Carpenter Falls flows into Skaneateles Lake

on the jug path

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Under a crystal blue September sky, my wife and I climbed into the gorge of Bear Swamp Creek to the foot of this waterfall past the site of a distillery where, years ago, locals used to frequent using a “jug path.”

The creek is strictly protected as part of the water source for Syracuse, flowing from the Skaneateles Highlands past historical villages such as “New Hope.” Before merging with Skaneateles Lake, the creek traverses this 90 foot fall, call Carpenter Falls.

You need to climb the steep slopes of the gorge for this unobstructed view.

It is even possible to climb to the ledge behind the water. Standing on the ledge, the stream passes 50 feet overhead. It is a lovely view down the gorge in all seasons.

Click this Link for my Fine Art Photography Gallery.

This site is protected by the Finger Lakes Land Trust.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Indian Summer Afternoons

Each year I make a point of walking Cascadilla Gorge at least once in the fall.  This week on a 84 degree October 9th afternoon Pam was too busy with chores, I parked in “downtown” Ithaca and stopped by the grandchildren’s.  They were hanging out with Mom and were “just too tired” after school to do anything.  Well the middle child, 4 years old, was open to visiting the skate board park and ,for me, that was not going to happen.  I ambled from there, up Court Street, past the Buddhist monk residence at the entrance to Cascadilla Gorge.

The gorge is part of Cornell Botanic Gardens (until recently it was called the Plantations), the organization of the university bureaucracy responsible for elements of the campus.  Cascadilla Gorge, running from Ithaca and through the campus, is one of those elements.  Today, the traffic of people going into and out of the gorge was light and a sign provided the reason: the path was closed at Stewart Avenue, there the bridge crosses above the gorge.  Instead to passed by the Christian Scientist Church on the north side of the gorge and walk up the winding Cascadilla Park Road to the gorge rim trail that climbs East Hill to the Cornell Campus.

The trail is lined with homes, porches on the gorge side where the sounds of creek and falls can be enjoyed.  I was not feeling ambitious, so took a few snapshots with my phone.  Here is path approaches a porch build from the “bluestone”, a type of feldspathic sandstone, native to this area.

Click the photographs for my OnLine Gallery “Finger Lakes Memories.”

This pot is visible in the previous shot, here is a closer view of the bluestone.

The fall to the gorge floor is steep, several hundred feet in places.  The barrier fence here appears solid, in places it barely exists.  A few years ago a recent Cornell graduate, coming home late from a bar on this path, was found dead in the gorge the following day from a fall.  I continued along the trail until the path fork over to the Ithaca City Cemetery where it is possible to climb West Hill to Stewart Avenue.  Turn right to reach the bridge over Cascadilla Gorge, another right onto the Gorge Rim Trail and back down to Ithaca.  I noticed at the bridge part of the work that closed the gorge was a repainting of the bridge and the suicide prevention fence below the bridge.  On September 24, 15 days before, a senior year Cornell student jumped off the bridge into the fence and was rescued by the fire department.

It is possible to stand next to the concrete barrier of the above snapshot to see this view into the gorge.  I enjoy the beautiful view, the sound of the water and leave the dark stuff where it belongs, at least until I notice the bridge and net are freshly painted.

Last year Pam and I walked Cascadilla with our granddaughter, here she is on that walk next to Cascadilla Creek.  There are large and small waterfalls the length of the gorge trail.

I took this photograph in 2005, the September before my previous post, “Autumn Stroll in Sapsucker Woods” with the Kodak DSC pro slr-c, an ND filter, 50 mm lens and a tripod. It was a planned session, I work waterproof boots and was able to stand in the creek after a series of rain-free days. At this time of the year the gorge opens to the setting sun. I waited, taking a series of photographs for the perfect amount of light on the footbridge. The feature photograph (the header to this posting) is a detail from a shot with the bridge more fully lit.

We have this photograph print framed, I had it mounted as a gift to Pam on our first Valentine’s day. It will make an excellent Christmas or Birthday gift.

Click the photograph for this offering in my OnLine Gallery “Finger Lakes Memories”

“September Sunset in Cascadilla Gorge”

An Afternoon’s Exercise Around Taughannock Gorge

Yesterday afternoon was bright, sunny enough for me to break out of the winter exercise routine for a walk around Taughannock Falls, a New York State Park 7.5 miles from the front door through farmland and small villages with views of Cayuga Lake.

The route around the gorge, following the North and South Rim trails with a side trip to the edge of Cayuga Lake is 3 miles with a modest elevation change of about 500 feet.

My route began at the top with a cell phone, from the Falls Overlook, there is a gradual slope, until the end where flights of steep stone steps end at the gorge floor. The steps were free of ice and snow.

These photographs are from the cell phone. Here is the lake and a portion of the gorge. Yes, the lake is a dark blue on sunny days and is ice free this year. Another trail follows the gorge floor to below the falls, I opted out of the additional 1.5 miles today in the interest of finishing well before sunset.

Click any photograph to visit my Fine Art version of Taughannock Falls.

Taughannock Gorge and Cayuga Lake from the North Rim Trail – CLICK ME for my Fine Art version of Taughannock Falls.

I have a few versions of these South Rim Trail stone steps taken at this perfect time of day, the low sun through the trees. Built in the 1930s by Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corp, the steps and the entire trail are a work of art.

Climbing up from the gorge to the South Rim Trail – CLICK ME for my Fine Art version of Taughannock Falls.

The far view of Taughannock Falls always fascinated me. I’ve never done it justice. There are several view points from the South Rim, overlooking the gorge were it bends to the south with only the upper third of the falls visible. The flow today was photogenic. I used the cell phone zoom to catch the view between the trunks of two trees.

View of the falls from the South Rim – CLICK ME for my Fine Art version of Taughannock Falls.

The top of the south rim was the only ice. It is there through April some years. Here is the closest, full view of Taughannock Falls from the North Rim. It is the same view you will find in my Fine Art version of the falls.

View of the falls from the North Rim – CLICK ME for the Fine Art version of Taughannock Falls.

And a cell phone video of the falls for the full effect.

Enjoy!!

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Lucifer Falls on an Autumn Evening

celebrate Halloween on Lucifer Falls

 

Lucifer Falls from Rim Trail Overlook
The full sweep of Lucifer Falls on an autumn evening, the sun hidden behind the gorge walls. Here the Gorge Trail emerges from the shelter of the gorge, emerging into a dizzying view.

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.

Lucifer Falls Overlook from the Gorge Trail
The cliff topped by the Rim Trail Overlook 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?

Lucifer Falls from Rim Trail Overlook
The Rim Trail includes this overlook of Lucifer Falls with, upstream, the Devil’s Kitchen waterfall, the walway of the Gorge Trail in between.

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 2017 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.

Tiny Flower
This tiny trumpet growing alone is easy to overlook.

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.

Pams Asters
Aster heads are many florets with coloring different than the rays.

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.

Hikers
I am standing aside Lucifer Falls. Here the path steepens. The hikers provide perspective.

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.

Ferns with previous growth
The dried fronds are evidence these ferns survived multiple seasons in this place.

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.

Wall of Moss, Grass and Flowers
Nurtured by trickles from the lip of Lucifer Falls, a luxuriant wall of moss, ferns, grass and fall flowers thrives.

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.

Lucifer Falls and Gorge Trail
Gorge Trail clings to the margin of creek where the gorge opens and falls.

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.

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

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

Old Growth Hemlock Trunks
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.

Thin Leaved Sunflower
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

Click me for Part 1 of this hike on the gorge trail of Treman Park.

Click me for more postings of Autumnal Beauty

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.

Mill Waterfall, evening, low flow
Full waterfall environment captured using the 24 mm lens with a 0.6 nd filter.

Click link for “Mill Waterfall at low flow”, a fine art print from my gallery.
Mill Falls
Portrait of multiple waterfall cascades using 70 mm lens, UV filter.

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.

Mill Falls
Portrait of the major waterfall cascade.

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.

Foot Bridge
The bridge is a necessity, at this point the southern side becomes difficult to navigate.

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.

Stone Bench
A limestone bench at the foot of a sedimentary cliff, layering so fine it is difficult to make out the strata.

Want more? Click the link for my Online Gallery

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

EveningWalkTremanGorge-11

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

Asters
A shower of floral stars skattered throughout our walk.

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

Blue Asters
Blue asters, multiple stalks branch out from the main.

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

Look Back!!

Footbridge and Gorge
This is the footbridge at east side of gorge gallery entrance, seen from the east where the trail descends.

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

Toad on Gorge Steps
Toads hide from passing feet at the base of step risers, among the plants and dried leaves.

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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.

Stone work and asters
A fine limestone wall, asters. I need help naming the white flowering plants, there is a vine, mosses and much else in view.

Continued……..

Click me for Part 1 of this hike on the gorge trail of Treman Park.

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.

Want more? Click the link for my Online Gallery

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.

Want more? Click the link for my Online Gallery

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……..

Here is another posting about the Finger Lakes of New York State.

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved