Groundhog Day – Between batches of heavy snow I ventured out to see what decoration Mother Nature had added to the landscape. Coatings of fluff clung to bare tree branches and evergreens. Massive, brooding rocks in the gorge were covered with soft, white blankets. Dark water was visible through a few openings in the river ice. Yes, Mother Nature had outdone herself again. By the way… while I believed it was Groundhog Day, the date stamp in my image files says 02/01/2015 — the day before Groundhog Day. Close enough, say I.
A cool and ancient place is this: the deeply-undercut, rocky gorge of Chippewa Creek in Brecksville. The stream has run through this area for untold eons and has, in places, worn deep troughs through solid rock — passages for its waters. On a day like this the shadows of the rock walls offer some relief from the heat and humidity of the new summer. The curve of the creek promises new discoveries around the bend.
Since the weather was predicted to be “hot, hazy, and humid,” we decided to get out and take a photo-hike in the cooler, early-morning hours. One of my favorite beautiful places in the area is the rocky gorge of Chippewa Creek as it flows through the city of Brecksville, Ohio. She Who Must Be Obeyed had never visited the riverbed so we had a first destination. We enjoyed a bagel breakfast at the Bruegger’s Bagels place near the entrance to the metropark, and hiked down into the broad space. The last six feet or so are a bit of a scramble from an earthen riverbank to the washed stone floor, easily handled however. The steep walls of the passage bear the scars of millennia of erosion, weathering, and plant action; they are dark, often damp, and in places support abundant ferns and mosses.
Trees, atop the rock walls, form a canopy over much of the area as their upper branches join overhead. With little recent rain, the creek was low and the riverbed mostly dry — perfect for exploration. At least that’s what I thought. She found a slick spot on a smooth rock and tumbled forward, skinning Her knee, nearly damaging her new camera, and threatening to spoil the experience. She recovered, however, and seemed to enjoy the rest of our visit. We found various objects and scenes to photograph — it’s a dark place which can make picture-taking difficult — but I’d brought my tripod this day! After a while, we climbed back out of the valley and enjoyed a good, long, challenging hike on designated Cleveland Metroparks trails. The peace of the place remains with me.
The morning was dark and dreary. We had a delicious homemade waffle breakfast and headed out for a bit of miscellaneous shopping. The day began to clear with puffy clouds and blue skies drawing us out so after lunch we headed to the Brecksville Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks System. One of the more beautiful areas, the northern trail runs along a deep, rocky river valley amidst ancient tall trees. The forest floor is littered with fallen branches, fern forests, and understory growth… and plenty of opportunities for nature photography. Unfortunately, I don’t yet carry a tripod with me on these walks. Fortunately, a few of my efforts turned out well despite the darkness and hand-holding my camera. Among the last shots of the day: a shockingly orange fungus growing from the side of a dark, moss-covered, rotting tree branch. Amazing sometimes what you’ll see on a walk in the woods.