Being the mom of two energetic young people, I am sometimes asked to do things beyond my limits. Beyond my abilities. Just for the sake of saying that I did not turn my kids down, I press on. Such was the case on the last day of our visit at the campground.
We were staying at a state campground called Whetstone Gulf State Park. How the term “gulf” got put into the name is beyond me, as I thought one had to have a great body of water in order to have a proper gulf. Perhaps a better name would be Whetstone Gorge State Park. The gorge I am referring to is deep and…well, I would definitely use the word “treacherous”. The park offers trails that run along the gorge, full of signs warning about the cliffs. There are two trails, one north and one south.
Ben took the south trail the day before we left the campground. Mark wanted to take me up onto some roads that were open to ATV riding, and Ben assured us he would meet us at the end of one of the trails. He had been up with Mark previously, so he knew where the trail ended. Mark handed him his cell phone and Ben was off. After waiting what seemed like an eternity for Ben to emerge, we called Mark’s cell and Ben answered, sounding rather breathless. He told Mark about all the “danger” signs posted along the trail and how there are no fences to hold people back from the sheer cliffs. You cannot imagine the relief as Ben finally made his way out of the woods!
Okay, so back to the last day we were at the park. Ben wanted Michelle and I to hike the trail, as he saw a sign that showed another path to a lookout. I never checked the map, but somehow got hoodwinked into this hike to see a lookout that Ben had mistakenly thought was a fire tower. And so, we began our ascent.
We walked up. And up. And up. Oh, my aching calf muscles just thinking about this (painful) hike. The signs not only warned about the cliffs, but also admonished hikers to be aware of the many pine roots on top of the ground that could easily trip an unsuspecting hiker and hurl them over the cliff. Oh, and rocks. Beware loose rocks. Not only could they send one over the cliffs, but they might fall from above and land on top of you, sending you over the cliffs! Did I seriously need this walk?
Yes, this sign was located in a good ways, and I was shaking not from fear, but because it seemed like we had been climbing upward far too long!
It really doesn’t appear that steep, does it? Believe me, it *was*!
Another poor quality photo of Ben….sitting right on the edge of the trail…More shaking and trembling!
We kept walking and walking until we finally came to this sign!
No outlet? Did we really want to see this “tower”, anyway? Seriously, I was having a little trouble breathing, so I wondered about going back. The kids encouraged me to stick it out, so I did. I suppose they thought they would miss out if I left, because they would feel obligated to walk back down with me!
The trail leading down to the lookout tower made me suspicious. What kind of “tower” is built below the highest point? I remember going up and looking out of fire towers when I was a kid….they were always constructed at the highest point, not below! Note the trail….all the wonderful pine tree roots!
Michelle decided to strike a pose while I stopped for a second to catch my breath!
With all of the forestation, it is impossible to view the cliffs leading down to the gorge. Instead, one can see far out into the distance whenever there was a break in the trees!
The trail leading to the lookout was pretty as one could peek through the trees every so often and see farms and land below in the distance!
We finally reached the lookout and Ben was a little disappointed. He and Michelle did indeed look out, though….
As the kids sat observing, I decided to begin walking back to the main trail. I knew the kids would be moving a great deal faster than I, so I jumped on the headstart!
Up, up, up, yet again. But, there was satisfaction in knowing that the walk back was going to be downhill! It felt good to be heading back down, as the day was heating up.
Along the way, we saw some spider webs that were so eye-catching as they glistened in the sun.
We made it back down to the beginning of the trail. As we walked away, I turned around and saw this!
Goodness, seein a BEAR would have been the icing on the proverbial cake! Also, there were signs warning that hikers were not to begin any of the trails after 3pm. As you could see in some of the photos, it gets dark in the woods….getting lost in dusk could be rather scary!
After we left the trail for our little explore, the kids teased to go over to the swimming area at the park. It was just a short walk. The beach was closed…I guess this was a “pinch” in the governor’s spending cuts for the state. We walkeed about and I took photos.
The rest of this day, I was certain I would never be able to walk again, but as it worked out, my legs weren’t the least bit sore. I guess all the walking Mark and I had done earlier this yea paid off well for me!
This park is on my list of highly recommended! It is so beautiful! It is limited as far as electric hookups go, but tenters would find this a real gem! It is located near Lowville and not too far from the Adirondack Mountains. (which can be seen in the distance from roads in Lowville)
Seeing all these photos made me long to return…We had last visited this area and park four years ago….I sincerely hope it will not be that long again!