Yesterday I returned to the Hocking State Forest around Cantwell Cliffs in Hocking Hills. Temperature was above 50°. That’s not even a challenge anymore for hiking barefoot.
My challenge, though, was to work my way along the escarpment of one of the gorges there.
Let me show my topo map of the area again. I was exploring the gorge in the upper left portion of the map.
You can see where the escarpment is—it’s the darker area where all of the topographic lines run together. Sometimes there are gaps where one can climb up above the escarpment. I thought I’d look to see if I could find any. By the way, that escarpment runs, from the tip where its waterfall is, to where it finally peters out (at the top) about 2/3 of a mile.
Even getting into it is a bit tricky. I wanted to return to where I’d entered 6 days ago, in Hidden Hocking Hills. On that hike I’m managed to find a slump rock that was right next to the cliff-face. The area between it and the cliff had filled with dirt, and it was only about a 6-foot drop to get down.
However, I was not geared for scrambling. I normally wear a fanny pack, and then I have a camera bag for my camera that I wear on my belly.
I used to carry the camera in the fanny pack, too, but then I found that I never (or rarely) bothered to take out the camera for pictures. So this works better, except that I could not scoot over the edge. I needed some other way to get my gear down without damaging it.
I also did not have rope with me. So, a bit of improvisation: I found a long stick with a fork at the thick end, hooked the fanny pack with camera case to it, and then lowered that. Worked perfectly.
Since I’d been down there, a lot of melting had gone on. Here’s pretty much all that was left.
You can also see where a lot of the ice broke off and fell to the ground.
There was a small recess cave just to the right of where I took that shot. It had such an interesting formation, I just had to crawl in (wet!) to get a picture.
What happened was that there were natural faults in the rock that formed a wedge shape, and eventually a wedge-shaped rock fell out of it.
There are always hidden and extraordinary formations like this throughout Hocking Hills.
I traversed (rather slowly, I’m afraid) the whole 2/3 of a mile of the escarpment. There was a lot of up and down, and the cliff face never got less than about 20 feet. No escape.
As is typical of Hocking Hills, there were a lot of recess caves. Here’s a shot of escarpment from just inside one of them.
Then more escarpment farther along.
And near the end, a long face of rock under a waterfall and streamlet leading away from it.
Right at the end of that, there was an extraordinarily colored part of the cliff face. Obviously, this one particular chunk has a lot of iron in it.
That wasn’t all.
Folks, it’s February. In Ohio. Should I have been seeing this?
OK, this was on a north face, so it was facing south. That’s an area that would catch a lot more sun and you’d expect it to start a little early. But this early?
Finally, doing it barefoot was one of the joys of this sort of hiking. It really does give one a much better sense of balance as one clambers over myriads of fallen trees, and up and down rockfalls. But it also means that you simply have to watch where you put your feet. Because of that, I did not miss this.
It was just sitting there under foot. That is either Sarcoscypha dudleyi or Sarcoscypha austriaca (supposedly you need a microscope to tell the difference).
If I had been wearing hiking boots, I really doubt I would have seen them. Yet one more reason to hike barefoot.