Chimney Bluffs Adventure- Part 1

note: Carly previously beat me to the punch and published her entry for the Chimney Bluffs first.  (sniff, sniff!)  In her post, she gives a brief explanation regarding the formation of these unique “chimneys”.  Carly was  an Earth Science teacher, so I believe she knows of what she speaks! You can find her explanation here….  http://mockingbirdimagery.wordpress.com/

*** ARGH!  It is nearly 8pm and I published this post several hours ago.  The problem is, it disappeared!  I cannot fathom what hapened. I was sure I had pressed the “publish” button, but the post is no longer there.  I began the Part 2 post when I realized the first post was not there. All of the photos are in the gallery (thank heaven!!!)  but everything I had spent time writing is now gone.  Thus, I am beginning anew.

Yesterday morning,  Carly called us just as we were leaving home.  I talked to her and told her we were going to go to Chimney Bluffs State Park, located on Lake Ontario. (one of the Great Lakes)   As you might have heard, our illustrious governor of New York State has threatened to close 55 state parks and historical sites to save the state from bankruptcy.  Mark thought that “just in case” ,  we should visit the park as it is included in the roster of closures.

Carly said she thought her kids would love to go to the park as well, so she would try to formulate a plan and get back to us.  We ended up meeting late in the morning.  Carly came along with her kids, Kyle, Sarah, and Erin, as well as her mother-in-law, Madeline.  We were so anxious to get going, so we all tumbled out of the vehicles and started off on our beachside journey.  Mark would not be able to traverse the terrain in the wheelchair, so he stayed in the truck with Angus and Murphy.

Carly explains on her post that erosion accounts for about three feet of loss to the bluffs each year.  When we arrived at the beach,  as we walked along, we noticed what looks like red clay at the bottom of the bluffs.  It would appear that a great deal of the banks are cut back and wash down into the lake below.  As you can see in the following photo,  the turf does appear to be claylike with deep cracks where it had dried.

Some of the formations on the bluffs reminded me a great deal of castles Bill in Scotland had shown on his blog! They really did look much more like buildings than “chimneys”!

There were several places along the beach where streams ran down the bluffs, forming gullies where water mixed with the clay, forming a solution that resembled chocolate milk!  Some of these places left great gaps in the path and we would have to scurry quickly to cross before the next wave splashed up again.  Carly termed the lake as being very “angry” and I think that was a very good description!

I really like this photo.  It has a look of  “mystique” to it and the sky did a great job of adding to it!

As you can see in the next photo, the pathway that we followed was very narrow.  Carly said that the last time she was here, the beach was much wider to walk along.  The lake appeared to ge higher and as you can see, there is much clay that has slid down from the bluffs to the left.  The tricky thing about the stuff that slid down was that although much of it was hard like a walkway, every now and then, it was soft underneath and if one were to step on the soft areas, their footwear would sink down and feel as though it was about to be suctioned off!  Ben and kyle stepped into some of the soft areas, but thankfully, they kept their shoes intact!

Unfortunately, Madeline discovered the irregular pathway was hard on her knees, so she turned back and went to sit in arly’s Jeep.  As it worked out, it was nice for Mark as he and Madeline had a very good and lengthy conversation. Mark really enjoyed the company!

Tis always such a treat to capture kids in a photo, unaware!  The lake was so loud and noisy, the only way to hear one another speaking was to listen intenly.  Thus, I was able to catch Michelle and Erin deep in conversation!

You can see just how high the bluffs rise, as Ben and Kyle look like little ants walking along the beach.

Nature provided some very interesting artwork….

The crew….Carly has been experiencing some excrutiating back pain, so she had to move slowly along.  Here she is resting upon a large rock.

And another wonderfully “mystical” shot……

What a terrific piece of driftwood that looks as though it began as a piece someone was cutting into firewood before it went into the lake.  The rocks have  polished it to a smooth piece of wood!

Kyle, Ben, and Carly…

This poor tree is hanging horizontally from the cliff!

Nature’s very cool mosaic…

I’m not too sure why Ben chose to walk out into the water to stand on this rock.  The air was so cold, we all kept our hands tucked in our pockets.  We all had rosy cheeks from the cold and wind!  But Ben….

I would normally scorn such behavior, but he certainly did look impresive standing on that rock with the waves splashing up around him.  Mark said if the waves were just a little higher, it would have looked like Ben was “walking on the water”!

We carefully made our way back to the parking lot where we had started and the kids were ansty to continue on with the adventure.  I had found the walk very stimulating and I was game to go along with the kids…..

The Chimney Bluffs Adventure-Part 2

As I stated in my previous post,  the kids were still full enough of energy to want to hike the path that runs from one end of Chimney Bluffs State Park to the other.  I am uncertain how far this little jaunt is, but it was a nice walk for sure. Well, except for the challenges…

A nice set of wooden stairs, built from pressure treated lumber led to this sign.  I gingerly hopped up the stairs with great ease…no problem.  Carly and Madeline would meet us over in the other parking lot in Carly’s Jeep, along with Mark in our truck.  After the stairs ended, we commenced up the hill.  Did I say “hill”?   I think the grade on this incline is about eighty-five degrees. 

Kyle, Sarah, and Ben seemed to mount the grade with ease and gracefulness.  Thankfully, I didn’t feel totally defeated as little Erin confided that she has “bad knees”.  Thus,  Michelle and Erin followed behind me, never complianing that I was moving too slowly!  As we climbed (and climbing on hands and knees would have been a VAST improvemnent), I could hear the sound of my heartbeat gushing in my ears. Every joint in my hips, knees, ankles, and even my toes were burning! Just a few feet from the summit, I was sure my eyeballs were going to pop out from their sockets.

Fortunately, the end of the climb came and I was victorious!

At the highest peak, it was scary looking down!

Ben had to strike a cool pose….

We sauntered along the pathway enjoying all the beautiful sights.  However, many times along the pathway the path changed from a hard packed surface to “muck”!  Icky, sticky, gooey muck. We would walk through prickers, briars, and bramble to avoid the rich black muck.  Oh, did I mention it was also slippery?

Erin was thrilled as she observed several varieties of moss growing in te woodland and on rocks.

The boys sometimes cantered off ahead, and other times meandered behind.

As we walked the pathway, there were times when the path ended. Abruptly! See the tree below?

Now envision that tree right along the path just a few months ago! See the rich black soil where the tree once *was*??

Perhaps Erin will grow up to be a Botanist.  As I said, she is enamored when it comes to moss.

Where did Michelle wander off to?  Hmmm…..

And on we hiked, the six of us.

Many times we walked across logs to avoid the muck, while other times, it was just, well…fun!

When I decided to go on this hike, I switched out my cameras from the Nikon to the little Panasonic.  Drat…Sarah had struck such a lovely pose, looking out over the lake below.  By the time the camera fired, she caught me!

I can see how trees tumbling down the bluffs could easily take away three feet along the top!  These trees that fell were very large!

Another fail was when I tried to capture Ben up on top of this tree stump.  Of course, by the time he was in focus and I was prepared to snap, Ben jumped down.  Another drat!

And on and on we wandered.  At this point, we had encountered what looked like a huge bog along the path.  I led the way as we made a detour.  Erin looked bewildered and asked if I knew where I was heading?

See this log?

*If* we chose NOT to balance our way across it, guess where the “real path” was?

Uh huh!  Now who would mind walking in water who knows how deep with sneakers on our feet?  And, of course, if that muck was beneath that water, how far **down** would we sink?

Well, Erin walked across the log with her walking stick….no problem.  Sarah and Michelle gracefully crossed unassisted.  Kyle also had a walking stick and was surefooted.  Then it was my turn.  I began walking out, placing my feet carefully on the log.  As I took my third step,  I realized that were I to slip off the log,  I would land in who knows what?  And if I fell and landed on my camera, or the camera landed in the mud…..

“Kyle! Can I use your walking stick?”

Kyle came back with two.  His stick as well as Erin’s.  He gave me his, the more hefty stick.  Ah, now to cross.  I couldn’t believe how easily I walked across with that stick giving me a little more balance.

Shortly after crossing the most challenging part of our hike, we could see a clearing ahead! Yes, we were finally out of the woods! Hurrah!  This was the view…

We made our way back to the others waiting for us.  What an adventure, indeed!  We laughed and had so much fun, it really was a good time for everyone…challenges and all!