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Good grief it was hot today. Still, gotta use the days off. The office was closed today, so I made for a day hike I've had to put off for weeks.
The Gandma Gatewood trail was named for the first woman to solo the AT. Being an Ohio native, Emma Rowena Gatewood loved the Hocking region, making her an obvious choice for the namesake of this picturesque trail. We meander down an active creek which cuts a deep chasm through the Earth, at times exceeding 100 feet deep. The cliffs and overhangs expose layers of sandstone while boulders the size of dump trucks litter the trail for miles. We begin in a cave, Old Man's Cave.
So, a gorge has to start somewhere. In this case the creek that runs through the length of the gorge descends a series of waterfalls, some more spectacular than others. Starting at the top, obviously enough, are the Upper Falls.
The trail through this area isn't very rugged, with stairs and bridges constructed for accessibility. The hike down is fairly easy, though I take pause exiting a tunnel cut into the rock after catching a glimpse of several bats napping on the roof inches over my head! Moving on...
The Lower Falls are the largest falls in the immediate area. As you can see so far, there isn't much flow this late in the season. In the Spring they are much more vigorous.
It's at this point that the trail settles in for 2 miles of around, up and over large Hemlock tree roots and the aforementioned boulders. Then you come upon this place.
Cedar Falls is named such because the early settlers here thought the region was home to cedar trees. Well, there isn't a cedar tree in the entire gorge, they're all hemlock. Unfortunate naming aside, this waterfall is the most active waterfall in the state forest. Here in Summer it's little more than a trickle but it comes to life in the Spring. I was lucky to get this shot I might add. The holiday brought droves of people to the falls today.
My father, my hiking companion for the day, shown in reference to the size of the falls. Not the best perspective since he's still far from them, but it hints at the rock formation's size. The cave halfway up the waterfall, to its right, is large enough to stand...not that people are permitted in that area.
One final note to this trip. As I mentioned, it was hot. Damned hot, and humid too. I guzzled water all morning, well over 2 liters, and still managed to get sick on this 6 mile round-trip. I'll be the first to confess that I pressed myself well beyond my own safe limits, and I learned an important lesson today. I need to better listen to my body and its warnings. By the time we returned to the car I was flirting dangerously with heat stroke; symptoms including impaired vision, nausea, loss of equilibrium, you all know the drill. I should say that I'm nothing more than lucky to have stayed out of the hospital. Still, the trip was at least a partial success and I'm happy with the photos I got. I'm just a little less eager to hit the trail weather-be-damned than perhaps I was leading up to today, and that has to be a good thing.