Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Roadside Ramble

Nobody loves a good walk in the woods more than I do, but sometimes a walk along the road holds just as much delight.  That's especially true when forested mountains climb steeply above one side of the road and a majestic Hudson River flows by the other,  as happens along my favorite stretch of Spier Falls Road at Moreau.  It was here I walked on Monday, when the weather was still balmy enough that tiny rills carried melting snow down the mountainsides and the sun felt warm on my back, even in late afternoon.

As I strode along the curving road and up and down the hills, I could hear the rushing of water every few feet, and I'd stop to enjoy the sparkle and splash of wee little rivulets plunging from rock to rock.

There was music in the roadside boulders, too, as spring-fed icicles added their drip, drip, drip to standing pools in the rocks.

As I approached the huge dam that interrupts the flow of the Hudson here, I moved off the road and into the woods, encountering areas where whole mountainsides had been blasted away to provide the rocks for building this dam back in the earliest years of the 20th Century.

Here, the cliffs rise to impressive heights, the sheer walls dripping with water from springs within the rocks, as well as from melting snow.

As winter grows colder, the water from these springs will freeze to form tier upon tier of cascading blue ice, creating a scene of fantastic crystalline beauty, as this older photo shows.

No ice on this day, with above-freezing temperatures all day long, as well as for several days before.  But the springs were dripping down the rock walls, and in this case, watering a carpet of bright green moss on the floor of a shallow cave.

The damp rock walls were alive with mosses and lichens and, here and there, rosettes of the pretty pink leaves of Early Saxifrage.

On a drier wall, Rock Tripe Lichen was ornamented with tiny blue icicles.

Bright green fronds of Rock Polypody sprouted from cracks in the boulders, adding to the charm of this winter garden.

Almost directly across the road from the Spier Falls Dam, a little brook comes bounding down the mountain side.  Often dry at this time of year, this day it was splashing and dancing as if it were spring, thanks to recent rains and days of melting snow.

I climbed up the course of this brook, leapt across its rushing water at a narrow point, and continued on, only now I walked through the woods higher up on the mountainside, instead of along the road.

After pushing along through thick shrubs and tangled vines, I drew to a halt when I came upon these old stone structures high up in the woods directly across from the dam.

What on earth could these be, I wondered.  I occasionally come across old building foundations and well holes in these woods, but these structures were shaped like none I had seen before.

Huge iron bolts protruded from the stones, which should provide some kind of hint as to what these structures were built for.  I am guessing that perhaps these were part of some kind of conveyer system that carried rocks hewn from the mountainside out over the river, where they could then be put in place as the dam was built.  But that's just a guess.  I will have to do some research and see if I find an answer.


June said...

Lovely, as always. And to have the quiet to hear the drip, drip, drip . . . and the time to ramble at will! Lucky you!
I'm interested to know what that structure is/was. I think you're on the right track in thinking it had something to do with the building of the dam.

The Furry Gnome said...

Another fascinating walk, with great pictures. I'm looking forward to getting out further afield once this weekend's visitors have headed home!

catharus said...