Haiku for a friend

So fellow travelers,  one of the many benefits of being in the Bedlam Creative Group is the genuine friendships that have evolved.  My good friend, Kate Rantilla  recently had a birthday. Kate is a  fellow poet, photographer and blogger whom I met a  little over a year ago.  She and I shared a moment of near photographic bliss shortly after we met.  We were driving to our accommodations for the evening, following another car  when the foothills of the Adirondacks came into view.  It was a breathtaking image of airbrushed sunset colors. We both considered stopping to grab some shots, but mindful of the need to stay within view of the car we were following we kept going.  Within a few minutes, we both knew we had missed a major photo op.  It was a moment which forged a bond we would solidify by rooming together during the Bedlam Farm Open House the following spring.

I will always smile when I take a photo of mountains kissed by the setting sun, remembering the moment a friendship was born.  So this one’s for you Kate, friend and roommate for life.

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Creative paths cross

Laughter  heartfelt stories shared

now roommates for life

 

Photo taken July 15, 2014 at Watchman’s Overlook  Crater Lake  Oregon.

 

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

 

 

A Gorge-ous Adventure: Part Six Friends Well Met

So fellow travelers,  the end of the trail is finally in sight. Thanks to my readers who have patiently waited for the series to run its course, a pace which slowed when I went back to work after Labor Day and we hit the beginning of Marching Band Season.  If you want to catch the story from its beginning, you’ll find  the trailhead here.

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My new hiking friends and I were no longer concerned with staying dry.  Watching huge logs and even a full sized tree roll downstream rendered the threat of lightning inconsequential.   Our younger hiker had asked if someone fell in could they possibly swim to the shore. Her aunt assured her the chances of survival in the rolling currents would be slim. The river now raged with enough force and volume to easily move a car. Fortunately within a quarter mile, the trail began to rise away from the river and the concern of being swept off the trail lessen.

To keep her niece’s mind off the dangers of the rising river,  my new hiking friend talked about a few of her Florida kayaking adventures.  Her story of an alligator encounter made me think of my friend and fellow Bedlam Collective Blogger Jennifer Bowman. Soon we were laughing as we made our way carefully along the rain soaked trail. We could hear the roar of the river to our right and often came within view of the white capped latte brown swells but the thunder was receding and rainfall was slowing down to a gentler summer shower.

Along steeper parts of the trail, I would proceed first and my friend’s niece would back track to bring my hiking stick to her aunt, whose knees, like mine, were beginning to feel the effect of the extended hours of hiking. By now, the storm had held us on the upper trail for over an hour and a half.  I had sent a text to my friends back at camp, to let them know I was sheltered and safe, but lacking a signal I knew they probably had not received it until we began our decent down the trail.  In fact just about the halfway point, I heard my phone “ping.” I suspected Lisa or Mark were replying to my text.  It dawned on me how glad I was I chose to leave Sammy back at camp. Lisa would have been beside herself with worry.  They later told me she thought about contacting the park office to let them know I was up on the trail in the storm.  Mark assured her I had a rain jacket, food, water and my cellphone safely wrapped in double ziplock bags and would call for help if need be.  Those double ziplocks were a good precaution, because by now I was soaked to the skin and I knew anything in my pack that wasn’t wrapped up would be just as wet.

We arrived at the base of the trail just as one of the park staff was coming to close the main gate to the trail. He asked if anyone else was up on the trail.  We told them about the Indian family that had headed to the upper end of the Rim Trail and the younger couple that had come down the gorge trail before us. He said they had made it back about a half hour ago. The main park area would be closing because the access roads were beginning to flood. I asked if I could still get to the swimming area to take some photos and he said if I kept my distance from the lower falls and stayed on the walkway I would be fine. So my friends and I parted ways at the parking lot after some very wet hugs.

Before walking to the lower falls, I ducked into a picnic shelter to change into a dry pair of socks. My shoes were so full of water they sloshed with every step and I knew the socks would not stay dry for very long.  However, my feet were very cold and I could feel blisters beginning to take hold in a few spots. Dry socks even for the short walk to the lower falls would be a comfort. I also checked my phone and replied to the text from my friends.  Yes, I decided I would need a ride back to camp because the access path across the river by the lower falls which usually looks like this

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now looked like this…

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No, there would be no crossing at either this or the access path further down the river.

 

I could hear the falls long before I saw them, a roar not unlike the sound of Niagara Falls from a distance.

 

Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw….

 

 

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The staff who were closing up the area would not let me get any closer than the very edge of the swimming area. The water thundering over the falls extended right out to the end of the diving board and was pouring water right over the upper stone patio. Remember, the shot I took by the falls before the storm looked like this…

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 The mist was so heavy I was getting drenched all over again even standing as far back as I was. One ranger said he had never seen the falls like this and he had been working at Treman for over twenty five years. I was suddenly very tired, cold and more than a little overwhelmed by what I had seen. I felt very fortunate to be walking back to the parking lot where, within a few minutes, Mark arrived to get me back to our campsites.

Less than an hour later, now in warm dry clothes, with a mug of hot tea I sat by the roaring fire Mark had conjured up from our stack of rather damp firewood. As I  described the adventures of the day, it dawned on me that my “chance” encounter with the other hikers was surely the bit of good fortune that kept my mind from straying onto a sidetrack of panic.

Thank goodness for friends well met on the trail.

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Thanks for walking this trail adventure with me and remember….

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

 

A Gorge-ous Adventure: Part Five Raging Waters

So fellow travelers, with the ominous rumble of approaching storms urging me forward, the adventure continues….

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The bridge crossing before the storm.

It was a short trek to the bridge which crosses between the Rim ad Gorge trails.  Lucifer Falls, the main attraction of the Gorge Trail, is less than a quarter mile up a steep, but well groomed path above the bridge.  After crossing the bridge I headed up the  trail but a few minutes into the steep climb, a loud clap of thunder had me doing a 180 and heading right back down the trail.  Within minutes the skies opened up and heavy rains had me dodging into a stand of tall pines for some shelter.  Tucked against the tallest trunk,  fully aware this was not the optimum stopping point in a thunderstorm, there was enough cover for me to grab my rain jacket out of my pack without soaking its contents. I threw the jacket on over my backpack, cinched the rip cords as tight as possible and headed back on the trail.  A brilliant flash of lightning told me I had done so none too soon.

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The upper section of the Gorge trail has several sections paved with flagstones, providing stable, flat walking surfaces.  This is a definite advantage in heavy rains when water runs down onto the trail from the steep hills of the Gorge.  It was raining so hard, I could barely make out the other side of the river. The trail already had small rivers running across it, still I knew there was a rock overhang close by on the trail which would provide some shelter. As I rounded the corner and the rock cliff came into view I saw a few other hikers had the same idea.  My spirits lifted because company is always welcome in a storm.  At this point the thunder and lightning was continuous and the light to sound time ratio indicated the storm was moving closer.  Company was indeed a welcome distraction.

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Rain jacket drip drying as we sheltered under the rock ledge.

As I arrived at the rock ledge, everyone began introducing themselves. Among my fellow refuge seekers were a married couple from India with their 10 year old daughter, a woman in her 60’s hiking with her teenage niece and a young couple out on their first hiking trip. As we chatted the rains would lighten then begin with renewed force, although the thunder was more sporadic. Several of us tried to access the weather radar on our phones, but found we had no signal, a common occurrence at many spots along these trails. After about a half hour, the rains finally let up to a light sprinkle.  The young couple in matching LLBean rain gear headed down the trail and the Indian family said they would head up trail to cross back over the bridge. From there they planned to walk to the top of the  Rim Trail where their car was parked.  I gave their daughter one of my chocolate bars,  since she seemed nervous about going back.  “See,” I said, ” its tucked safely in a plastic bag so it will stay nice and dry all the way back. You and the chocolate will be fine.”  She gave me a give smile and her dad mouthed a silent “thank you” as they headed out.

The older hiker and her niece asked if I would take some pictures of them with their phones before we hiked down. It turns out  inspite of growing up in the area, this was her niece’s first time hiking the Treman park trails and she was taking the storm in stride, even enjoying the excitement.  The rock cliff is a frequently photographed backdrop and the tier of slate shelves and flat rocks below the trail wall is a popular picnic spot, in drier conditions of course.

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My daughter Emma at one of the photo spots along the rock cliff, on a previous ( and much drier hike ) in 2012.

Mindful of the rapidly moving clouds overhead my fellow hiker and I urged her niece to wrap up the photo session quickly.  It is interesting how like minds can communicate with a simple look and nod of comprehension. We tucked our phones safely into our packs and threw on our rain jackets quickly, but not quick enough.  A flash of lightning so close we could hear the electric crackle of impact with an ear splitting crash of thunder held us in our tracks. My new friend and I exchanged glances, set our packs back on the rock ledge and leaned against the wall as the next torrential assault poured down from the skies.

For the next quarter hour as the new storm raged, we watched the river swell while we talked about things other than the weather. I discovered my friend was a native of the Ithaca area who moved to Florida. This was, she said, the first time in seventeen years she had been able to visit. She spoke about coastal kayaking trips and wetland trails, which she said were beautiful in their own way but she had missed the trails of Ithaca tremendously so hiking her favorite trail had been high on priority list.  “If it weren’t for the brutal winters up here, I’d consider moving back.”

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Rising river along the trail rock wall.  Usually there are several wide flat tiers of slate and rock visible below the wall where people can sit.

We fell into a few moments of silence then almost simultaneously commented on the rising water levels. The flat section of trail we were on would flood quickly if the river breached the rock wall along the trail. Looking at the volume of water now surging through the gorge it was clear we would be in danger of being swept off the path and into the river once the water ran over the wall.  But the lighting and thunder had not abated any more than the deluge of rain. Talk about being between caught between a rock and a hard place.  We agreed if the water level came within two feet of the top of the wall we would head down trail.  The odds of being struck by lightning were a better shot than the certainty of being pummeled against rocks by the raging current.  I thought about the Buddha rock and wondered where it’s new resting spot would be.

That’s when we saw a large tree, with roots still gripping a good sized chunk of river bank come tumbling end over end, tossed like a wad of paper by the sheer force of water pouring past us.  We needed no further signals.  “It’s time,” I said and my fellow refugees nodded in silent consent. We stepped out from under the rock ledge urged onward by a fresh cannon boom of thunder.

 

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Looking up at the rocky overhang which gave us shelter along the rock ledge.

 

To be continued……

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

A Gorge-ous Adventure: Part Four the Buddha Rock

So fellow travelers, I sign off my entries with ” may adventure find you ready.”  It’s time to walk the talk and prove actions speak louder than words.

Living in Upstate New York, I am not a stranger to hiking in changeable weather.  Summer storms tend to move through quickly but often bring heavy rains, so I made some preparations, packing a rain jacket, extra socks and securing  my cellphone in double ziplock bag in my day pack.

I also chose to leave behind some treasures too valuable to risk getting drenched; my dslr camera and Sammy would remain at camp. Confident in the timing of my trek and the forecast, I set out on the Rim Trail, stopping by the swimming area at the lower gorge to grab a few snap shots with my phone camera.

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The Rim Trail tests hikers early with several steep sections and only one good view of the lower gorge before it winds away from the river and into the deep, buggy woods.

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Still there are always points of interest, like the Jesus Tree, so named for a poem it inspired.

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Several hikers passed me along the trail, traveling in both directions and well spaced distance markers kept me informed of steady progress. So when I heard a distant rumble of thunder at the 1.5 mile marker I only hesitated briefly. I was just past halfway up the rim trail.  If  I turned back now I would end up hiking almost two thirds the entire trail distance without seeing any of the Gorge Trail highlights.  The Rim Trail was just beginning to wind closer to the river and just ahead I knew there were several spots where side trails provided easy access to the river.  I decided it to keep going as long as I didn’t hear more thunder and within a few minutes I spotted the first river trail to my right. So far, the thunder remained a lone wolf call and as I dodged through the small trees I spied an enticing photo op, a spot which also inspired a Haiku I called Buddha Rock.

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It proved challenging to get the shot I wanted, prompting a few moments of regret as I thought of my dslr sitting on the table in the camper. It did occur to me that the shallow gravel beds I crouched on to find the right light to snap a few shots with my phone camera would easily flood with a few minutes of heavy rain and the clouds overhead were considerably heavier than when I started out.  I moved further up the river, where the flat rocks provided a good resting spot.  I had planned to eat lunch at a favorite spot along the Gorge Trail a little later, but I decided to eat before crossing the bridge.  Although I still had not heard anymore thunder, the wind was picking up a little and anyways I was getting hungry.

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I was rewarded for my choice of dining location with several nice bird sightings, including an inquisitive merlin who watched me from a dead tree stump just across the river. He took off seconds before a loud rumble of thunder rolled through the gorge.  Time to get moving and no second thoughts about turning around.  The crossing bridge to the Gorge Trail was less than a quarter mile ahead and that was the trail I would rather navigate in heavy rain.

Ah, one should be careful what one wishes for.

To be continued….

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.