Sunday, January 24, 2010

Visting Old Man's Cave

I have two favorite "natural" places to visit in the state of Ohio: the Wilds, and the Hocking Hills region. You already know that we spent the day at the Wilds last weekend. So it made my month to spend some time at Old Man's Cave in the Hocking Hills this weekend! There are 6 natural attractions spread throughout the Hocking Hills, but Old Man's Cave is the most central among them. And what a great place to meet up with a friend for a winter hike, right? I met my blogging friend Meg (Art of Rustic) there yesterday for a lovely couple of hours of hiking. Meg and her husband have a farm that I hope to visit someday, where they have two lovely horses and lots of trails. She asked me if I would come birding at her place sometime. Heck yeah I will!

The last time either of us had been in the area was last summer, when things were pretty dry. Winter and spring, however, are great times for high water levels, meaning that you can take those obligatory waterfall shots.

The Upper Falls

The Devil's Bathtub

Water cascading over the rocks

There were also many other beautiful things to observe, even in the middle of winter. I was grateful to have a walking companion who understood my need to stop, look, and touch things every 5 feet or so, and who indulged my need to photograph all along the way, too. Everything was damp, and the place was alive with color.

L: Bark of the Eastern Hemlock tree
R: Moss, looking almost phosphorescent

Lovely, dainty fungus

Twisty downed branch

We didn't see very many birds during our hike, which was kind of surprising to me. In fact, the only birds we saw were two Rock Doves (AKA pigeons), but we did see evidence that a much larger bird had been in the area.

First I noticed lots of wood "shavings" on the ground all around the base of this hemlock tree. Then we looked up to see this:

Yup, a Pileated Woodpecker (or perhaps multiple woodpeckers) had been working on this tree. There were sets of holes like this on 3 sides of the tree!

Even though the temperatures have been moderate over the last week or so, there are still some pretty large chunks of ice clinging to the rocks in areas where the sunshine doesn't reach.

Nature's chandeliers

I've mentioned before the cooler micro-climate that exists within the parks of the Hocking Hills, and this fact hit us especially hard yesterday as we wound our way up and out of Old Man's Cave and headed toward the parking lot: off came all those layers, 'cause man it was hot up in the real world! Well, not hot, but it reached almost 50 degrees yesterday, which is much warmer than it had been down in the cave.

After our hike we drove to La Cascada, a great Mexican restaurant in Logan, and had some fantastic authentic Mexican lunch.

Some people say "cheese" when they take a picture... I say "La Cascada!"

Thanks for the companionship, Meg. I had a great time!


Kelly said...

...great photos. I want to go to Old Man's Cave in the winter to see those ice falls! Looks like you had a good time.

Jain said...

Stunning photos! Really beautiful, I've been back a couple times already to look at them. I guess I've never been to the Hocking Hills in winter - it's surprising how much green there is: moss, hemlocks, ferns, lichens. Great shots, thanks.

Heather said...

Kelly - Thanks! That's not even the half of it as far as the ice falls goes - I should have gone up there earlier when we had all of that snow. Now THAT would have been spectacular!

Jain - Thanks so much. Yes, the amount of green showing really was a welcome surprise. I wish I would have gotten more close-up shots of the flora.

KaHolly said...

Hi Heather, Thought I left a comment last night, but when I have a migraine, I do stupid things. I enjoyed coming along on your hike and browsing your photos. I especially like pileated woodpecker trees and have a special photo folder just for all the different pictures I take of them. Glad you got out and had a good time. ~karen

Carol Mattingly said...

Heather, fantastic photos. One of my favorite spots to photograph. Looks like you had a great time. Caorl

Meg said...

Ah, yes, I knew your photos would be awesome! What's with the high def on my wrinkles, though? ha ha. I had a great time too! Let's do it again soon.

Heather said...

Karen - Always glad to bring you all along on the great hikes I get to take. Wasn't that Pileated tree amazing! First time I've ever encountered such a thing myself - instead of life bird, it's a life tree-marking!

Carol - Thank you. I know you have a soft spot for the Hocking Hills.

Meg - Thanks. Sorry, I should have made the pic of us low-res - hee hee! Yes, let's contemplate what our next outing could be...

eileeninmd said...

Hello, I found your blog listed on the Natures blogs toplist. I enjoyed this post about Odd's Man Cave. It looks like a wonderful place to hike and your photos are gorgeous.

Heather said...

Eileen - Hello! Thanks for the visit and your nice comments. Old Man's Cave, and the Hocking Hills region in general, is one of my favorite places to visit in Ohio.