Monday, January 16, 2012

Local and natural history at the Gorge Metro Park

Last weekend, we went on a guided hike at the Gorge Metro Park in Cuyahoga Falls, OH.  We've been to this park before, but this time we were on a different trail.  Our friend P. came along with us again, but little Bug stayed home with Daddy due to both the cold and the slight danger factor of this particular trail.  The description of the hike was as follows:
"FOOTSTEPS TO THE PAST.  Years ago, a favorite spot for locals was Fern Cave near the High Bridge Glens.  But what is a glen and where is Fern Cave?  Join Naturalist Dave Brumfield to find out and learn about Gorge Metro Park's geology and history."
My only criticism is that I went on the hike hoping that we were going to get to see Fern Cave - which I had never heard of - and it was barely mentioned and was nowhere near the area where we were hiking, so we did not get to see it.  That being said, it was still an excellent hike.  Although we had bundled up pretty well, I was still worried that the kids were going to get cold, but they were fine and so was I.  The weather was actually quite pleasant - chilly but sunny, and it was good for all of us to get out and get some much-needed fresh air.  This trail is one of the park system's most scenic ones, with lots of large, exposed rock faces and lovely views of the Cuyahoga River and the huge waterfall at the dam.  The Naturalist stopped us occasionally to talk about the history of specific places along the trail: both natural history such as the gorge being carved by glaciers and the river, and local history such as the dance hall and amusement park that used to be located here.  He also passed around some old pictures showing how the area used to look, but I was busy with the boys and didn't get to see many of them.

The boys were incessantly trying to climb "just a little bit" and wanting to have their picture taken on the rocks.

This place is called "Mary Campbell Cave" in honor of a young girl who was kidnapped by Indians (story below).  It's not really a cave though, more of a big open area under a huge outcropping of rock.

In memory of Mary Campbell who in 1759 at the age of twelve years was kidnapped from her home in Western Pennsylvania by Delaware Indians.  In the same year these Indians were forced to migrate to this section where they erected their village at the big falls of the Cuyahoga.  As a result Mary Campbell was the first white child on the Western Reserve and this tablet marks the cave where she and the Indian women temporarily lived.  Later, in 1764, she was returned to her home.

Monkeyman on a rock by some big rocks.

Little Boy and Big Rocks.  At this point, Monkeyman got a little bored and went off to sit by himself for a moment.  A fellow hiker, who had brought his young daughter, nodded towards him with a smile and asked me if it was just an age thing, or a boy thing, or was he just always this independent?  Yes, he IS always this independent!

Ahead you can see the waterfall spilling over the dam.  I liked being immersed in the powerful sound of all of that rushing water.

Little waterfall trickling down the rocks

Super great pic of Monkeyman looking like a Mountain Man.

Checkin' out the falls

*thundering whoosh*

Little Kid and Big Kid by the Big Water.  I love how these two are such good pals, despite their 5-year age difference.  They both truly enjoy hanging out together.  (A bit of evidence that homeschooling can promote more natural friendships than just sticking kids of the exact same age together.)

The naturalist pointed out signs of the presence of beavers.  Here's a log with the bark chewed off, and visible teethmarks on the end of it.

This tree was not felled by an axe - can you guess who did it?  (Yep, beavers!)

The hike ended up by this small pond which is used for ice skating once it freezes over.  The center was frozen but it was still open water along the shoreline.  The boys had fun throwing ice chunks onto the frozen surface and watching them skitter across it.

Overall it was a great excursion, and although I might have found the history lectures a tad more interesting than the boys did, they still thought it was a pretty neat place.  Afterward I chatted with the Naturalist for a few minutes and he was very friendly and knowledgeable.  When I told him we were homeschoolers, he said, "Oh!  In that case - here you go!" and gave the boys some Wild Ohio for Kids nature magazines.  He said that he and his wife had homeschooled two of their four kids so he was very supportive, which was nice.  When I asked if they ever did any events about fossil hunting, or fossils which had been found in the area (which I think Monkeyman would dig, haha) he said no, he didn't know of any but that he would suggest it.

Once again - Thank You Metro Parks!

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