Hiking Back In Time

A sunny warm late November day provided an excellent opportunity for a hike back in time. Our hiking destinations were Blackhand Gorge and Flint Ridge. Both are nature preserves located just east of Newark, Ohio in an area rich in Native American history. Given the limited daylight hours and the fact that we wanted to visit both places, the hikes just wet our appetite for future trips when hopefully there will be more time. My interest in areas like these has been encouraged by a visit to Mound City  a few years back, an opportunity to learn about Cahokia, and books such as “1491“, and “The Mound Builders“.

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The name Blackhand originated from an indian petroglyph in the shape of a dark hand on the face of a sandstone cliff along the north side of the Licking River which runs through the gorge. Unfortunately the cliff along with the petroglyph was destroyed in 1828 during construction of the Ohio-Erie Canal. Along with a bike trail through the gorge on an abandoned railroad right of way, there were also several hiking trails wandering through oak and beech woods adjacent to long abandoned sandstone quarries.

Blackhand Gorge

The Licking River flows through the gorge.

In some areas what remains of the canal system locks can be seen.

The days of the canal were very brief. It was soon made irrelevant when a rail line was run through the gorge.

The old railroad cut makes an interesting frame for the adjacent trees.

Christmas Ferns provided some welcome green amongst the dull brown of fallen oak leaves, (Donna).

Mushrooms also provided color, (Donna).

Where there’s a rock face and moisture there’s liverwort, (Donna).

Cracked Cap polypore, (Donna).

Adjacent to the gorge are abandoned quarries that up until the early 1900’s mined sandstone for use in the manufacture of glass.

Abandoned quarry, (Donna).

Nature has gradually reclaimed the area around the now flooded quarries.

Along the gorge trees have to be very innovative to survive.

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The history of Flintridge goes back some 10,000 years, just after the last ice age when native peoples first visited the site. The Hopewell was one culture known to have quarried flint in the areaThe flint taken from this site was apparently highly prized for its multicolored beauty as well as for being of high quality making it ideal for use in arrow heads, axes, and other cutting tools as well as ornamental or ceremonial objects. Flint from this site has been found at archeological sites throughout the eastern United States. As we hiked around the preserve, quarry pits were everywhere, some flooded and some not, while over head stood some of the largest beech trees we’ve ever seen.

Flint Ridge

 

One example of the color of the flint.

Exploring the area around the pits.

More flint color variations, (Donna).

Flooded pit.

A low November sun projects the shadow of leaves on to the bark of a Beech tree.

Pits were everywhere. For thousands of years this was a busy place!

 

Smaller Beech trees hang onto their leaves for most of the winter.

Moss and and back lite beech leaves prove color in an overwise somewhat monocolor landscape

Donna hugs a very large Beech.

It was a long way to the top, (Donna).

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It’s always a treat to find magic near home, something fascinating, unexpected, perhaps even sacred. With that thought it was hard not to feel the presence of the those that lived on this land long before Europeans when we walked the trails within Flint Ridge.

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Thanks for stopping by.

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For a moment an Oak leaf miraculously balances on the railing of a foot bridge.

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XXXX

 

An Autumn Walk in Mohican State Park

It’s been several years since our last visit to Mohican State Park. The park is known for it’s heavily wooded rolling hills of white pine and hemlock which are not found in most parts of the state. With a good forecast for the day, followed by what appeared to be days of colder, wetter than normal weather, we decided to forgo our usual Saturday bike ride in favor of a scenic autumn drive to Ashland county and a hike along the Mohican River.

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As we headed to the northeast on some of Ohio’s most scenic back roads there were nice areas of color in the rolling hills near the park but closer to Columbus the land, mostly consisting of already harvested farm fields, is much flatter so the “autumnal splendor” was a little underwhelming. Nonetheless, once on the trail, we were rewarded with some nice views and, as always, some unexpected discoveries.

(You may click on images for a better view.)

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Mohican River, Mohican State Park.

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The trail that took us along the river meandered through woods of hemlock and beech.

Color along the trail.

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Fallen leaves and tree roots at water’s edge.

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Among numerous fallen and decaying trees there was plenty of fungi to fascinate.

Puffballs

Turkey tail, (Donna).

Resinous Polypore, (Donna).

A closer look, (Donna).

Extremely small Yellow Fairy Cups, (Donna).

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A low autumn sun illuminates the river.

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Winter Wrens, chickadees, nuthatches, and downy woodpeckers entertained us along the trail. Unfortunately, low light, and birds that were very active, conspired against photographs. However, a few insects did pose for the camera.

False Hemlock Looper Moth, (Donna).

Inch worm, (Donna).

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Old stump.

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A real treat was seeing liverwort on the rocks at various locations along the trail. Areas usually visited closer to home lack the rock formations on which it’s typically found. “Liverworts are of more than 9,000 species of small non-vascular spore-producing plants. Liverworts are distributed worldwide, though most commonly in the tropics. Thallose liverworts, which are branching and ribbonlike, grow commonly on moist soil or damp rocks. The thallus (body) of thallose liverworts resembles a lobed liver—hence the common name liverwort (“liver plant”).”, Ref: Encyclopedia Britannica. Liverworts represent some of the earliest land plants. “Five different types of fossilized liverwort spores were found in Argentina, dating to the Middle Ordovician Period, around 470 million years ago”. Ref:, Wikipedia.

Liverwort, Conocephalum conicum.

Another view, (Donna).

Looking closer, (Donna).

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Due to recent dry weather, Big Lyons falls was just a trickle and too small to capture in a photograph. However, the area immediately around it was beautiful.

The narrow gorge near Big Lyons Falls.

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While ferns are certainly not rare closer to home, we were surprised by the number seen in the woods of Mohican State Park. The below ID represents our best guess for one of the more common ferns seen.

Spinulose wood fern, (Donna).

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Since our trip just a few days ago fall color has continued to develop in the residential neighborhoods near our home. Particularly beautiful have been the reds of various maples planted by homeowners. In rural Ohio maples do not occur naturally in any appreciable number so colors are typically more muted. Hopefully that is not the case where you are. During this magical time of year we hope you have an opportunity to spend time in nature and that when doing so you are blessed with an autumn graced with the color of maples. Thanks for stopping by.

 

Covered bridge over the Mohican River.

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XXX

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Should you wish prints from various posts may be purchased at Purchase a Photo. If you don’t find it on the link drop us a line.

 

Paddling The Licking River

It had been several years since we paddled north on Dillon Lake which is part of Dillon State Park and headed up the Licking River. It’s a typical paddle for us where we start in a reservoir and paddle up a feeder river for as far as we can or feel like going. Since we enjoy a good paddle and are usually on the lookout for birds and other wildlife, paddling the same stretch of river twice is seldom seen as a problem. The north end of the lake and the Licking River seem very remote during the middle of the week. We had the place to ourselves.

On the day of our paddle the river was running fairly clear as it had been several days sense the last rain of any consequence. On past trips we’ve seen Bald Eagles, beaver, deer, herons, and various types of warblers and flycatchers depending on the time of year. I usually make an effort to fish a little but on this trip, as on previous trips up the Licking, the fish did not cooperate. We were fortunate to see a pair of Snowy Egrets and a juvenile Bald Eagle as we paddled. A young deer even came down to the water’s edge as we drifted by.

The river is definitely one of the most beautiful in Ohio with many bends and sandbars as it winds through a woods that contains many mature trees. On the downside are the many cans and plastic bottles that get caught up along the banks and in log jams on the outside of the bends. Such debris is always a problem in rivers that see a lot of paddling traffic because of capsizes but in this case, given that the Licking is not heavily paddled, they seem to be more the result of Ohio’s lack of a deposit law for cans and bottles.

Below are some pics from the trip:

 

Licking River Map

Licking River Paddle

Bob paddling 080714 Licking river cp1

Always on the lookout for wildlife. (Donna)

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It’s not long before we spot an immature Bald Eagle.

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The Green Herons are always entertaining  .  .  .

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. . . as they look or their next meal!

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This lovely sandbar told us we didn’t need to paddle any further.

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Looking down river.

Bob fishing at sandbar 080714 Licking river cp1

During a snack stop I tried my hand at fishing. No luck. (Donna)

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We try to paddle as close to the bank as possible because you never know what you’re going to see. In this case a very large Fishing Spider! (Donna)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail duet best 1 080714 Licking river cp1

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails on a sandbar near the river’s edge, (Donna)

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Liverwort on a rock at river’s edge. Something we’ve been looking for but not always easy to find in Ohio.

Ruby Meadowhawk 080714 Licking river cp1

A Ruby Meadowhawk posed for my wife. (Donna)

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Spotted Sandpiper at river’s edge.

Bob Pull P1090521

Due to low water it was a shallow mucky affair launching and retrieving the canoe.

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The beauty of the Licking River.

 

 

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