Saturday, December 12, 2015

Return to Schiffendecker Farm Preserve

"Return" because I had hiked this landscape before but that was before the train system had been established .I noticed in the sign-in book, there has been a steady stream of hikers taking advantage (as I was no doubt) of the warm late Fall weather. One hiker plus one dog seemed to be the typical sign in. I had no dog with me but instead my faithful companion the poet Michael Czarnecki, who actually gets credit for encouraging me to get out and explore nature with him. I was curious to see how much the woods were expressing the warm weather, having seen a few flowers blooming and having heard the pussy willows were out. The report on that was just a little more left-over old and sprouting new green. Not a whole skip of season or anything. I always feel uneasy when the natural cycle seems wrong, "warmest ever" being a phrase I have heard too often. 

Late Fall landscape at Schiffendecker 
morning light on ferns 

wild onion and moss covered bark

The leaf litter was a focus of my eye as we walked the rolling hills on narrow trails. The path was made easy by bridges over the small gullies. The  Preserve stays above the large hollows which are the major geological features of the place. The soil is the familiar mudslide Normanskill gray slick stuff with vegetative material over the top of it which improves the footing. Michael and I walked every trail including the small side loops. A nice succession of wood groves enriched the experience. The forest floor litter at various times was predominated by beech, maple, oak, spruce, pine. There are some old White Oaks if you like ancient trees.
This area will look very different in April or May. The understory and regrown open places will cover you in till you feel like you are walking in tunnels of green. Now with most all the leaves down you can look into the hills and see more of the shape of the landform.

layers of the fallen

Thursday, April 28, 2011

...Not for the faint of heart...

We hemmed and hawed, we debated, 
and then we decided to hike anyway Da*#it!!

Severe weather warnings? Flood stage conditions? ...never bothered us when we were kids; why should it stop us now that we're in the prime of our Geezerhood!

The trail from the parking lot was a bit wet but when we started out (after a detour down a side road when I was supposed to be navigating from the back seat) things were misty and only threatening to do what the weather channel was indicating as imminent.

The bIRD waded in to sign us up...

The box pretty much disintegrated when he opened it and the list was old and filled up. He scribbled some info about us in the margins and we proceed off into the woods on our merry adventure in the rain.

Most times I am just the guy behind the camera so I chided bIRD into taking my pic just to prove I was actually there this time.

There were quite a lot of downed limbs all along the path from recent storms. This was what greeted us just inside the entranceway.

The sound of rushing water quickly called us off the path and we walked over to the cliffside to see what we might see:

"This is AMAZING take a shot from over here..."

O.K., you should know by now if you've followed our adventures that we can be tempted easily... (((DUH!))) The sound, the view and our boyish lack of fear drew us in. We couldn't help ourselves.

The next thing you know we are climbing down like adolescents at the freak-show ready to plunk down our nickels and take our chances!

It was worth it. Perhaps not very wise but worth it none the less.

Side creeks and tributaries were running in from everywhere.

I even got some nice video!

Check out this rock!

Yeah, I guess you could call this flood stage conditions.


We Geezered our way along the shale-bank against the odds and previous warnings from my son the EMT. ("It's guys like you who keep guys like me employed Da*#it!")

This bIRD know no bounds!

Eventually we reached a spot that was impassable 
and were wise enough to reign in our recklessness.

Of course we had to climb/crawl/scrapple our way up and out.

Not that it was easy...

Eventually we all made it safe and sound 
and I avoided the wrath of my son once again... ;)

We made our way back to the path which was now and again running with water along the route of least resistance.

Along the way we came across a number of creatures not as enamored as we were with the weather. This little guy and many others like him were trying to get to higher ground everywhere we looked.

At some points there we so many we saw them flying up off of the bottoms of our boots before we realized it and could therefore walk more cautiously.

I am always taken by the randomness of how nature can imitate the urban in my brain. At first when I looked up I thought this was bicycle tire hanging in the tree. Then of course I realized it was a vine doing acrobatics around a tree on it's way to the top of the canopy.

Terrain along this hike varies from woodland pine forest 
to hardwood back and forth as you go.

It skirts a meadow that seems to run along 
this entire side of the preserve.

As I said... In and out and back in again.

bIRD pointed out this Trout Lilly and we saw a number of them 
but most had not sensed the Sun enough to open.

The trail turns sharply downhill...

here at this squid-like fallen monarch of the woods.

Off to my left I noticed a "Bridge to Nowhere" 
that obviously once lead to someone's Cabin or Sawmill.

Erosion has gotten the best of most of it.

Through the Hardwood...

and back into the pine again. 
The sounds of rushing water growing louder!

As the water runs downhill so we move downhill...

Finally we approach the crossing 
and halfway point of the hike.

The sign gave Tom pause to seek a dry route 
while biRD wadded right in. 

My camera stopped for some reason (bIRD said it was his magic) so I missed a once in a million shot as he used the tree to steady himself in water up to his knees. 
I being the photographer (and the least Geezerly) was not recorded as I (deftly) walked across the log dry. (...there being no record of it you will simply have to take my word about the "deftly" part!)

With a little help and some repositioning from me 
Tom opted to walk along the tree limb he is scoping out here.

...and of course it gave way under his weight... ;')

Some wet, some dry,
all three intact none-the-less and safely across. we go...

into the deep pines again!

It was actually quite beautiful here but try as I might because of the low battery when I was able to switch settings I couldn't manage a steady shot in low lighting.

It was deep, dark and very lush green!

The rooted floor was strewn with fronds from last nights storm.

We soon came upon a wall 
that lead us to a foundation to an old house or sawmill.

My guess is a Sawmill.

Tom rooted around...

...and came up with the prize of the day!

I found another Trout Lolly...

As we began the trek out 
what becomes a former "Natural" road 
along this side of the Preserve it began to rain in earnest.

"...Buckets of Rain, Buckets of Tears..." 
(...yeah dats me singin'...)

Hey! Take another picture of me! 
...even if I do look like a Pregnant Blue-Meanie!

Its REALLY comin' down now 
and the path is gettin' slippery.

We are acceding to the old roadway now...

This is what I meant by "Natural" road.
(...Slate by the yard...)

No! Thats my reflection!
(...Not a piddle...)

The camera is beginning to malfunction now 
as it and I/we get even wetter.

Yet another rivulet contributing to the flood below.

Star Flowers!

Looking back towards Clarksville.

Can't get any wetter. 
Might as well stand in it and pose for a picture!

Will this ever end?

This is usually my favorite part of this hike 
but it is becoming an endurance test!

Soil being eroded...

turning this rivulet brown.

The Gate at the End O' the Trail at last!

A cluster of Trout Lilies!

Tom gets a phone call, 
bIRD gets his picture of the Trout Lilies 
and we all get wetter!

But wait! There is still the 1/4 mile walk 
along Cass Hill Road back to the car! the rain...

The Creek approaching the road.

...and going down into the Ravine. 
(Or the view I first photographed 
at the beginning of the hike 
looking down now from above)

Still trying to kill the camera?
(NO! These are not Dandy Lions!)

(Mud on the windshield leaving the lot!)

We drove back to Clarksville wet but animated and happy! Real Boys play in puddles!  We stopped at the Quix Mart as Jake Moons was "Closed For Vacation". bIRD bought some eggs & bacon. We headed to my house for Brunch (I Cooked) and Youtube Robert Creeley Poetry Videos. 

All in all it was a great day for a hike! ...if you are not faint of heart!

Gezeer rating: 2 Geezer with cane.jpgGeezer with cane.jpg if you stay... 

Geezer with cane.jpgGeezer with cane.jpgGeezer with cane.jpgGeezer with cane.jpg if you stray!



Here is a link to the Nature Conservancy download map you can and print before going:

This is to the main website: Location:Hannacroix Ravine.