Imagine a river, carving out, over the course of time, a hollow in which now just a small waterfall feeds a clear, clean pool. Cliffs above have trees perched right to the edge, and there is an abri all around, not deep enough to form a cave, but deep enough for protection from the rain.
We pulled into the parking lot, as the Preserve was open that Friday. It isn't always -- they have to test the water, and if any of the measurements are off, it is closed. They want to keep it pure and pristine, so swimming is also limited. Often on Saturdays it is full before 9am, so it was that day or not at all.
Except for a port-o-potty halfway down, it was use the facilities at the top of the path, or not at all. In keeping with the wildness of the area, it is a composting toilet, no water needed.
CanDo and Mr. Eagle lugged the ice chest toward the path, and several of us called after them to go part way and let someone else switch. They never did, but had it all the way down by the time we got there, lugging the rest of the bags and towels.
The beginning of the trail to the split belies the trip down. A simple sign says .6 miles one way to the river, and .25 miles the other way to the pool. It is a two tenths that is mostly climbing, up or down, very slippery. Pick your way with care, I am usually very sure footed and even I took a spill on the way down (bad ankle -- surprisingly, the knee gave me no trouble).
Being so careful on the way down gave me pause to really look at the rocks and flora I was passing. Every tiny crevice of rock that had even the littlest bit of soil had something growing in it. There were lichens and moss growing in profusion, and I loved the beauty berry bushes, with the purple clusters of berries looking lovely. I'm not one to be able to identify plants, especially since I can't grow anything but crabgrass to save my life, but that doesn't stop me from looking at an admiring the rich variety growing out there in the wild. The signs to stay on the path were wasted on me, as I had no intention of getting myself out there with the poison ivy -- its one of the few that I do recognize, in self defense.
I enjoyed the challenge of leaping rock to rock over the small outflowing stream, and managed to get onto the rocky beach with my socks still dry. We all gathered and set out the food, sandwiches and chips, baby carrots and fresh raw string beans, dried fruit and even the flash fried dried vegetables. I had promised Blossoming I would try a couple of those, and did. Not bad, for fried food. I still prefer low temp dried kale snacks, but again, I'm weird that way.
Everyone ate some and either swam or waded some. I was one of the waders, rolling my pants up and plunging into the cold, clear pool with great enjoyment. The day was warm but not excessively. The trip down had made me want the cool water over my feet, though.
After a while we decided to trek the trail under the abri that surrounds the pool. It was fun, especially the part where we had to slide past rocks that were taller than we were. There was very little room to pass between these rocks and the back of the formation, and at one point I noticed a little shelf, looking like a step in the rock, at least to me. I remembered the prairie dog area at the kids petting zoo back home, where children (and us kid size adults) can climb in and peek up, looking out through a plastic dome at the top of the hill. I couldn't resist. I put my foot on on there and popped my head over, looking left and right as a prairie dog would when coming up out of the ground. Peals of laughter from my friends told me I had been seen, and I popped back up and looked over at them, grinning.
From under the abri we could look up at the stalactites, and when we got to where the waterfall comes down over the cliff, I looked up and across to the other side where you can see how close the trees come to the edge. We stood by the falls for a few minutes, feeling the rush of wind caused by falling water, letting the cool spray envelope us.
By the time we were done, there was really no time to walk down to the river, although I had thought to do so when we first arrived. I might not have made it down an back by the time the park closed, so instead we packed up, Mr. Eagle carried the still very heavy ice chest over the stream, and then Grace and I took over hauling it back to the top.
It's a good thing I work out regularly, is all I can say. She was in front, which I preferred anyway, and set a brisk pace, which I like. I paid with a sore shoulder a couple of days later, but nothing I couldn't stand. It gave me a great appreciation for how much work it had been packing it in, as we had only lightened it by less than half. This even when we drained the water from the melting ice, which we had to do as this was my garage sale bargain ice chest that stays in the car for carrying groceries home, and has no stopper for the drain.
The trip home was a comedy in itself, as we stopped for gas and someone among us who will remain nameless noticed and antique shop next to the station. We pulled in, after wondering where the other car had gone, and a couple of us went in. The first person in decided she was done, and some of us were loading up again, when the others decided to go in. So we all piled back out of the cars and went back, which startled but pleased the owner. Our indecisiveness was her gain, although I didn't buy. I did notice the cookie cutters I have at home, the ones my grandmother used to teach me to bake cookies with, were selling for a couple of dollars each.
When we all piled out again, some of us with heavier bags and lighter wallets, one driver asked Mr. Eagle, "I think we need to go west, which way is west?" Thinking fast, he replied, "Toward the sunset, of course!" bringing gales of laughter, and the question of whether or not he had been a boy scout at one time.
Once back at Grace's home, everyone scattered to "freshen up" again, as several of us were going to meet on the Riverwalk for dinner.
Buttering-Up Final -- Fairy Calendar
Independence Day -- Lesotho
Kanelbullens Dag -- Sweden (cinnamon roll day)
National Golf Day
National Taco Day
See the Light Day
St. Francis of Assisi's Day (patron of animals, ecology, Italy, merchants, needle workers, tapestry makers; against fire)
St. Petronius' Day
10-4 Day (C.B. 'ers) -- fourth day of the tenth month, ten-four, good buddy, etc.
World Animal Day
World Habitat Day
World Space Week
Susan Sarandon, 1946
Anne Rice, 1941
Jackie Collins, 1937
Alvin Toffler, 1928
Charlton Heston, 1924
Buster Keaton, 1895
Damon Runyon, 1884
Rutherford B. Hayes, 1822
Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine, 1807
Today in History:
One of the largest naval battles in history, the Battle of Lake Poyang, ends when the Chinese rebel forces of Zhu Yuanzhang defeat Chen Youliang, 1363
The first full English translation of the Bible, sometimes called the Matthew Bible, which contained the work of translators William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale, is printed in Switzerland, 1537
Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts drafts its first code of law, 1636
Peter Stuyvesant establishes America's first volunteer fire department, 1648
Christian Huygens patents the pocket watch, 1675
The state of Belgium is created after separation from the Netherlands, 1830
The New Orleans Tribune becomes the first black daily newspaper, 1864
The Orient Express, linking Turkey to Europe by rail, makes its first run, 1883
Norman Rockwell's Willie Gillis character debuts on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, 1941
The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty is opened for signature, 1991
The Rome General Peace Accords ends a 16 year civil war in Mozambique, 1992
NATO confirms invocation of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, 2001
SpaceShipOne wins Ansari X Prize for private spaceflight, by being the first private craft to fly into space, 2004
A Week Before Christmas Sunday
1 hour ago