Rock (Yellow Birch Ravine VII)

The last seven images of my seventh post of the Yellow Birch Ravine return to color.

Unlike the glacial limestone canyons of the more northern parts of Indiana, the rocks here are made of sandstone, providing perfect traction for hiking.

We also get lots of overhangs and recess caves because of this, so I am tempted to call this place Little Utah.

Unlike the better known and much more visited places, the rocks here are (mostly) in pristine condition.

Just imagine someone would walk up to you and carve their name deep into your skin with a sharp knife.

Some of the patterns do look organic, don’t they? Whom would we wake up?

The Other Side (Yellow Birch Ravine VI)

After crossing Trestle Road, the second half of the Yellow Birch Ravine Nature preserve follows a gentle wonderfully turquoise nameless stream into three box canyons.

I followed the obvious path that leads up to the ledge. I am not sure why people go there. The water has to come from somewhere, there is no need to check.

One does get impressive views down, and one can go all the way around on top of the mesa like ravines, but the real attractions reside deep inside the canyons.

These twin falls were the highlight for me –– even waterfalls like company.

Another obsession we humans have is that we always want to get behind things.

Below is the last one, the same as in the second picture of today’s post.

Falling (Yellow Birch Ravine V)

So here they are, at the end of the second canyon, two tall waterfalls. Not majestic, but still impressive, given the general lack of mountains.

What attracts us to this spectacle of water falling? Is it the illusion of an unlimited supply, or the confirmation of gravity?

I don’t think so. The relentless power of gravity is visible without water, too, as is the continuous flow of water.

What fascinates me is the certainty, the assurance, the inevitability.

If I had to be landscape, I’d like to be waterfall.

I counted seven of them in this preserve. We haven’t seen half of them. It’s time to hurry on, and cross the road.

Ice (Yellow Birch Ravine IV – Thaw II)

Before we have a closer look at what’s in the second canyon, let’s pause for a day and enjoy the last bits of ice in this state.

Protected by overhanging cliffs, these miniature ice formations were created by dripping water that froze over night, coating twigs and branches that didn’t get away in time.

Or here are two unhappy leaves that were captured before the could peacefully decay:

The waves of flowing water over a thin layer of ice create pretty refraction patterns, too. This would look much better in color…

I would have liked to see all this when there was a foot of snow on the ground. But I might have ended up like that poor little tree below.

By now, all this icy beauty will be gone, making room for color, and growth.

Walls (Yellow Birch Ravine III)

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To get to the second box canyon, we could retrace our steps, but we can also hang on to the cliffs and find our way along them.

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We are not talking about a single cliff — the entire area is fortified with vertical walls and overhanging cliffs. Who needs a shell like this?

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There is a strange geometric esthetics in these pictures, as if rock faces and trees align — for what?

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These questions have no meaning here. 

The walls dominate everything, there seems to be neither sky nor solid ground. Still — there is water coming from above, and the trees must have roots somewhere. Life exists, despite the walls, thanks to the walls.

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The sheer existence overwhelms — no purpose beyond this is necessary.

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We have arrived. We will need to look and see what awaits us here.

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The Bridge (Yellow Birch Ravine II)

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So we continue on and reach the end of the first box canyon, facing grim looking rocks.

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It features the largest natural rock bridge in Indiana, together with a waterfall and a small recess cave.

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It is as if all possibility has been condensed into the smallest space.

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What does it take to reach this point where we can focus on just one moment and still see what’s beyond?

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The bridge is, in fact, still walkable. It just takes trust.

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On top there is enough room for icy reflections of things beyond.

But now we have to leave. There is much more.

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Dawn (Yellow Birch Ravine I)

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The Yellow Birch Ravine is a nature preserve in southern Indiana that isn’t heavily advertised. The official web site has a paragraph about it, stating it’s noted for its rugged beauty.

The preserve is divided in half by its access road, the Trestle Road, with a small parking lot that fits maybe 3 cars and comes with a small sign, telling you what not to do. It feels like meeting a stranger.

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How do I introduce this new acquaintance of mine? How do we form opinions about a new place or a person?

There are no marked trails (or a map), just paths from visitors who knew what to do. 

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We essentially follow the available paths along the creeks up into the box canyons, and accept what we find.

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So this is how it looks like — it takes a while (a decade, for me) to get used to the subdued beauty of a landscape like this.

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Is this it? From these images, it’s impossible to judge. In the background one can spot some rock formations, but is it worth probing deeper?

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Up in the first box canyon, looking back, we see that the sun is coming up. Still there is no hint of what to expect. We will have to go all the way.

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