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.

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This site is protected by the Finger Lakes Land Trust.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

A Story Risen from the Mist

The Resurrection of Táin Bó Cúailnge

We did not climb so much as ascend, with effort, the flank of Slieve Foy, a peak of the Cooley Mountains, County Louth, Ireland. The group being cousin Sean, my wife, Pam, and myself.

The ridge of Golyin Pass loomed in the mist where the path dissolved in low cloud. Sean pointed above, to the right to Barnavave, also know as Maeve’s Gap for the queen who came from the west of Ireland to take Donn Cúailnge, the Brown Bull of Cooley, by force of arms with an army behind her.

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A modern rendering of Donn Cúailnge. See link at the bottom of this posting for more information.

Click this link or a photograph to visit my Online Gallery

When cousin Sean named Cú Chulainn, the champion of Maeve’s opponents, the Ulstermen, he recalled a story once lost, Táin Bó Cúailnge. A hospitable siege different from Maeve’s and mist are part of the story of the recovery of this tale.

A gathering of 150 poets, 100 pupils, and attendants strained the patience and wealth of Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin, King of Connacht, when it extended to a year and four months.

Southwest View from Hags Mountain– CLICK ME!!!!
Our first and only encounter with fellow hikers. In the distance two figures appear over the next ridge, a mother and young daughter. She greeted us and challenged Sean to his knowledge of the area. Sean acquitted himself well and we continued.

On that 16th month, the king challenged the leader of his guests to the telling of a tale. Guaire demanded Seanchan Torpest, the chief poet of Connacht, to recite the whole of Táin Bó Cúailnge, known in English as the Cattle Raid of Cooley or The Táin (Cattle Raid).

Click a gallery pic for a larger view.

In this way the king was relieved of his guests: the book of the Táin was lost before their lifetimes, rumored to be abroad. Abashed at his failure, Seanchan Torpest withdrew. Fellow poets and followers trailed out from the castle.

Seanchan Torpest regrouped the host (an opened question is who then supported them) in conference to construct Táin Bó Cúailnge. It was a false hope as the gathering discovered while each poet knew a part of the whole, most of the story was lost. His honor, reputation and self-esteem in tatters the Chief Poet of Connacht, set off with Murgen, his son, and second cousin Eimena to return the Táin to Ireland.

Into mists such as those Pam, Sean and I ascended, the travelers soon were lost and separated.

Magically, Murgen finds the grave of the Uncle of Cú Chulainn in the mists, there to meet the shade of that enormous man, Fergus mac Róich is his name. In the Táin, as related in whole by Fergus to Murgen, Fergus was led by circumstances to ally with Maeve, to guide her army against the Ulstermen. As a deposed king, traitor to Ulster and Uncle to the champion Cú Chulainn, Fergus knew the tale entire.

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View as we approached Goliyn Pass

It was from the mists that Murgen emerged, found his father and cousin, and returned together without the book, but with possession of the substance of the Táin.

Click this link or the above photograph to visit my Online Gallery

Views of Carlingford

Visit the opening chapter of our time on the Tain Way

Visit the next posting in this Ireland series, “Farmland Southeast of Carlingford”

A thank you to Wikipedia, my information source on the resurrection of the Táin.
Copyright 2017 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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Spillway Falls and Hemlock Branch -- CLICK ME!!!!

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved