Thursday, March 17, 2011

Out and About: Chittenango Falls

I have a "thing" for waterfalls and creeks.  I could look at them and listen to them for hours, and one of my favorite things to do in nice weather is to walk or sit by running water in a park or in the woods.  I've been blessed to live near many places like that in New York - Letchworth State Park in Western NY in college and my early working years, Watkins Glen and any number of similar places in the Southern Tier for many years, and now not too far from Chittenango Falls State Park in Central New York.  This morning I went to Chittenango Falls, to catch them in full spate, running bank-full with meltwater on this beautiful, warm early spring day.

During the summer you can't see much of the falls from the road, because of the trees.  Now, before the trees leaf out, you can get a really good long view of the falls as you drive up to them going south on Rt. 13 from the town of Chittenango.

The falls were roaring today, absolutely glorious in their energy and sparkling in the light.  The terrain in this part of New York tends toward big hills cut by numerous valleys, some wide and scenic, others narrow and rocky (often called glens or gorges around here).  The glens contain some of the best scenery in the Northeast, and the numerous creeks and streams pour through these defiles in an ever-changing variety of steps, stairs, cascades, pools, banks, and shelves.  Chittenango Falls is one of the larger falls in the state, where Chittenango Creek drops 167 feet from the sharp edge of the gorge not far north of Cazenovia and stair-steps down to continue its flow north to Chittenango.

In nicer weather the trail from the observation area at the top of the falls down into the gorge is a good hike - about 1/2 mile down and back, steep, with lots of stairs, but not unmanageable for the average person (definitely not handicapped accessible, though).   It leads to a bridge at the bottom, with a spectacular view of the falls.   The trail was still closed today - the snow hasn't melted from the shadowed walls of the gorge, and it was quite icy just going down the stairs from the parking lot to the railings by the top of the falls.  I'll do the trail when things dry out and warm up a bit, hopefully later in April.  It would be nice to have a series of photos of the falls in all seasons eventually.

I love the idea of the waterfall as a metaphor for Christian servanthood.  If you haven't read the allegory  "Hinds Feet on High Places" by Hannah Hurnard, you're missing a thoughtful, joyful book.  I highly recommend it.

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