I actually cheated a little bit at the end of Blackhand Gorge — Part 1 when I showed you the bike path through Deep Cut (for, not as I originally wrote, the electric Interurban, but the Central Ohio Railroad, and then later the B. & O.). That wasn’t part of my barefoot hike.
When I took that picture I was on inline skates.
You see, what I’d done was stash a canoe about 4½ miles upriver from the gorge, at the nearest road access (Brownsville Road). This also happens to be the other end of the bike path that runs through the Nature Preserve. I stashed the canoe then drove to the downriver end of the bike path in Toboso, put on my skates, and then skated back upriver.
It makes quite an interesting two-way traversal of Blackhand Gorge.
It was also an interesting way to see the river (more-or-less) how the Native Americans would. As I mentioned last time, this was a pretty special area for them, and it would have seen magical for the river to appear to be heading for distant hills that looked impenetrable, only to suddenly dart through the gorge.
Here’s how that looks from Brownsville Road.
The Licking River is just behind that row of trees to the right. Off in the distance there’s nothing but highlands.
As you head downriver from there, it just looks pretty flat with a bit of river bank, but no real hint of the hills. This is where the glacial lake sat.
(By the way, that’s not garbage in the front of the canoe—my skates are in there in case I managed to overturn the canoe. Not likely—water lever was pretty low, as it usually is this time of year.)
Canoeing down the Licking here really gets you away from things. There’s a bit of traffic noise from Route 16 a bit to the north, but it is a bit of an oasis. It’s an oasis for wildlife, too. There were great blue herons, and kingfishers. I’m pretty sure I saw an osprey. And then there was this.
Here’s a closer view.
And one more shot.
My bird identification skills are weak. I’m guessing that’s either a goshawk or a peregrine falcon.
When I was in Costa Rica one of the “show birds” was a little green heron. Well, we have those here in Ohio, too.
Being barefooted really helped here. To take this picture I got out of my canoe . . . and sunk about a foot into sticky clay-like mud.
Continuing downstream the hills started building on either side as I approached the gorge.
You can also see the edge of the river becoming rocky.
Of course, I have to show that I was barefooted.
Though really, I’m on a boat. Even shoddies will do that sometimes.
Just a bit before Blackhand Rock the river passes under the railroad bridge. Last time I showed it from above; here it is from below.
That bridge runs across about half-way up the blackhand sandstone cliffs there. There’s a ledge at that height on either side.
Finally, I approached Blackhand Rock and the narrowest spot through the gorge. The stonework below was built for the towpath for the Ohio & Erie Canal. The surface above is the remains of what was blasted off to make way for the towpath. That is where the Black Hand used to be.
According to Mark Welsh, the natives called this “Council Rock”. There’s a path on the back side (just off the trail where the Interurban went) that can be used to get up there. Mark and I were up there not long before he died.
It was just a short paddle back to near the parking lot from there. I left the canoe at the river and was able to drive my car right down onto the river gravel and pop the canoe back on.