Saturday, August 15, 2009

The 800 Step program

That's the number of steps that it takes to get to the top of this gorge located in the Watkins Glen State Park. You start at the doorway cut into the rock on the right side of the picture. The 800 Step Program begins there.

And the steps just keep on going past some of the most beautiful and unusual natural scenery you've ever seen.

There didn't seem to be much water in the gorge.
The further up you go the darker it gets as the ravine progresses. The foliage changes as the available light gets dimmer then brighter again. Pretty soon there are sections when the only plants you see are at the top of the ravine. Then suddenly there is more light and there are plants all over the rocky overhangs.

The path is very slick with condensation as you go up higher and higher. I was pretty slick with sweat myself. The stream and the various small falls cooled things off very nicely but the temperature was still almost ninety today and very humid.
We stopped to read a placard about an endangered species of dragon fly and were warned not to mess with them. About ninety seconds later one of the dang things decided to mess with us. It buzzed my daughter and she provided an amusing little dance for a few seconds. It landed on the ledge of the walkway and I snapped this pic. He's about two and a half inches long. He's wearing glasses.
We didn't make it all the way to the top; almost but not quite. My knees started throbbing and after another tourist warned us about the last set of stairs cut into the gorge, I decided to give these abused joints of mine a break. I am glad I did. I'm sitting on the sofa typing this and waiting for the ibuprofen to kick in.
There were plenty of folks taking pictures or just resting on the path. Luckily there were many sections were it was level or nearly so. It would have been more difficult if we were constantly climbing.
It was a easier going down (physically) but the stress on my knees was worse and the slick stone steps... well, ya had to be careful. I would hate to have to be carried out of the gorge on a stretcher.
I was kinda glad to see the parking lot at the end of the trail.
It was seven bucks to park and there was a pretty constant flow of traffic in and out of the park. People would walk the trail (about an hour) and then leave.

It took two hours to drive here, a round trip of 175 miles. On the way home we stopped at the Waterloo Retail Outlets for a bit of shopping and then a nice little country restaurant for a late lunch. Not a bad day at all.
I think we'll do Howe Caverns next. It's even closer to home - only about a hour and a half drive.


Mope said...

Wow, Sig, and just 7 bucks to park? Don't tell the governor!

sig94 said...

Really, to park all day I thought it would be $11 or $12.

Surrounding the gorge there are other sections of the park with picnic and RV facilities.

Just over the lip of the gorge is a fence where the unsuspecting (or inebriated) wanderer is protected from falling to certain death.

Hammondsport, where your cousin lives, is a small village onlyn 21 miles due west of Watkins Glen.

USA_Admiral said...

That was a wonderful trip.

I would love to see it. It is about a 20 hour trip for me though.