Gorge Jewels

“J” trees and a charming weed

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Friday last Pam and I joined a “James Potorti Memorial Gorge Walk” through Buttermilk Falls State Park where we learned interesting facts connected to one of my most successful photographs, “Summer Dream: Buttermilk Falls.” This is the fifth and final post of this series.

Final Photograph of my “Creek Views” post — not waterfall in distance

Upper Buttermilk Gorge Trail

Below is a photograph of that distant waterfall. Taken using a tripod mounted Canon EOS 1DS Mark III body with the Canon lens EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM w/a neutral density filter (0.6 as I recall) it is from an early morning solo walk, July 2018.

This photograph is one of a series from that day. Here is a link to my waterfall photographs on Getty IStock, including the series captured on that July 2018 morning.

Click any photograph for a larger view.
Natural steps

J Tree

A characteristic of Finger Lakes Gorges is a constant infall from fragile sedimentary walls. Tree roots hold the slopes in place until the inevitable slippage. Tree trunks bear the mark, as you can see from tree to the right of the steps. Slippage moves the trunk horizontal, subsequent growth toward the sun curves the trunk. In extreme cases the tree forms the shape of an umbrella handle.

More examples of this slippage are seen on the right creek bank in the following photograph from my post of this series, “Creek Views.”

More curved trees

Impatiens capensis

Emerging from the gorge, soil accumulates on narrow shelves where this Jewelweed plant grows. Here we leave the gorge for now.

(Impatiens capensis) growing along the upper portion of the Buttermilk Sate Park Gorge Trail in early September, just after Labor Day. This photograph shows the plant growth pattern and the surrounding environment.
(Impatiens capensis) growing along the upper portion of the Buttermilk Sate Park Gorge Trail in early September, just after Labor Day. This photograph shows the plant growth pattern and the surrounding environment.

In Memorium

James Potorti was a native of Ithaca who perished at 52 years of age in New York City on September 11, 2001 were he worked on the 96th floor of 1 World Trade Center.

Click me for the first post, “Finger Lakes Water Chemistry.”
Copyright 2019, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Creek Views

off the path

Friday last Pam and I joined a “James Potorti Memorial Gorge Walk” through Buttermilk Falls State Park where we learned interesting facts connected to one of my most successful photographs, “Summer Dream: Buttermilk Falls.” This is the fourth post of this series.

Starting Point

Buttermilk Falls State Park has two parks, upper and lower. Friday’s hike began at lower park. Using GoogleEarth I see the half mile trail along the lower gorge climbs 506 feet, 355 feet of this is ascended in 300 steps in the first quarter mile. Here is a view of the magnificent cascade that greets lower park visitors.

To my knowledge, nobody has ascended the creek bed at this point. The climb is not impossible, people with technical rock climbing skills and equipment can do it. We use the trail. Most often, Pam and I visit the upper park and walk down the gorge to the top of this ascent. Friday, we walk up with everyone else.

Creek Level Photographs

On a July morning 2018 I walked Buttermilk Creek from the scene of my “Summer Dream: Buttermilk Falls”, up the steps on the right of that photograph to where the water flows across a flat expanse of stone. The following three photographs from that walk were taken using a tripod mounted Canon EOS 1DS Mark III body with the Canon lens EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM w/a neutral density filter (0.6 as I recall).

Click any photograph for a larger view.
Natural steps

Low Flow

The “secret” behind my successful “Summer Dream: Buttermilk Falls” photograph is waiting for a seasonal low creek flow. For the same reason, this is a safe time to walk this part of the creek to capture the scene. See the previous post, “Walking Buttermilk Creek”, for the entry to this creek level walk. Attempting to walk the creek in other seasons can be fatal….there is a plaque along the trail memorializing an attempted rescue during a March flood where two people died: the rescued and the rescuer.

At high water the creek gouged a channel through the limestone creek bed

The most difficult passage was through the above photograph. I walked along that narrow, water level ledge using the tripod as a third leg. Here is a link to my waterfall photographs on Getty IStock, including the series captured on that July 2018 morning.

Time to Exit the Creek Bed

In Memorium

James Potorti was a native of Ithaca who perished at 52 years of age in New York City on September 11, 2001 were he worked on the 96th floor of 1 World Trade Center.

Click me for the first post, “Finger Lakes Water Chemistry.”
Copyright 2019, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Walking Buttermilk Creek

getting our feet wet

Friday last Pam and I joined a “James Potorti Memorial Gorge Walk” through Buttermilk Falls State Park where we learned interesting facts connected to one of my most successful photographs, “Summer Dream: Buttermilk Falls.” This is the third post of this series.

On the path vs. in the creek

Friday’s hike began at the bottom, here we are at the start of the 400 foot climb, 300 steps, along cascading waterfalls.

Responsible Adults Staying on the path

Everyone stays on the path at this point, here is a video that demonstrates why.

Falls along the 300 step climb

Hiking with the grandchildren we prefer the upper park, walking along the road to a place where the creek flows over the pavement. They love taking off shoes and jumping in.

Click any photograph for a larger view.
Children wading Buttermilk Creek, take note of the shirt, “The Party Has Arrived.”

On a July morning 2018 I walked Buttermilk Creek from the scene of my “Summer Dream: Buttermilk Falls”, up the steps on the right of that photograph to where the water flows across a flat expanse of stone. This photograph from that walk was taken using a tripod mounted Canon EOS 1DS Mark III body with the Canon lens EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM w/a neutral density filter (0.6 as I recall).

Off the Path

Here is where the creek bed is flat enough to allow me to follow it when I wear waterproof boots. Note: it is against park rules to do this and the fines are steep, although some summer days it is a free-for-all of visitors in bathing suits, it looks like the beach. This session started shortly after sunrise, around 5:30 am at the best lighting, so there were no witnesses. When the sun shines over the gorge rim there are too many hot spots, the contrast between shadow and sunlight is too distracting.

In Memorium

Friday is the first visit I noticed this bronze water fountain in the lower park. The land for the park was an early 20th Century donation. The inscription text is in the photograph caption.

“This fountain is a token of gratitude to Robert and Laura Treman who led the founding of our rural parks.”

James Potorti was a native of Ithaca who perished at 52 years of age in New York City on September 11, 2001 were he worked on the 96th floor of 1 World Trade Center.

Click me for the first post, “Finger Lakes Water Chemistry.”
Copyright 2019, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Ancient “Fracking”

a form revealed

Friday last Pam and I joined a “James Potorti Memorial Gorge Walk” through Buttermilk Falls State Park where we learned interesting facts connected to one of my most successful photographs, “Summer Dream: Buttermilk Falls.” This is the second post of this series.

Click me for “Summer Dream, Buttermilk Falls” in my Fine Art Gallery.

Many Right Angles, Why?

On a July morning 2018 I walked Buttermilk Creek from the scene of my “Summer Dream: Buttermilk Falls”, up the steps on the right of that photograph to where the water flows across a flat expanse of stone. This is a photograph of that expanse taken using a tripod mounted Canon EOS 1DS Mark III body with the Canon lens EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM w/a neutral density filter (0.6 as I recall).

Click photograph for a larger view.
“Summertime Cascades – 2018”

For a scene from nature there are many straight lines and, even, right angles in addition to the layering of the sedimentary rock from its origin as eroded material from the ancient Arcadia mountains collected on the floor of a warm shallow sea. We learned from Friday’s walking tour this sea was close to the equator at that time, riding on a tectonic plate that’s since drifted north. This North American Plate jostling with the others.

Beneath these rocks were older formations in which decomposed organic matter had transformed to methane gas. When the African plate and this pressed together, the stressed rocks weakened at right angles to the force, each stress point joining others in straight lines. The methane gas pressure from below forced the weak points to open a straight line fractures.

As the plates continued to move, orientation to the African plate transformed by ninety degrees and the two pressed together again. Methane gas pressure was present, causing straight line fractures at right angles to the others. Everywhere these rocks are exposed across the Finger Lakes region we see these right angle fractures.

In Memorium

James Potorti was a native of Ithaca who perished at 52 years of age in New York City on September 11, 2001 were he worked on the 96th floor of 1 World Trade Center.

Click me for the first post, “Finger Lakes Water Chemistry.”

Copyright 2019, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Finger Lakes Water Chemistry

protection against acid rain

Friday last Pam and I joined a “James Potorti Memorial Gorge Walk” through Buttermilk Falls State Park where we learned interesting facts connected to one of my most successful photographs, “Summer Dream: Buttermilk Falls.”

Click me for “Summer Dream, Buttermilk Falls” in my Fine Art Gallery.

Low Flow

Presented here is the original photograph from July 2004 and an second version, produced July 2018. Both were produced at a low flow after many days without rainfall. The first learned fact is a significant water source for Buttermilk Creek and all the Finger Lakes gorge creeks, is ground water percolating through the sedimentary rocks cut through by the running water. The beautiful fall of water seen here is possible because the creeks flow through periods of drought, a lower flow creating these gentle cascades.

Click either photograph for a larger view.

“Summer Dream, Buttermilk Falls -2004”

pH

Secondly, because Finger Lakes sedimentary rock formed beneath warm, shallow seas 400 million years ago, water percolating trough the stone acquires soluble carbonate (calcium carbonate, Ca CO 3), an chemical imparting basic (as opposed to acidic) properties to the water. This characteristic buffers the water protecting us in the Finger Lakes from the effects of acid rain. When the pH of rainwater falling on the Finger Lakes is measured, it is acidic, falling below 5 on the scale. pH is a measure of reactive hydrogen in water, the more hydrogen the more acidic. Neutral pH is a 7. The water flowing in Buttermilk Creek is consistently around 8, in the basic side of the scale.


“Summer Dream, Buttermilk Falls – 2018”

James Potorti was a native of Ithaca who perished at 52 years of age in New York City on September 11, 2001 were he worked on the 96th floor of 1 World Trade Center.

A Brief Happy Movie on the Solstice 2019

a brief happy movie on the 2019 solstice

Walking around Taughannock Falls New York State Park on the solstice of 2019 starting from the Black Diamond trail head on Jackson Road, down the South Rim trail, up the North Rim Trail. We had a great deal of rain this week and the water filled the falls the full channel width.

The header photograph is a waterfall of Fillmore Glen, also in the Finger Lakes.

For a full screen view, click on the UTube icon, lower right of the video panel. The resolution is not very good so I also posted the source videos.

The movie is from the following videos and photos from my IPhone. The quality is better than the compilation video. I uploaded the following videos directly to WordPress. I was not able to get the “full view” icon to work on my browser. Enjoy

View of the upper gorge, above the falls, from the South Rim
View into the gorge from the South Rim
Distant view of Taughannock Falls from the South Rim
Click on any of the photographs for a larger view.
The stair down from the gorge South Rim
View of the forest of the South Rim
The stairs up to the North Rim of the gorge
View of the forest of the North Rim

A turkey vulture soars by towards the end of the following.

View of gorge from the North Rim
View into the gorge from the North Rim
Taughannock Falls and “Ant People” from the overlook
Taughannock Falls from the North Rim

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

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.

Click this link or the photograph for my Online gallery of this offering

Spillway Falls and Hemlock Branch -- CLICK ME!!!!

Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved