Thursday, August 13, 2015

Chimney Rock View of the World

Hunter(my nephew) pretending to fall.

Chimney rock is known only to the few who have dared climb the mountain to stand on it. As you are driving south on 414 just about 1/3 of a mile before you get to the Cedar Run Creek bridge if you look carefully on the side of the mountain you will see a outcropping of rock shaped like a chimney. It is easier to see when the leaves have fallen. The climb is treacherous, steep slope of loose rocks varying from about a 30 degree slope to close to a 60 degree slope. It can take a good hour to get to the top unless you are in excellent shape.  It is sort of a blind climb as you can not really see the rock as you are climbing. I like having a rope not so much for the way up, but for the way down to keep from going too fast down. The pictures were taken a few years back when my nephew was a bit younger than now. Also as you can see it keeps brave children from causing their aunt to be a bit nervous when they are close to the edge. Don't climb when wet or icy or you may not come back in one piece...although I know a person who if they read this know who they are that climbed in multiple times on New Years Eve. I would say don't ever do that. Climb on a cooler day as it will take all of your strength and the heat will add to the difficulty.
Once you get to the top the world is yours. You feel like you are flying over Pine Creek. You can see Cedar Run below you and if you are brave enough to be at the edge there isn't anything that matches the quiet breeze and view. I often felt like an eagle soaring so much that you think you could step off and fly with them. But don't do that either unless you suddenly sprout wings you will only have a few seconds to enjoy the view. I am feeling it is time for another trip up there soon when the weather cools and I have a good supply of water for the climb. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.
Hunter and his sister Abbey point to Chimney Rock

Top of Chimney Rock...Hunter

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Creek Walking and Perspective

Buck Run

Buck Run water path

Water garden
Elk Run Vista
When I was a kid(a few years before they had water shoes), I used to walk a mile down Buck Run in my tennis shoes. I would try to spot the elusive native trout and look for interesting rocks. A special rock would already be shaped like an animal or arrow head anything that caught my eye. I would imagine being an Indian Scout looking for food or traveling a long distance in an unknown land. In places where the hemlock branches overhang the creek it can form a dark tunnel and you often feel like you are in another land. The pools of water that form in areas where large flat rocks lay make you feel like you had your own secret swimming area. It was always cool on those creek walks even on the hottest days the spring fed creek was cold enough to give your feet a little shock when you first stepped in. And of course for the unknowing visitor, whom we liked to trick, we would beckon them to jump into the pool on a hot day delighting in seeing the shock on their face when the cold water covered them.

The creek has many hidden surprises from the small water plants like mint, when you step on it the mint smell fills your nose, to the moss covered rocks that appear like carpeting until you step on them wrong and find out they are more like a slip and slide as they take you to your knees or worse. As a child I rarely fell.  I walked down the creek like a water bug jumping from one rock to another. At 62, I find I judge the rocks and steps carefully testing for sturdiness and slipperiness. In my head I am still the limber youth running in the creek dashing from rock to rock. I remember as soon as my feet walk through the cold water again and  I enter the unknown land. The joy of discovery of what is just around the corner will never leave me even if it takes a bit longer to go around the corner.

The water this time of year is running low and is the best time to creek walk. You can go places that would in high water be impossible. You can find trees whose roots are clinging to the sides of the cliffs and incredible rock outcroppings, and rocks as large as cars that have been effortlessly moved by mother nature during high water. There are numerous flat rocks to skip across the pools large and small. You can follow a creek to its origin and see where everything starts or you can follow it downstream and end up in larger and larger creek until you are at Pine Creek or even an ocean for the very dedicated.

We live in a wonderful time when we can use google maps to see the crevices carved in the mountains that our streams come from and see how they are connected. This can be a wonderful way to choose a creek to walk or just walk up to one and introduce yourself and start the journey. You can never be lost walking a creek as long as you don't leave it you can follow it back to where you started. When lost in the woods it is an excellent way to find your way out. Follow it downstream until it gets bigger it will eventually lead you to a road or civilization. It is easy to follow even in the dark. I learned this a child of about 11. I walked into the woods a little too far away from my grandfather and made a wrong turn. It was getting dark so I ran to get out faster. I ran the wrong way. It was only until I stopped and followed the creek I found my way out. Even a young child can navigate this way and it is a good skill to know.

My last picture is a view off Elk Run seems in contrast from being in the creek but you can see mountain after mountain that when it rains all drain into the wonderland I call my creek wonderland. It takes you from the perspective of the small creek plant in a small creek to seeing many mountains with creeks. My grandmother used to scold me for ruining my tennis shoes walking the creeks of the forest. Now with my water shoes on, I don't have to ruin a pair of sneakers to go for a walk in the cool creeks of Tioga Forest. Join me you will be glad you did. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.