Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Group Outing to Natural Bridge near Dolph

We got word during the past week that our friend, Colt, was going to be in again for the weekend and wished to go see the Natural Bridge near Dolph. After friends and family joined the trek Sunday afternoon, we ended up with a group of 12.

We took the group, first, to the top of the arch and explained to them about the Natural Bridge's use in the past as an actual bridge. Those who owned the land long ago would each year pack dirt into the cracks and crevices across the top of the stone arch so that they could drive a wagon from field to field...a task that could take hours or days by going around the deep bluff-lined hollow of Calico Creek.

We then went down to see the arch in all its glory. The kids crawled through the tunnel in base of the bridge and happily jumped back and forth along the creek. Having experienced the beauty of the structure, we hiked downstream to the feature I had noticed the last time we visited the site...a cave. I did not get to climb the hill to investigate the place before and when we all did this time, we found a small domed-room with a round opening in its outside wall. It was amazingly similar to a Fred Flintstone-style house!


We oohed and ahhed about the cave for a few minutes before hiking on "downstream" (in quotes because Calico Creek flows underground just below the cave)to investigate more of the hollow we had not yet seen.

Calico Creek Hollow (I'll call it that for lack of knowing any other name) is a stunning place. The clear, spring-fed creek runs through a channel cut deep into limestone rock with rock-bluffs rising high on both sides. Below where the creek flows under a cedar tree to disappear underground, the bottom upens up into a flat on the south side of the creek.

Just below this flat, the landowner's fence stretches across the dry creek-bed. That's as far as we got. We will return to investigate farther downstream to Goat Hollow and Cantrell Den when we get permission from the owner of the Goat Hollow portion of the creek.

This was our first outing of any size. It wasn't organized because of how it came together. We're hoping, however, to have more organized periodic outings in the future. We're hoping some of you would like to join us.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Colt's Labrynth (Mill Creek) 10/7/07

Over a year ago, Ryan told us he had a friend who owned some land with a shelter cave that had some sort of painting. Ever since, we've looked forward to getting to see the site and take a look. Sunday afternoon, we got to go.

After an interesting ride to the site, we climbed up the side of a steep ridge to the awesome fractured bluff-line near its top. Navigating our way carefully (and breathlessly (as you'll notice if you watch the videos at the YouTube Hunkahillbilly page [sidebar]) over boulders and along the base of the bluff, we made it to the shallow shelter that also hides a very small entrance to an extensive cave (later excursion, we hope).

My first impression of the bluff-painting that is applied on the underside of the overhanging rock was that it did not look very old. Upon further inspection, however, it became clear that there was much of the painting that is faded. The visible portions are clearly not any form of modern pigment but looks to be a natural paint of some sort. It's quite interesting and deserves a closer look. As far Colt the landowner knows, it has never been studied.

After admiring the amazing painted sandstone bluff towering above the shelter, we paused to take a photo of our little troop. We then proceeded to enter a fissure in the bluff formed by a gigantic triangular portion that had separated from the bluff sometime in the distant past. The small gorge formed by the fissure is about thirty feet long and is walled on each side by a shear 30ft-40ft face. Rather than retracing our way back out, we crawled through a narrow fissure that led to the front of the broken off triangle of rock. It was a tough climb and a tight squeeze!

After admiring ourselves for having been able to get out through the narrow fissure (really we just needed to catch our breath!), we explored other passages similar as we made our way to the top of the bluff to see the amazing view of Mill Creek and the surrounding hills.

WE are so thankful for landowners like Colt, who are eager to share the unique and wonderful places they possess! Thanks, Colt, for the great adventure.