right next to the vines, where it all starts, each plant growing from and clinging to the soil.  Genetics play an important role, particularly the epigenetics, the expression of a crop’s genetic traits as affected by the context of the local environment.  Here we see row after row of vines on the west side of Keuka Lake, the land sloping enough so the lake is clearly visible below.  On the other side the land is clearly forested with few, if any, vines, on a steeper slope.  There is more sunlight on the west side, the land tilts a bit to the southeast and northwest on the east side.  In the northern hemisphere, a southern exposure means more sunlight.    

There is a geological reason for this topography.  In this part of New York State sequential, long plates of land aligned on a general north-south axis each sloping to the east causing longer, more gradual slopes on the east side and, one the west shorter, steeper slopes as we see in this photograph.  The crease where the plates meet is where each of the Finger Lakes formed.  It is the combination of the lake water holding of warmth and the long slope exposure to sunlight that creates a microclimate favorable to the vines.  

Click this link for another posting about the Finger Lakes.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Sandfall

explore a slot canyon

Here the red rock of the northwestern corner of the Navajo Nation was pulverized into sand by the action of wind, water, sun and cold.  The red sand flows here over a water-shaped bench, having blown into the darkness of a narrow canyon, called a slot.

I waited in the dry darkness of upper Antelope Canyon for the perfect moment to capture the spirit of the place.

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Click this link for another Arizona post, “A Dry Piece of Paradise.”

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Above Muirthemne Plain

Romance of Ruins

This series of posts started with “Proleek, Grandfather McCardle’s home” where we explored the site of great grandfather James McCardle’s Proleek farm.  A kilometer from there, at Proleek Dolmen, the ancient portal stones line up to face the plain rising to Slieve Gullion, a name for the mountain taken from the Irish,  Sliabh gCuillinn, meaning “mountain of the steep slope” or Sliabh Cuilinn, “Culann’s mountain.”

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There is an connection between Proleek and Slieve Gullion.  Cycles of Irish Myth place a boy named Sétanta living on Muirthemne Plain, of which what we call Proleek Townland was a part.  One day, the king Conchobar was passing his kingdom, Muirthemne, on the way to a feast on the slopes of Slieve Gullion hosted by the blacksmith Culann when he stopped to watch boys playing hurling, Sétanta among them (it is ironic the Proleek Dolmen is surrounded by a golf course in modern times).

Impressed by the Sétanta’s skill, the king invites him to the feast.  Having a game to finish Sétanta promises to follow.  As evening falls the boy approaches the smith’s house to find himself attacked by a huge, aggressive dog.  Acting in the moment, Sétanta dispatches the dog with the hurley and ball he had at hand, driving the ball down the hound’s throat.  (In another version he smashes the hound against a standing stone.)

Feeling Culann mourn the loss of his beloved animal, Sétanta promises to raise and train a guard dog equal to the one he slew.  Until that time he also pledged to guard Culann’s home.  From that time Sétanta was known as “the hound of Cullann”, Cú Chulainn in Irish.

References
Wikipedia articles “Slieve Gullion” “Cú Chulainn” and “Conaille Muirtheimne.”

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Wilderness Textures

Abstract Beauty of the Superstition Wilderness of Arizona

These abstracts are some of my photographic output from four days and nights spent alone in the remote eastern Superstition Wilderness.  For the first three days I met not a soul, all these images were captured on a single afternoon spent in the canyon below Reavis Falls, a jumble of landslides, flood debris and boulders.  There is no trail.  The few people who enter the canyon must negotiate around boulders, crossing Reavis Creek many times.

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Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

My backpack kit included a full sized Manfrotto studio tripod with hydrostatic ball head.  The benefits more than outweighed the effort (I was a lot younger in 2008) when the Canon EF 100mm (macro) lens is mounted on a  Kodak dSLR body, allowing me to take crisp shots.  The tripod legs can be adjusted to precise positions for stability.

Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

I can feel the bright afternoon desert spring sunshine in this photos.  It was after the spring floods, the flow of Reavis Creek and ample still but slow.  Gathering in pools over the rough stones of the creek bed, the water absolutely clear.

Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

I held the shot over many minutes, capturing ever changing diffraction patterns.

We see in all these photos, not a homogenous blend of stones from a shared geology.  Reavis Creek washes over diverse geologies: volcanic, ancient igneous extrusions, sedimentary and metamorphic are jumbled together.

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Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

This is a series of photographs of smooth, white igneous boulders with shadows of  still leafless sycamore and cottonwood trees.

Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

Graceful shadows

Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

Strong, demonstrative shadows.

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Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

A leaning cairn, not a trail marker….

Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

A 15 foot high jumble of stones piled at the bottom of Reavis Falls, carried over by the floods.

Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

A metamorphic conglomerate stone….

Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

Another metamorphic conglomerate.

Reavis Creek Water and Light – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

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Here’s another of my Arizona wilderness adventures, “Racing the Sun.”

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved