May 14, 2008

Wildflowers and graffiti

Follow the shadows

The boardwalk curved its way through a marshy area filled with birdsong and green things just beginning to unfold. Bright yellow marsh marigolds bloomed along the edges of our path. I'd driven to Black Dog Hollow to meet Nearly Kin, a blogging friend who doesn't blog very often any more. We'd chosen this fairly obscure location because it was somewhere between his town and mine, and our two cars were the only ones in the parking lot. Luckily, I'd already established that he wasn't an axe murderer. We talked as we walked, catching up on the events of the winter. When we ran out of boardwalk to explore, we went down to the pond, passing under an apple tree that was holding rosy blossoms up against the sky.

I told Nearly Kin that my goal was to find the trail to Pot Mender Falls, a waterfall I'd heard about for years. I knew there was a path from the road, but I'd looked for a sign every single Sunday as I drove past on my way to the ski slopes, and even in the stark winter landscape, I couldn't find one. We consulted maps, which helped not at all, and a printout from the computer, which was completely confusing, and then simply went up the road, looking for anything that might be a path. I figured that as long as we found some kind of creek, we could just follow that uphill.

Eventually, we did find a trail, unmarked but obviously a trail, and soon we were hiking along a small stream. It didn't take us long to come to the waterfall: thin sheets of water cascading over a rock lip, falling about sixty feet onto a tumble of rocks. We were in a shady glen of big rocks that looked like they'd been scattered by some kind of gleeful child giant. But I was horrified to see graffiti — yes, graffiti — spraypainted on the cliffs under the falls.

I quite like graffiti when I see it on the sides of trains or abandoned buildings or bridges in the city. But the garish spray paint seemed horribly wrong in this misty green glen. The graffiti wasn't even artistic or clever or political: just some names and such. I immediately began wondering if graffiti removal could be a community service project for my students next semester.

From the waterfall, we followed the stream as far as we could. We were apparently too late in the season for the annual mating migration of the spotted salamander, which is apparently a big event in Black Dog Hollow, but I did see a snake, a tiny thin garter snake that slithered quickly under the rocks when it felt the vibrations from my feet. The stream bed was completely dry once we'd gone a few hundred yards, just a long trail of flat grey rocks.

By the time we'd walked the trail, I was hungry. For some reason, I hadn't thought to bring food or water. But Nearly Kin assured me that we could find a fine dining establishment in Small Town in the Middle of Nowhere. We did, thankfully, find a Chinese restaurant, where we sat in the sun, eating vegetables and rice, washed down by bottles of drinks that were mostly high fructose corn syrup.

Breathing in the mist

I'm guessing the flowers are marsh marigolds, but I'm not really sure. If anyone wants to identify them from my photo, please leave a comment. And if you look closely at the top of the waterfall photo, you can see the graffiti.


Sara said...

Looks like Marsh Marigold to me. I got some at the local Crunchy Native Plants nursery last spring and it's blooming its little heart out right now.

Love to know how to find that trail. Not sure which waterfall it is.

jo(e) said...

Sara: If you click on the photo, it will take you to my Flickr account, and you can see the name of the waterfall.

chip said...

hmm, not sure I actually promised fine dining . . .

It was a nice hike, good to see Black Dog Hollow without snow cover. Funny, I don't remember even that much water coming over the falls.

It was great seeing you again, we'll have to do another canoeing adventure this summer some time.


BerryBird said...

Reading this post makes me extremely happy, Jo(e). Last time I was there, signs were posted indicating that a paved trail would be constructed along the creek, right up to the falls. I was heartbroken--I played in that creek as a kid, pulling out crawfish, and have returned nearly every spring for the sheer joy of the place. I was afraid to go back this year, afraid to see the pavement. After you walk behind the falling water, and then climb over the lip, if you diverge from the stream, you can follow a trail up up up the hill to a hang gliding launch site atop the ridge with a gorgeous view of the hollow. I'm glad you found the trail--but I'm also glad you had to look so hard to find it.

jo(e) said...

Chip: Yes, we'll definitely have to go canoeing. Isn't it great to have the whole summer ahead of us? I love that about May.

Berrybird: They've replaced the boardwalk over by the pond -- it was all brand new -- but so far, no sign of a paved trail. Let's hope they ran out of money.

Yankee T said...

Fun friendships you have.

Nadine said...

Argh. Not the place for graffiti.

Last time I was there, I had to clamber over snow. I need to head out again soon.

Karin said...

That little boardwalk just looks so inviting.