A week ago last Saturday, my son and I went hiking down in the canyon. It was quite windy and cold when we started, but by the time we’d hiked a couple of hours, we shed our jackets as the wind died and the sky cleared. My son helped me find some more branches for carving, and we found a small Hornbeam that had recently been taken out by a storm, and I cut a piece to take home for carving. This is my first experience working with Hornbeam, and peeling the bark reminded me of peeling a cucumber – it even has a similar smell.
The Hornbeam was at the bottom of the canyon, where we encountered this. You could have easily kayaked the entire 9 mile length of the creek:
Little Creek Park was more like Little River Park that week, but I’ve actually seen the creek much higher. Remember the saying “God watches over children and fools”? Well, I guess I was both as a kid, because I remember wading the creek when it looked like this, but was above my waist! I guess it wasn’t my time to go, because I know of local incidents where people have drowned in only 2 feet of fast moving water. Time has definitely changed me, because I was getting quite antsy when my 17 year old son got a little too close to the edge of the bank.
My son was at camp this week, so I returned to the same spot alone to get some more Hornbeam. Not only did I get a couple of nice branches for carving, but I got these photos:
The creek was crystal clear and beautiful. I have fished this hole many times. The fish are small, but voracious and plentiful:
I’m to the point now that I’m running out of room for the branches I have drying for next year. I have plenty of Oaks, Beech, and Ash, and added the Hornbeam sticks this weekend. My experiments with year-old Hemlock and Redbud were not very satisfactory, so I pitched them. I’m still looking for new species to try. I only collect from fallen trees, which are plentiful in the canyon, but the majority of the ones that I find are Oak or Beech. I did find a large Beech that had been struck by lightning seemingly decades ago. The standing portion was about 10’ tall, and had two large burls barely within reach. I suspected the tree was rotten, and when I started to cut around one of the burls, it felt like cutting a dry sponge. Not what I’d expect from Beech! I poked the end of my saw into the bole of the tree, and it crumbled. Drat!! Those were some nice burls.
This week’s Trace Fork tour ends with one of my favorite sites, Devil’s Tea Table. It is a very steep hike to get there, either from the top or the bottom of the canyon. When I was a kid, I was told tales of kids who had died falling from the rocks. I wonder now if those stories were merely meant to deter me from trying to scale the rocks. As if!! Enjoy: