Summer Walk

Experience a hike around Taughannock Gorge on a summer morning with thunderstorms threatening

Constant winds from thunderstorm updrafts, I brought along an umbrella just in case.

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Taughannock Falls Gorge on a humid summer morning
Hemlock Forest on South Rim Trail
Taughannock Falls Gorge from South Rim Trail
Taughannock Falls from South Rim trail
View of Taughannock Falls Gorge from the North Rim trail on a humid summer (July) morning. Turkey Vultures circle overhead…they are there most summer days.
View of the first waterfall of Taughannock Gorge from the railroad bridge linking the North and South Rim trails on a humid summer (July) morning. This large waterfall empties to the gorge above the 210+ foot Taughannock Falls.
Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

June Nature Walk

A perfect afternoon, June 16, 2021

Here is a repost for those who missed the video. Please click on video, below and share your responses via comments. Thank You

The Finger Lakes Trail joins Robert H. Treman New York State Park, running along the south rim along the park border.

Today, I started from the stairs next to the Mill of the upper park, walking along Fish Kill Creek, a brief visit to the CCC plaque, over the new footbridge and a steep climb up to the ridge to a marvelous view over the way we just walked. That is a millipede resting on a wooden trail stake.

A word on the creek name. The Dutch word for creek is “Kill”, the anglicisation of the original name retained the Dutch making it, in effect, “Fish Creek Creek,” not a memorization of fish massacre.

There’s one shot of the damage done to tree leaves by hoards of caterpillars…I found chewed-up leaves at my feet throughout the hike.

Then, I re-join the State Park South Rim trail, down the Cliff Staircase to wander the gorge floor below Lucifer Falls.

Up the Gorge Trail with many shots of these wonders including Lucifer Falls, Devil’s Kitchen Waterfall, and the Gallery.

Close with a shot of early Tiger Lily blooms on the south facing bank of Enfield Creek.

I used a new format with this post, with all media in one You Tube video. Enjoy!!

Finger Lakes Trail and Treman Park June 16 2021 – YouTube

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Adirondack Respite

Seven new photographs from the Adirondack Wilderness

One weekend my nephew Chris and I backpacked to Peaked Mountain Pond, the Adirondacks wilderness, in the rain. My son, Sean, was to meet us later. The constant rain made the easy trek into a slog. Our attitude improved after the tents setup and the fire. The skies clear to a brilliant display of the Milky Way away from light pollution.

Peaked Mountain in the light of an August dawn taken from the west pond shore. Siamese Ponds Wilderness, Adirondack Park, New York State. At 2,919 feet, Peaked Mountain is a modest height though it rises an impressive 675 feet in 0.4 mile.

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Looking north across Peaked Mountain Pond from the west shore shortly after dawn.

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We used the canoe as a punt, using a solid branch to push around the shallow pond for short distances, after bailing.

Abandoned Canoe – CLICK ME for more Adirondack photography.
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Mid-morning, we headed up the trail to the peak. I caught this orb-weaver spider web on the way.

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…and a detail. Technically, this is a macro. Did not wait around for the owner.

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Later, in the afternoon, Chris caught some Zzzzz’s in a time out from water gathering. We pumped water through a filter, this is necessary throughout New York State to avoid giardia infection.

Adirondack Respite – CLICK ME for more Adirondack photography.
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The ultimate in peace and tranquility, though disturbing a hornet pollinator can lead to excitement. This water lily bloom was caught with a tripod mounted long lens. Look closely for the hornet at work inside the flower. HHealthy water lily leaves are the epitome of tranquility because they are always clean, giving the illusion of tranquility. Scientists study water lily leaves to learn how the leaf surface sheds dirt. Imagine self-cleaning cloths.

Correction: it is the Lotus leaf, not lily pad, that is self cleaning.

Water Lily Flower with hornet – CLICK ME for more Adirondack photography.

Looking for the perfect photo for your web site and blog?

Browse my reasonably priced stock photography. This blog features seven (7) photographs I published today to Getty Istock and my Fine Art gallery.

License the photo, download and use it. Click this link to browse all my Getty IStock Photography offerings.

Or click this link or any photograph or this link to select a print with custom framing from my “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” Fine Art Gallery.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Young, fresh and green

Hidden on the forest floor

We can roam the woods and gorges this time of year to find these wildflowers camouflaged in their young, green foliage. Here are two images from a June 3rd afternoon in Fillmore Glen with a waterfall. Enjoy!!

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Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Jack in full color with Red Trillium

The Brown Dragon

Brown dragon is an apt nickname for Jack-in-the-pulpit, captured here with Red Trillium on the forest floor of Fillmore Glen State Park. I was down in the mud for the closeup,

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Click me for a post with more information about Jack-in-the-pulpit. There is a great deal more information about Jack-In-The-Pulpit on my previous post, at the above link. Try it out!!

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

May Nature Walk

Our first post COVID outing

Pam and I headed out to Treman Park for a walk to the Lucifer Falls overlook. The Gorge Trail is not yet open due to the danger of rock falling from the gorge walls — the park maintenance staff needs to survey winter damage and knock down material in danger of falling.

Our first stop was the mill waterfall. This was was directed to the mill stream to power the mill where grain was ground to order.

Here is an overview of the Mill, now a museum not yet opened post-Covid. The millstone stands at the start of the foot trails. All media on this post is from my IPhone 7, lightweight equipment for this hike. The automatic upload to ICloud is convenient.

Round trip is four-plus miles, with several hundred feet elevation change. Pam and I discussed a car caravan for our next visit, to support a one-way downhill hike (still plenty of uphill hiking). We need to work up to the round trip after our winter inactivity.

Trillium are in bloom!!

Multiple overlooks into the gorge grace this trail.

More trillium before we reached the overlook. Lucifer falls and the incredible path etched into the cliff by the Civilian Conservation Corps (Roosevelt’s Tree Army during the Depression).

After the Lucifer Falls overlook is this stupendous view from the top of the Cliff Stairs, 224 steps continue to link to the Gorge and South Rim trails.

As we lingered on the top steps the flowering plants slowly revealed themselves.

I captured this tragic image on the return trip….a trillium discarded on the trail. Stiff fines await anyone caught doing this.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Thin Leaved Sunflower

Farm Journalist

“Out in the meadow, I picked a wild sunflower, and as I looked into its golden heart,such a wave of homesickness came over me that I almost wept.  I wanted Mother, withher gentle voice and quiet firmness; I longed to hear Father’s jolly songs and to see his twinkling blue eyes; I was lonesome for the sister with whom I used to play in the meadow picking daisies and wild sunflowers.”

from “Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farm Journalist, Writings from the Ozarks” edited by Stephen W. Hines”

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Photography Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Last Sunlight

A Waterfall in November

Summertime, reckless souls jump from the stone stairway into a cool water carved pool at the foot of these falls, one of my memories of the Treman Gorge Trail.

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Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Red Berries

Jack-In-The-Pulpit one June Day

The many names for this plant are reflective of how wide spread it is. Called Arisaema triphyllum (scientific name), jack-in-the-pulpit, bog onion, brown dragon, Indian turnip, American wake robin, or wild turnip this secretive plant flourishes in moist soils across eastern North America, everywhere north to south. I say “secretive” because the varieties I am familiar with hide the flower under the leaves, three of them growing from a stalk.

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Those of you who know Georgia O’Keefe may be familiar with the form and coloring of Jack-in-the-pulpit from the series of six oil canvasses from 1930, her time in the east living near a spring. There is a spathe, the pulpit, strongly colored in dramatic vertical, flowing stripes, wrapped around a spandix, the “jack”, being a stem covered with male and female flowers.

Around the time my photography habit started in 2002 I was surprised by the jacks growing from the walls of Fillmore Glen, spying the distinctive forms flowing a bit above eye level under the three large leaves. Seeing them was like recognizing a friend in Halloween disguise, the exotic O’Keefe shapes in a known place.

From this gift, an awareness of the possibility lead me to recognize “jacks” in many other places. I have yet to exhaust the possibilities.

2015 I acquired a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 L IS USM lens for our cruise around South American. It proved very useful for an unending combination of situations. Here, it allowed me to frame this specimen, the former covering of three leaves now sere brown and collapsed, the berries revealed in startling clarity among evergreen ferns, Christmas red and green. The strangely named Dry Creek, the driving force of Fillmore Glen, flowing below this humus layered shelf moist with a constant flow from the gorge walls.

The park trails make for a pleasant choice at the start of each excursion. This day, Pam and I visited Cowshed Falls at the foot of the glen, climbed the north rim trail to walk among the hemlocks, listening the leisurely calls of Hermit Thrust like breaking crystal. The time of mushrooms was past in late September, instead we enjoyed the Indian Summer sun and breeze safe in knowing it will not last.

“Jacks” are part of the known lore of the Native American woodland tribes. These berries are poisonous, so beware of handing them. Wikipedia tells me a ploy was to mix the berry juice with meat to leave for enemies. Hidden by the meat flavor, the heartily enjoyed poison lead to death. The plant grows from a thick root, a corm. Correctly dried and prepared, the corm is food. I can imaging these plants an entities haunting the forest, choosing to reveal themselves, or not, to knowing souls. Maybe this is was drew O’Keefe to these woodland shapes growing around the springs of her summer homes. Leisure and an open, wandering glance are important, anyway, for noticing them. Most strangers wander by, engrossed in conversations, memories, evanescent distractions.

Here are other “shots” from the same day.

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

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Spillway Falls with Hemlock

hemlock grace and water

The Dry Creek dam is across the upper, eastern, end of Fillmore Glen. Historical records of the dam construction must exist someplace. My opinion is, somewhere in the federal bureaucracy there is a record proving this dam was constructed by Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s. That is when the gorge trails were dramatically improved and it is logical a dam was necessary to control water flow during times of heavy rainfall and the spring thaw, to allow a full appreciation of the gorge beauty. It is a substantial concrete structure with cast iron controls, two spillways: one never, the second always flowing. This day the reservoir is full, frequented by beavers, stocked trout, herons, blue jays, crows, hermit thrush. The reservoir banks are thick with wildflowers of the season. This afternoon I noticed purple flowering raspberries: a past prime bloom or two, ripe fruit growing in the late afternoon shade on the south side of the dam.

Unlike its name, Dry Creek is perennial, fed by a broad drainage of pastures, cornfields and forests. Year round the spillway runs, feeding into the gorge a constant, reliable supply of water for the many waterfalls for which Fillmore Glen State Park is known. The very first waterfall is on the rocks supporting the north side of the dam, formed where water from the spillway flows over these rocks into a deep, east west gorge overhung on the south side by mature hemlock trees.

I first encountered Fillmore Glen in the 1980’s with my young son, Sean. On Sundays he and I walked as far as he tolerated, about half way to the dam site, where the gorge makes a turn to the south, the trail on an unstable clay bank against a crumbling shale cliff. Rediscovering the park in the early 2000’s, along with my interest in photography, I noticed the waterfall just below the dam many times and admired it for how the water caught late afternoon light over the many grace points created by rock crags like a wedding cake. The angle from the dam path is wrong for capturing this effect. Today was a first for me to leave the safety of the dam path to climb into the gorge, on the south gorge wall, for a shot.

Here is a view of the spillway fall on a mid-August afternoon, 2017. My photography kit for this walk with my wife, Pam, was minimal: a Sony Alpha 700 with a variable lens, the flash and a Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod. For this version of the spillway I climbed into the gorge on the south wall, about 40 feet above the creek. A hemlock tree branch fell across the view, incorporated into the composition. These hemlocks are not a biological relative of the Socratic, poisonous, hemlock. The relationship is a similar aroma when the leaves are crushed. The f stop is cranked to 36, ISO set to 100 so slow exposure time to 1.6 second. Post shot processing via Photoshop.

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Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved