Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hiking the creek beds at Clifty Falls and climbing over downed trees…

We arrived at the park around noon on Thursday and immediately hopped on Trail 3. Matty and I wore boots so we could walk in the creek. Rick planned on sticking to the banks and taking a few photos. The first thing we noticed was yellow tape blocking off a footbridge crushed by a fallen tree at Hoffman Falls. This didn't bother us because we planned on walking the creek upstream. In September of 2008 remnants of Hurricane Ike swept through the Midwest  leaving downed trees and major destruction in its path. In Cincinnati, many of us were without electricity for seven to ten days (some even longer). It was clear the people in Madison, Indiana had also experienced the hurricane-force winds (which is a very strange sensation when you’re smack dab in the middle of the continent with nary an ocean in sight!). We spoke to a woman from Madison who said further damage occurred this February when the ice storm swept through toppling already weakened trees.

Everywhere we went, we saw toppled trees 
and massive exposed roots.

The birds loved hoping in and out of the root balls 
and made the most of the situation by hiding in the 
dead leaves and branches. Just behind the limbs 
in the dark crevices of the rock overhang a mama 
Phoebe was making a nest. She and her mate 
kept us company while we climbed over this tree.

We walked the creek above Hoffman Falls upstream 
to this gorgeous, gentle fall that cascades over rocky 
steps. Over eons, the water has carved out a rock bowl, 
and it feels like you've stumbled into a secret cove. The 
splash of the water echos all around you adding to 
the excitement of the discovery. If you have boots on 
you can walk to the base of the falls and experience 
the bowl sensation with no problem. 

You can find some fairly rugged hiking here, and 
climbing over the downed trees just adds to the fun. 
Here Matty and I are working our way back down 
to the falls from the "exposed" side.

Just downstream from the Secret Falls (that's our 
name, we don't know if it has a real name) this 
huge tree blocks the creek bed. Getting through 
and around it is like solving a puzzle. To get an idea 
of its size, look closely, and you'll find Matty and me 
standing under it in the water near the rock wall.


hillybillyfarmgirl said...

Great Pictures! That's nature! Cool!

Kallen305 said...

Love your pictures! I can't get over the destruction though. It is funny that you have a phoebe attempting to buid a nest amongst all of that as I saw the same thing yesterday. I guess pheobe's are attracted to that.

Anonymous said...

Wow. You got some fabulous photos of the springtime in the forest. Nice.

Laure Ferlita said...

We saw the same type of destruction when we went hiking in the Smokys a while back (and of course, here in Florida). It sad to see those huge trees toppled like that and it gives you a new respect for the force we call Mother Nature.

Looks like you have a fabulous time!

Chris said...

Wow, a great post on mother nature. Very impressive with people walking around!

Ginnymo said...

I'm so jealous!! But I enjoyed going with you in your photos. Nature is so awesome. But I do feel bad for the uprooted trees. You remind me of my sister. She loved walking through the woods and finding neat things. She even found a Turkey nest with eggs in it!!! That was such a neat photo. I still have it. I have all my sister's photos now.
Great post Kelly!!

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Kelly
Just read your blog report, and some of those root balls are huge, as you say,it looks like a really good place to explore. Such destruction,still that's nature for you,all be it sad at times.
Nice photo's.I look forward to reading your next Blog

Philip said...

You have some great shots here Kelly in Dec 2007 we went to the wilderness (SA coast) and the same thing had happened there it even distroyed the railway lines which a old steam train used very sad.

Anonymous said...

The "Power of nature" Kelly. It does some unbelievable things at times.

Shellmo said...

Those tree roots were huge! This looks like a great place to go hiking - I think I would need a walking stick too to keep my balance there - lol!

Montanagirl said...

Love the photos and your story telling.

Kelly said...

Farmgirl...thank you!

Kim...I loved watching and listening to the Phoebe. She was so cute and sweet.

Abe...thank you!

Laure...with you living in Florida, you experience the real thing a lot. Our trees were definitely not made to endure winds that strong. We get tornadoes, but unless it's a direct hit, those winds blow on by. The hurricane-force winds (although weaker) were sustained. I'm glad we don't have to live through that a lot.

Chris...thank you!!

Ginny...thank you. You'll have to post that picture. I love to see nests with eggs.

Ken...thank you!! I try to find interesting things to write about (but to me anything about a bird is interesting!!) of steel tracks is pretty intense. It's always discouraging to loose old things, they can't be replaced... true...I had never felt sustained winds of that strength. It went on for almost 4 hours...not fun. was fun hiking there and not crowded either. Rick used a hiking stick because he was not in the creek walking in the water.

Montanagirl...thank you!!

Mary said...

Great shots! The ice storm in February was horrible. I see so much damage here, everywhere I go.

The Early Birder said...

The power of nature - amazing to see how tall trees have such shallow roots. I remember the devastation caused by the 'Big Storm' over here in the 80's when we lost many 000's of trees but it did provide opportunities for new growth and habitats.

Kelly said...

Mary....the ice storm was horrible and after the wind storm, I'm surprised I have any tree left. It's been hard on the plants...of the years in succession, it's been drought, ice storm, drought, windstorm, and finally ice storm. I hope this is a nice summer and the weather calms down.

Frank....I know what you mean. The trees are so tall, I would think more would hold them up. It's true....the surrounding trees will have more opportunity to grow, plus as the trees decomposes the humus will help the soil and lots of animals use them too!