Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mianus River Gorge

 Along the Rim Trail at the Mianus River Gorge Preserve 
On the last day of our Hudson  River valley vacation last month, Kali and I hiked the 2.5-mile Rim Trail at the Mianus River Gorge Preserve in Bedford, Westchester County, New York.  Protecting the Mianus River Gorge was the fledgling Nature Conservancy's very first project.  Today, the gorge preserve is managed by an independent non-profit organization.
 The Minus River in the narrowest part of its gorge.
The Minus River is a modest stream that rises in northeast Westchester County and flows southward into Connecticut.  Continental ice sheet meltwaters carved the dramatic gorge, whose sides are lined with old-growth Canada hemlock stands.

These millipedes, much larger and more colorful than those around my preserve,
were abundant in the preserve
Because it precipitated at least part of every day of our vacation, I expected the preserve to be very wet, and that Kali would upbraid me for bringing her into a rain forest.  But the trails for the most part were in excellent condition, and Kali told me that she enjoyed the 5-mile round-trip walk very much--except for the abundant mosquitoes which bred in the vernal pools near the southern end of the trail that hurried us on our way.

Despite the fact that the preserve protects old-growth forest, it's had its share of human use, too.  In fact, it's amazing that the hemlock groves were left untouched, given the preserve's proximity (about 35 miles) to New York City.
Stone walls divide large sections of the preserve away from the gorge edge

Small quantities of mica, quartz, and feldspar were removed from this quarry face
I don't know how many folks are familiar with the Time-Life book series on American Wilderness that was published in the 1970s.  My complete collection is one of my prized possessions.  One volume of the series is called Urban Wilds and explores natural areas in the metropolitan New York City area.  In that volume, the Mianus River gorge is profiled through a collection of images and an essay entitled "Nature Walk."

 Havemeyer Falls, about 8 feet high, on a Mianus tributary near the southern end of the preserve
 A natural rock garden with Canada mayflowers (Maianthemum canadense) on a boulder above Havemeyer Falls.  
Don't you just love to pronounce that genus?

The Mianus River ends ignominiously just below the gorge in a reservoir, backed up to provide drinking water for Greenwich, Connecticut.  At this point, hikers must retrace their steps back to the parking lot.
This is my 200th post; is that a milestone?

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