Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hocking Hills State Park- Part Two

Yesterday the rain stopped, but it remained cool and overcast.  However, we had a wonderful day and hardly gave much thought to the weather.  Returning home that evening I discovered that I had taken close to 300 pictures!  Part of my problem the whole day was that I could not figure out whether to concentrate my photography on the large rock formations, cliffs, fall colors, towering hemlocks and oaks, various ferns, or the last wildflowers of the year.  We saw a lot of God's wonderful world, to put it simply.  Ash Cave was our first stop, and we were surprised to find the parking lot almost full.  The cave was given its name because of the large pile of ashes found here by early settlers.  The pile, measuring l00 feet long, 3 feet deep and 30 feet wide, was believed to be the campfire ashes of Native Indians which had been built up over the years.
The massive recessed cave measures 700 feet wide and 100 feet high.  It is believed that ancient people were here 8,000 BC, they left their mark in the stone in the form of sharpening grooves and effigies.  Our next stop was Conkle's Hollow.  As we walked into this nature preserve we were soon surrounded by sheer cliffs rising nearly 200 feet above the valley floor.
The deep gorge at Conkle's Hollow measures 100 feet wide at places.  As we walked through the gorge we noticed the cliffs literally closing in on us, in other words, the gorge was becoming narrower.  In the dark recesses of the gorge ferns and moss seem to take over.  Many of them are draped over the slumps, or rocks which litter the valley floor.  The boulders, as pictured below, once clung to the bedrock walls of the hollow.  Our walk through the gorge ended at a large rock shelter similar to the one we had seen at Ash Cave, although it was not as massive.
I would say our most awesome area of the day was our next stop, the rock house.  It is a massive cavernous corridor with natural Gothic looking windows-like openings.  A park brochure claims that it is the only true cave in the park.  The house is situated midway up a 150-foot cliff and has a ceiling which is 25 feet high.  It is quite colorful with  shades of brown, red, and orange splashed on its walls- that is caused by iron staining.
Our last stop of the day was at Cantwell Cliffs.  Here we had a choice of winding our way between large boulders on the valley floor or getting a good view of the cliffs and rock shelters from the rim trail.  I think we did a little of several trails, it all became quite confusing to me after awhile.  We saw more slump rocks, which here have created some very narrow passage ways.  Pictured below is what has been called Fat Woman's Squeeze.  Hiking through this area was just as thrilling as all the other places we had visited.
I am writing this posting now from Virginia.  We saw some beautiful fall colors driving through the hills of West Virginia.  Not sure whether we want to drive Highway 50 again, however.  John had to contend with some very steep grades and our motor home certainly got all shook up with the wild swinging around the curves.  However, the scenic vistas made it all worthwhile.

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