When Jessica was debating whether or not to stay a little longer, we made a list of all the things we hadn't gotten around to yet - things we had to cook together (more pesto!), movies we hadn't watched, the Amish farm we hadn't yet visited, the ice cream we had yet to eat...(yes, we included everything). One of the places we wanted to go was Conkles Hollow, in the Hocking Hills. We've been to the Hills before, but only to Old Man's Cave, and there are many destinations, each more spectacular than the last, with incredible rock outcroppings and lush valley floors. Friday we finally made it to the Hollow.
There were two options - the rim walk and the valley floor. I thought we might enjoy the hike more if I wasn't nervous, so we chose the valley. They are doing a lot of habitat restoration/preservation here, where there has been a lot of off-trail usage, so we stayed on the concrete path for most of the gorge. It made Eliza a little bristly, not being able to go where she wanted, climbing the downed trees and boulders, but when I explained how much damage the load of visitors can do to the park if they all walk where they want (disturbing the creek, creating little mud slides along the inclines, marking up the rocks and caves), she said, "oh ok. If that's reason, I can stay on the path" and for the most part she did.
We thought this fungus looked like a toasted marshmallow
Indian Cucumber Root (Medeola Virginiana)
The short trail (less than a mile) leads back to the end of the gorge, and ends at a small pool and waterfall. It was so peaceful and lovely and loud (the water was flowing, and the girls' calls echoed down the rock walls).
They waded a bit and found fish, crawdads, and salamanders. We could have spent more time there, but it was a fairly populated hike, which we aren't so used to - it must be summer, we aren't alone anymore!
Jessica points out interesting rock formations
We found this little tiger swallowtail caterpillar on our way out of the gorge. It was so beautiful and cool in there, and so....well, it was HOT out in the rest of Ohio, so we will most likely find ourselves heading back there in the heat of the summer.