smallplaces

The season--late May--was perfect for ferns, and Hickory Canyons was almost the perfect place to see them. Hickory Canyons--a Natural Area administered by the Department of Conservation, is an easy detour on the drive to Hawn State Park, where I went for few days to camp and hike.

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Better than the Grand Canyon? No, of course not. But every bit as good? You bet.

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When I think of Hawn State Park, I think of pines. Big stands of mature native short-leaf pine.

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I can't walk by a smallest creek without stopping. I think I must number among what Melville (or Melville's Ishmael--I'm not sure they're the same) calls "the crowds of water-gazers".

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After an hour or so wandering around Victoria Glades, sort of looking for the trail, but not looking very hard, I finally found one, and decided to follow it. But I didn't get very far when I noticed, off in the woods, another glade opening and the start of a small creek, fringed in cedars. Since Victoria Glades's trails hadn't done well by me, I headed off through the woods. And, after going not more than twenty or thirty yards, I discovered an utterly magical place.

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Ravines sink abruptly at LaBarque Creek. It must be due to the way the bedrock is layered, hard rock atop soft. The little streams must reach a soft layer, cut through it until it hits a hard layer, then widen the resulting ravine by meandering back and forth across the harder rock flooring the ravine.

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Sometimes the uncomplicated pleasures are best. Sometimes the big philosophical throw-down seems, well, contrived. Misplaced. Misdirected. The effort might be better spent on just looking.

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