Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hocking Hills: Breathtaking Sites and Some Misunderstandings...

August 1, 2012: my Dad and I packed our bags and departed our house to head to Hocking Hills State Park. This was going to be my very first time going there! I was super pumped but fishing was more on my mind than anything! I was itching to go fishing and my Dad knew it. I said there was a nice trout creek in Rockbridge, Ohio called Clear Creek State Preserve. I wanted to go so badly! I knew there were going to be no trout because of the warm water but I still wanted to go in the hopes of there being carp or some bluegill and bass. We stopped a few times for groceries and food to eat on the way there but eventually we got to the fishing hole. My Dad dropped me off because we couldn't get any reception in the area to talk to my cousins who were going to join us at the preserve. My Dad said, "Meet me back in the parking lot in 30 minutes." *groan* ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! 30 minutes to fish a spot that I have never fished before?! *sigh* I went on my way with my fly rod and gear in hand. I walked for a bit and came to a split. It had some deeper water and I saw some movement of some bigger fish so I tied on a beadhead prince nymph. On my first cast that hit the water, on the drawback to cast further the fly flew out of the water with a 2" minnow on it. Great....Bad spot to fish. lol. Seriously minnows everywhere in that small pool. So I moved down stream to a very large open area where I saw a LOT of sunfish. I sent my fly flying a few times, caught a few of them despite them being so small. They were not afraid of me because they were biting at my legs! It was hilarious! I looked at my watch and it was the time that I needed to be back at the parking lot...Great. : ( I hiked back to the parking lot, met my cousins, we ate lunch, and went on our way to our sleeping place.

*sigh* Our 3rd grader cabin...
This is when things got really hairy. My Dad told me to punch in the address to Hocking Hills State Park...or so I thought. In reality, he told me, or so he says, to punch in the address to our cabin we were staying in. 45 minutes later, we find our cabin after much driving around aimlessly. Extremely frustrating let me tell you...We drive to the spot where the GPS tells us to go. We were dumbfounded. Why? Well, first off, the cabin we were staying in was in some backwoods, hick country. I am not saying that hickville is a bad thing but when there are trailers on some dusty, bumpy road in a remote part of the county, it gets a bit weird and hairy. On top of that, our cabin looked as if some third grader built it. No, I take that back: a third grader could have done a better job at building it. It was so poorly built....On top of all of this the cabin we saw on the website was NOT this cabin! That cabin was next door! Occupied by Germans nonetheless! We gave up after the gentleman who rented out the cabin didn't answer the phone after 4 separate phone calls. Very irritating.
Loading up the groceries in our awesome "log" cabin!
Vegetarian meal fit for a...vegetarian.
We are so roughing it!

We got settled in, checked out all the fancy features like the satellite TV and hot tub. Phew! We are so going to rough it these next few days! : D Yes, we were expecting something more simple and yet bigger. Yet the four of us, Dad, Dave, Rob, and I switched between sleeping in the queen bed and the couch and the floor. None of us had a very good rest those 3 nights....After everything was unpacked and put away, we locked up and headed to our first destination: Cantwell Cliffs!

Cantwell Cliffs....It was pretty much amazing. Especially after going to Virgina Kendall State Park for so many years! So much beauty and yet more danger which made it even more fun! : ) We saw the cliffs from below and above. My Dad was having a bit of trouble getting around because the cliffs were pretty steep and we were 3 strapping young men. : )
Entrance sign showing map and other such importantly boring stuff.
The stairs...

We eventually hiked around the cliffs to the top and hiked back through to the entrance where the stairs lead down again. From there we went to the other side of Cantwell Cliffs where there were more ledges and rock faces towering over us. It truly was a sight to behold. A lot of beauty. And a lot of fun!
Dave punches down the tree.
Rob does a better job at punching...

Dad and Rob really suffering....
We came back and "roughed it" some more by hopping in the hot tub and watching the Olympics. I personally was hoping to play a game of some sort like triominoes or Mille Bornes. Oh well. : ) It was still a lot of fun! There was a running joke all the while on our trip: I wanted to go fishing. I literally interjected "so, when are we going fishing?" into anything and everything I could from "We are going hiking? I hope there's fly fishing." or "Oh, look! A sign for a lake! Let's stop so we can go fishing!" Every single time my Dad laughed, shook his head and said, you guessed it, no.

We woke up the next morning, had breakfast, and hit the road by 9 AM. Our next stop: Rockhouse. Rockhouse is, as the name suggests, a house of sorts but more of a cave with quite a few entrances. It houses not people but pigeons. Lots and lots of pigeons.....
My cousins and I scrambled through the several entrances that the cave had to offer. We checked out all the nooks and crannys and I even dared to go on a ledge that was a good 25 feet or so off the ground perhaps even higher. To be honest, it was scary being that high up now that I think about it. A bit of nervousness set in when I had to climb back up from where I was since it was pretty precarious getting to that ledge I was on. I made it though, obviously. : ) It was a good feeling to accomplish that.

Amazing how the earth can shape a structure...

Oh, Dave. You're so funny. : )

Dave climbing into Rockhouse the "hard" way. He seems to be "between a rock and a hard place." ; )

Shot of Rockhouse on the inside.

Another shot of Rockhouse on the inside.

One of the entrances to Rockhouse.

View from my precarious perch. : ) 

We wandered about some more and after exhausting ourselves by climbing up every nook and cranny, we decided to take off for Conkle's Hollow. Oh, before I get to Conkle's Hollow, there was a family we kept seeing at pretty much every place we went to after Conkle's Hollow. It was pretty funny actually. We went to one park, they were there. We went to another park, they were there, too! Crazy! Anyways, back to Conkle's Hollow.
A somewhat OK view of Conkle's Hollow. In the background you can see the family who was following us. : ) The family is IN Conkle's Hollow.

A somewhat blurry picture of the "open portion" that my cousins and I explored.
Conkle's Hollow: a unique and beautiful place. A stream ran through the park and along the path that we were taking. It was a magnificent place. There was more openness to this despite there being so many trees. It was very peaceful and much more cool, to me, because of all the trees bending over the path. It was funny. As we were walking, there was a lady who was walking in the opposite direction who had an e-reader. I'm thinking, "really?" She looked like she was in her late 60s early 70s too! Anyways, there was a part in the path that the stream veered to the left quite a bit and under an outcrop. I examined it only to see crayfish and a small shelter. My family members were laughing at me because they thought I was going to try to fish the "small pond." We got back on track and meandered along the path. My cousins and I went off the trail a bit to do some exploring in an open portion of the park before Conkle's Hollow. My Dad called us down to continue on. Why because straight ahead was.....
Conkle's Hollow
Conkle's Hollow. Wow. This was awesome! There were small ledges, a bit of a waterfall, water, beautiful overhanging trees! Just gorgeous especially when the sun was shinning through! It was so awesome to see God's handiwork in all of this! To see His creation at work! Dave decided to climb on the rock ledges and look cool all the while Rob and I took off to explore more of the Hollow itself. We looked through a small overhang and took some pictures and eventually ended up sitting on a rock bathing in the sun waiting for Dad and Dave to finish up taking pictures. We gathered at the large boulder and sat down and had some cool refreshing water along with some power bars and gels.
A view looking up at Conkle's Hollow

Dave photobombing Rob's manly pose.

A view outward from Conkle's Hollow.

Dave on a ledge.
After a dozen or so pictures, we decided to pack it up and go back to the car. We sat down at a picnic table and planned on where we were going to go next. We decided to head on over to Old Man's Cave.

The Devil's Bathtub.
Old Man's Cave had a long hike to get to the actual cave. There were so many things to see along the way, though! For one, there was a series of bridges that you had to cross to get there not to mention it was almost a mile to get there from where we were in the parking lot! There were a few "falls" here and there. Sadly, the falls were not active and I never really took and good photographs of them. Something did catch my eyes and ears though. That was the Devil's Bathtub. In the spring or whenever there is rain, the Devil's Bathtub fills up with water to create falls. They say it looks really cool. I hope I can see it in action some day.

We continued onward throughout the park, across several bridges, saw several rock faces that looked really amazing from the weather and time eroding the face away. Finally, we got to the cave or overhang rather. We went through a tunnel which lead to the Sphinx Head and Old Man's Cave itself. It took forever but we were finally there! Woohoo!!!! : D
Rob standing in the entrance of the tunnel that leads to Old Man's Cave.

Old Man's Cave (or overhang rather).
This tree was growing off the cliff and upside down! Crazy!

The Sphinx's Head
Giant millipede. : )
 We hiked back to where we could access the parking lot easily. We all decided because it was quite hot, we needed ice cream. I, personally, think we should have given up the moment we saw the machinery and noises. Here are 4 construction workers, union no doubt, tearing apart concrete with a jack hammer attached to a backhoe arm. Literally 10 feet away was the ice cream shop, under an overhang so ALL the sound was amplified by 5000000x! I am not kidding either. I wish they were handing out ear plugs with the ice cream. I would have paid for them! We quickly ordered, got our ice cream, got back to the car, and ate in peace. Phew...No more loud noises!

I'm sorry. I stole this from here. At least I'm honest! : )
We finally got on our way to Cedar Falls. I am very sorry I don't have any pictures of Cedar Falls. I guess it was not memorable. lol. So, here's an image from the web on how Cedar Falls is SUPPOSED to look (I did give the link to the page on where I found it to give the author credit). On a side note, when we got there, there was no water fountain. We had to pump the water. Me, being the strong lad that I am, had to pump the water...for 10 people...It was okay though. I had a servant's heart. ; ) As we were traveling down to see the falls, which was an EXTREMELY short trip, i.e. less than 1/4 mile, and we crossed a bridge where there was about 4 feet of water in a pool. There were dozens of fish. Some of the minnows or whatever were living in there were massive! I wanted to go fishing despite them being so tiny! I was complaining to the gang that I should have brought my fly gear so I could have fly fished on my 1 wt rod. ; ) Well, we got to the falls, which were no falls at all. Seriously! A drop here and there! It was still breathtaking to see the towering cliffs on either side seeming to cave down upon us. The four of us decided to lay down on a slab of rock, which was nice and cool, to lay down. We lied there for about 15 minutes or so and decided to head back. We took the wrong path which lead us to backtrack which was extremely frustrating...

We finally got back to the hot hot car and were on our way with the air conditioning blowing in our faces and when that got too cold, we rolled down the windows to let the nice air wash through our shirts and all through our clothing to cool us down. We traveled to our last destination of the trip: Ash Cave.

Ash Cave, once again, was NOT a cave but an overhang with a lot of sand. It was very nice and cool, though. Very pretty. We walked around for a bit and my Dad and Dave decided to take a nap for a spell. They laid down and Rob and I explored. Rob went on some boulder in the middle of the cave high up on a hill while I took pictures and explored the bottom of the cave near and around the waterfall. All in all, it was a blast.
A lonely tree in the middle of Ash Cave...

The trickling waterfall of Ash Cave....
After everyone had done what they wanted to do at Ash Cave, we departed for our home. We had dinner, watched the Olympics, enjoyed the hot tub one last time and finally hit the sack. We got up on that Friday morning and had an endless supply of hotcakes at Bob Evans. It was delicious and terrible. I had the decency to stop after a few bites of the second plate but my Dad and Rob had a whole second plate. Needless to say, they were hurting. : )

We said our goodbyes, and took off. Dad and I got some fuel, which cost us an arm and a leg, and finally made it home. It was good to be home despite the trip being so nice....if only there was fishing involved....*sigh*

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