After yesterday's tour of Letchworth State Park, the rain held off until after dark. Then, a major thunderstorm passed over the park.
We had lots of lightning and rain, but the wind wasn't too bad in the campground. After the storm passed, we had a wonderful, quiet night of sleep.
This morning, I wrote the Journal entry with lots of photos of our tour of the park, and then decided I wanted to go for a hike. Linda wasn't really up for it, so I selected a hike where she could drop me off and I could walk back to the campground.
In the meantime, she would do laundry at the campground, make phone calls, and do some reading.
At about 1:30 Linda dropped me off at the Highbanks Trail (Trail 20) starting point which is at the Mt. Morris entrance at the northernmost end of the park.
The Highbanks Trail runs for 4.5 miles along the edge of the gorge and then ends at a road leading to some cabins. But at that road, Trail 19 picks up. So, I could take Trail 19 through the woods to where it comes out on the Park Road. Then after walking a short distance on the road and across the bridge over the Silver Lake Outflow creek, I could pick up Trail 18 which runs from the road to the campground before it continues on. In all, I was guessing I'd be walking about 6 miles.
The trail started out uphill through the woods and was quite evident. However, sometimes there would be a big swath of grass that looked like it could be a trail or maybe just an access area for lawnmowers. Fortunately, yellow blazes (and sometimes arrows) were on the trees confirming which way to go.
Once at the Mt. Morris Dam Overlook, .....
it was just a matter of following the chain link fence along the edge.
There is a free dam tour each day at 2:00 p.m., and I thought I would take it if I arrived by then. However, I didn't realize that the dam tour is from the other side of the river. Oh well.
This dam was built in the 1940s and its purpose is simply flood control. As you can see, it's not having to hold back too much water right now even considering last night's heavy rains.
But the Genesee River is quite muddy compared to the clear, shallow waters we saw yesterday.
In some places the "trail" along the fence line is paved, .....
and more often it's just dirt or grass. In either case, there are only a few spots where you can see through the vegetation and down into the gorge.
After passing along the back of the Highbanks Recreation Area where there is a large swimming pool, picnic facilities, pavilions, and more, I reached the start of "the horseshoe".
It's here where the river makes a big horseshoe turn.
There are a couple of viewpoints along this side of the horseshoe, ....
but not many.
Soon, I was back along the Park Road and then there was a short section through the woods to the Hogsback Overlook.
And that was pretty much it for the scenic views. After the Hogsback Overlook, the trail descended into the woods making it seem like more of a hike than just a walk. This young buck greeted me.
It took awhile, but I finally found a chipmunk that would pose for me rather than just squeak at me.
Now, this part of the trail was very peaceful and quiet, but it's also not used very much since there are no magnificent views. The trail is clear, but overgrown .....
and I spent most of my time trying to identify and avoid poison ivy. I'm highly allergic, and there was no way to keep the vegetation off my bare legs and ankles.
You know the saying "leaves of three, let it be"? Well, there are lots of plants with "leaves of three", so I was looking very closely at all of them. Poison ivy can be a vine, a shrub, or individual plants. I took photos of what I knew for sure was poison ivy.
Individual plant version.
In the photo above, there are two distinguishing characteristics. The leaf at the end is usually the largest and has a stem, while the two other leaves don't have stems.
Another vine version.
I didn't enjoy that part of the hike as much because I was obsessed with the poison ivy on the overgrown trail.
When I finally completed Trail 20 and came to the road where I was supposed to pick up Trail 19, there was no discernible trail. I could see some yellow slashes on the trees deeper in the forest, but I wasn't about to bushwhack through given all those nasty three-leaved plants in the area.
So, I walked out to the Park Road and walked along it until I came to Trail 19A.
It looked like a more reasonable trail, so I took it although I knew staying along the road was the most sure bet. The trail led down into the Silver Lake Outlet valley where there was an old Civilian Conservation Corps camp. The remaining fireplace looked surprised to see me. :)
I knew a right would take me to the road, but I took a left and went down a narrow trail toward the creek. The trail ended there, but it was a lovely little spot where I took a couple of photos.
I returned back to the CCC camp and took the path up past a gate to the Park Road. It was just a short walk on the road from there to Trail 18 which would take me to the campground.
I was promptly greeted by more poison ivy.
There was a lot of it on that trail, but at least the trail was wide enough and used enough that I only had to worry if I stepped off trail.
I was glad to make it to the campground and happy to walk the road back to our campsite. I told Linda "I need a Dawn bath". She read somewhere that scrubbing the skin with soapy Dawn dishwashing liquid was a good way get rid of the urushiol - the potent, oily resin from poison ivy. So, that is now our routine whenever we might have come in contact with poison ivy. We either go directly to the shower, or we scrub down with a Dawn-soaked cloth.
The Highbanks Trail is okay, but the north end of the park certainly doesn't have the scenery of the south end of the park. I won't ever do it again in shorts, but I enjoyed the exercise.
Linda had finished laundry, talked to her sister and a girlfriend, and she was reading her Kindle. Yesterday's high was around 90, while today topped out in the high 70s with very little humidity. She was getting cold in the shade, so I started a fire.
We both enjoyed the warmth as we reclined in our loungers and read until we got hungry. Then I cooked a couple of bratwursts on the fire, and we had a small, simple dinner.
I had read the the Middle Falls here at the park are lit up at night, and we saw the lights yesterday afternoon when we were there. I wanted to go check it out tonight or tomorrow night, and we decided to go tonight.
We arrived at the Glen Iris Inn above the Middle Falls a little before 9:00 p.m. Although the lights were on, it wasn't yet dark enough for the full effect as we watched from the overlook at the Inn.
We waited until it got darker and then walked down the steps to the walkway where we were yesterday. It was getting prettier, .....
and I shot some video.
Back up at the Inn, ....
I took one last photo which turned out to be the best one.
On the way home, we stopped at Inspiration Point to see what Middle Falls would look like from there. I couldn't get the shot I wanted, but this zoomed photo will do just fine.
Continuing back to the campground, we saw the orange moon coming up over the gorge, so we pulled into an overlook.
It was beautiful and the photos certainly don't do it justice.
It was a gorgeous day and a memorable evening, and we're very glad we came to Letchworth State Park. :)