Last Hike

A sllideshow

Thank You for exploring the South Rim trail of Taughannock Falls State Park on the last perfectly sunny autumn day of 2019.

A sunny November Walk

Click photograph for a larger view. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

Click me for the first post of this series, “Cuteness Break.”

A Summer Flower and Waterfalls

A personal discovery of the namesake of an Ithaca restaurant

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.

Click me for a Tiger Lily photograph from my Fine Art Gallery. Click the “View Larger” link for the image.

Along the trail are interesting and informative sheets about the park and surrounding towns. Trumansburg is the nearest village to the park.

Click me for another Waterfall post.
Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Rainbow Falls, Watkins Glen State Park

Want more? Click this link or any photograph for my Online Gallery.

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……

Lovers Lane Observation Platform– CLICK ME!!!!

…….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.

Lovers Lane Observation Platform– CLICK ME!!!!

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.

Michael Wills in Watkins Glen– CLICK ME!!!!

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.

Rainbow Falls of Watkins Glen– CLICK ME!!!!

Visitors walk under the falls where falling water eroded the soft, underlying stone to form an overhang.

Rainbow Falls of Watkins Glen– CLICK ME!!!!
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

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

Ephemeral Water

Rainwater from distant thunderstorms on the vast Colorado Plateau emerge from a cliff wall, Zion Canyon. The fall will last for a few hours, we bore lucky witness as do my images shared below.

Captured with a Kodak DCS Pro SLE/c dslr and a Canon lens EF 200 mm 1:2.8 L II stabilized with the Manfrotto Studio Tripod model 475 and the 468 Hydrostatic ball head. I prefer the details of misting water at the widest lens aperture, focus is clear throughout the plane, excepting some foreground brush.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Endless Searching

discerning a fascinating species

Gulls, an omnipresent element of any beach stroll. Pestiferous, abounding and incessant the gull is simple to deal with. Keep any and all foodstuffs under wraps.

Click for “Florida” in my Fine Art Galleries.

For those who adore a crowd of gulls

Conversely, for those who adore a crowd of raucous opportunists simply pull out the food and offer it to the air. There is more about this photograph at this post, “Lady Feeding Gulls, Cocoa Beach Dawn.”

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Beach Walking

Pam and I developed a habit of hanging out in Florida during Finger Lakes Winters when the gorges are closed for safety and even walking the streets is perilous, stray black ice encounters abound. We trade icy falls for beach walks.

It is natural to become inured to the flight of gulls along the shore. For all my carting along the Sony Alpha 700 with a variable lens ( 18 – 200 mm) there is not a single photograph of a gull in flight. Yet, I have my eye on them until my blindness was lifted by a peculiar individual. It seemed to be a white gull, yet it had a watchful eye.

Gliding shoreline parallel with head down, how could I have mistaken it for a gull?

Osprey occupy an environmental niche along 700,000+ shoreline miles worldwide as a single species Pandion haliaetus. A unique bird with its own family, Pandionidae, and genus, Pandion, some experts recognize sub-species in geographic regions. Ours is the Western Osprey.

The following photograph is of a wing shape very different from the gull.

Osprey Stalking Behavior

IPhone 8 always in my pocket, I captured this clip of an Osprey stalking fish in the Atlantic Ocean surf. You will have a better viewing experience by clicking on the title of the embedded YouTube, then click on the Full Screen icon at the lower right.

Copyright 2021, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

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

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 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

On the Tain Way

A place of myth and wonder on foot and approachable

On Monday, June 9, 2014, cousin John Mills dropped his son, Sean Mills, myself and Pam Wills off at the foot of the western slopes of Slieve Foy on the Tain Way.  Sean, Pam and I walked the way over the mountain and into Carlingford in the footsteps of epic Irish heroes.

Our guide, Sean Mills, proposed the walk and it fell on our last full day in Ireland. Sean’s father and our host for this visit, John Mills, transported the group including my wife Pam to the starting point at the foot of Slieve Foy.

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On the Tain Way– CLICK ME!!!!

Yes, if there is any part of the Tain Way the the mythic Irish heroes trod it is this one over Slieve Foy mountain. The saga, in Irish “Táin Bó Cúailnge” and “The Cattle Raid of Cooley” in English, features this bull, “Donn Cuailnge” “The Brown Bull of Cooley”, here as a statue erected 2011 by the Grange and District Residents Association.

Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford

Donn Cuailnge raged over the very slopes we walked this day. The myths themselves fill a volume and I am unable to do them justice here.

On the way, John stopped at the Old Aghameen School he attended in the late 1930’s early 1940’s 70 years before and we pass through the country soon to grace our views.

Many thanks to the Glenmore Athletic Club, the Cooley Walking Forum and land owners who provide access to the Tain Way.

We had our leave taking with John, who planned to stay near the phone for our call from Carlingford, if all went according to plan. That same year Pam had the first of two total knee replacements. This was our longest hike in Ireland and Pam was not likely to miss it, regardless of any pain. Pam is always ready to smile.

Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford

At start, the Tain Way is broad, green and welcoming.

Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford
Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford
Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford

The western slopes of Slieve Foy hold views of a valley among the Cooley Mountains with Dundalk Bay of the Irish Sea to the south / southeast. It was not long before the view started to open and, then, opened and opened the entire walk to the top. We were graced with a lovely, cloudy, June day. Mist only, no rain. Plenty of wind, not strong.

Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford
Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford
Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford

Farms are all about. Here a farmer attends to the flock. They know who he is.

Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford The lower slopes hold many small stream among granite stones. Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford Walking the Tain Trail to Carlingford

I will continue with our walk on the Tain Way soon enough.

Click for the next chapter of our time on the Tain Way

Here’s a previous Ireland posting……

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.

Click the link to learn more about this photograph’s story.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved