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.

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