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Watkins Glen State Park
Chi Chan

While I was enjoying the canyon around me, Mr. Rong approached me with a smile.  He suggested that I should write something about what we saw today.  I pondered for a moment and gladly accepted his invitation. I hope this short description about Watkins Glen State Park can bring back memories of those who were here before and for those who were here for the first time, this is for you !
One of the CMC 4th of July weekend camping activities was to visit the Watkins Glen State Park.  As soon as we arrived at the main entrance, immediately we were captivated by a magnificent view.   Surrounding us was a huge and steep walls - they called it a Gorge.  Rumbling water sound could be heard in the distance.  As I learned later, the canyon walls were formed by layers of sedimentary rocks which dated back 550 millions years ago when this area was still beneath a salt water sea.   The color changes along those layers denote different geologic periods, and the labels on each color suggest some of the natural history that occurred during that period.  The river flowing between the narrow valley is called Glen Creek.  Thomas, our group leader led us to a dark tunnel.  We now believe, it is a passage to paradise.  Everyone was so anxious to explore the beauty of the Gorge. As we emerged from the top of the tunnel, a gigantic waterfalls appeared in front of us. Thousand gallons of water were pouring through a hole and plunging 50 feet down to a pool. Million drops of water splashed into the air and gently hit our faces,  awaking all of us from the hot lazy summer afternoon.  Thomas told us that this first waterfall, like all others we were going to see,  has been eroding this narrow section of the Gorge and the deep pool below it for thousand of years. 

As I studied closely about the history of this ancient river valley, I learned that Watkins Glen began to form 12,000 years ago. It was the end of Ice Age when huge glaciers from Canada moved and excavated the bottom of the river and also steepened both side of the valley.  This erosion still continues at this very moment.

We continued walking on a narrow winding Gorge trail along the Creek,  occasionally we were showered by dripping springs above us.   As we looked up, a vertical cliff standing right atop of us. The Gorge here is shady, cool and has a almost rainforest like weather.  The moisture attracts various kind of plants and they grow lusciously along the cliff walls.   While the yellow and purple wildflowers blossomed on the vertical canyon walls, small red berries covered the ground beneath it.  This unique natural picturesque has been described as nature’s “Hanging Garden”.

As we proceeded to our journey, the Gorge trail led us through from one glistening waterfall to another.  Each waterfall has it own unique character.  The rainbow fall which could have produced a “rainbow” in the late afternoon did not disappoint us even the sun did not come out that day.   Central Cascade, the highest waterfall in the Gorge, plunged 60 feet down and created many potholes below it.  A pothole which has a shape of a heart was just right underneath the “Lover’s Lane”. What a perfect match! Sometime, the trail led us to a cliff wall behind the waterfall and allowed us to feel the magnitude of the water power. I peered through the water behind the fall and saw members of our CMC looking up at this almost Goddess like waterfall and were bewitched by such impressive beauty.

If you think that around the Gorge there are only powerful waterfalls, you certainly will be amazed by the “Lily Pond”.  After we crossed the “Mile Point Bridge”; our turn around point, Thomas pointed out a small dirt road hidden behind the bushes. Within a few yard, a small but yet elegant pond became visible in front of us.  Unlike the dynamic waterfalls, the water in the Lily Pond was still.  Occasionally, gentle wind caused a small ripple around the lily leaves.  But it was the lovely water lilies caught my attention.  There were white, yellow and pink flowers flowing on top of the water.  Some were about to blossom while a few still trying to raise their heads out of the water.   There was only one purple lily in the entire pond.  She was probably afraid of strangers and shyly hidden behind a big lily leave.  Thomas suggested that we should have our lunch break around the Lily pond and surrender ourselves to this charming lady. 

It was a short hike, but a memorable one.  Thanks to Becky, Thomas and Mrs. Lei who worked so hard to organize the camping trip for us.  The rain, the motel, the BBQ, the collapsed canopy, the umbrella above the grill, the frustration, and at the end the laugh and the friendship among each group (especially my group) remind me a good advice from an old friend: “DONOT LET ANYONE, ANYTHING TO DEFINE YOUR HAPPINESS, BUT YOU”.   

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