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.
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.
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.
Turkeys live in this type of habitat. We took a trail, barely a road that climbed past failed farms and hunting shacks.
Click this link to read another Ireland story “The Cloigtheach of Glendalough.” A parent swan and cygnet feeding on the River Cong outside the front door of Ashford Castle in County Mayo, in the west of Ireland. Click this link to read the photograph’s story in my online gallery. Click this link to read another […]
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”
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
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.
Hurricane Katrina approached the Gulf Coast and New Orleans as the sun rose on the West End of Jones Beach on Long Island, August 28, 2005. This amazing sunrise was an element of the unusual atmospheric effects that are evidence of the power of this storm.
The featured image (heading this blog) is my print, “Katrina Sunrise”. This work is enjoyed by hundreds of my clients. Use the link, below, to acquire your own. Custom framing is available.
In the nature of fame, today Watkins Glen is the best known of the Finger Lakes State Parks. The International Speedway of that name enhanced and amplified name recognition during the post war years. Founded in 1948, the course used public roads of the town until the inevitable happened, an accident and the death of a seven year old child in a group of sidewalk spectators when a racer lost control.
The glen predates the race by 12,000+ years formed at that time from glaciation using materials from distant eons . Watkins Glen was known as a tourist attraction from the 19th century for the resort hotel on the south gorge rim, acquired and developed by New York State in the first years of the 20th century.
From a gate off “Lovers Lane” a sturdy flight of concrete steps with custom made handrails lead to an observation platform over the gorge. This feature will be known to many future generations……
…….the fine grained concrete is worthy of a Roman wall, the heavy iron handrails were built to specification as flowing curves unlike what is done today: built as modules and accommodated on site.
In the 20th century the fame of Watkins Glen attracted the road race, the popularity of racing enhanced park attendance. Today, the gorge trail of crowded summer weekends. On Tuesday, August 1, 2017 Pam packed a picnic lunch and we made a late start for a weekday visit. The upper entrance is enhanced by mature trees, oak, elm, hemlocks. We had our picnic under these on a moldy picnic table enhanced with a green striped table cloth and fresh coffee.
Pam is my personal photographer. Here is an example of her work.
To give me my due, I did the driving and carried the 30+ pound pack into the gorge.
Pam captured me in position downstream from Rainbow Falls with a Manfrotto tripod with hydrostatic ball head on which is mounted a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III and Canon EF 24mm f1.4 II USM lens, Tiffen nd 0.9 filter.
It was coming up to 4 pm eastern daylight savings time, the sun still high overhead. I needed to carefully choose a position for a frame in the wide angle lens without hot spots. Here are two results.
The sun was just of the gorge rim, to the right. Rainbow Falls forms from the tributary to Glen Creek cascading over the gorge walls.
Visitors walk under the falls where falling water eroded the soft, underlying stone to form an overhang.
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved