Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hiking at Conkle's Hollow

Conkle’s Hollow is a gorge – 200-300 feet wide and half a mile long. Its Blackhand sandstone cliffs rise almost vertically, 200 feet straight up. The wind and rain have created many recesses and small caves in the sandstone.

Legend has it that one of these recesses still contains the booty of a Shawnee Indian raid of an Ohio River paddleboat. After the Shawnee relieved the passengers of their valuables, they made their way north. A posse trailed the raiding party straight into the dead end cliffs of Conkle’s Hollow. The Shawnee cut down a giant Hemlock, and let it fall against the cliff wall. They climbed up the tree and hid the loot in a small recess. They climbed down and pushed the tree over. The plan was to return when the posse had left, fell another hemlock to use as a ladder, and take the loot at their leisure. But the small party was captured just outside the hollow. They were hanged without telling anyone where they hid the loot.

It is November second, but the weather is spectacular – mostly sunny and 73 degrees. Lisa and I, and our youngest seven, pile out of the Excursion. I strap on the baby backpack and Lisa loads Luke in. The other kids have already dashed to the beginning of the trail.

The kids are fascinated by the scenery. A small creek meanders from one side of the trail to the other, and back again. The ground is covered with many varieties of moss and ferns. But it is the scene above that captivates them. The hemlock and birch still have most of their leaves. The trees tower overhead, but still reach only half way up the gorge. Through the canopy you catch glimpses of the sandstone cliff face. The slowly swaying trees filter the light, hiding some things normally seen, highlighting others normally hidden. The low sun reaches in and illuminates many of the small recesses, perhaps even the one containing the hidden treasure.

The trail is almost all handicap accessible, so we let the younger kids attempt to keep pace with the older ones. Lisa and I follow slowly. The worst that can happen on this part of the trail is that they drop off into the bracken and fallen leaves. We stroll along the path until we catch up to the kids. The trail ends at another bend in the creek.

Luke has been a patient passenger. But seeing his brothers and sister again reminds him that he would rather be walking. He wants out and loudly lets me know. I scrunch down. Lisa pulls him free and plops him on the ground. The boys throw rocks into the creek for a while, then we turn and retrace our steps – there is only one way in and out.

Before we load up, we send all able bodied peemen to the restroom. Daniel and Luke need fresh diapers. Lisa takes Luke. I take Daniel and attempt to better my world record in the stand up diaper change. I set the current record of 14 seconds in North Carolina last summer. The keys to a quick change are preparation, short pants, and a willing changee. First, you need to unfold the fresh diaper and open the fastening tabs. The changee should hold his shirt up out of the way. Quickly pull the changee’s shorts down to his feet. Unfasten the tabs on the wet diaper, pull it off, roll it up and fasten the tabs to make a little wet-diaper ball. Then place the fresh diaper on, pull it up snugly and fasten the tabs. Pull the shorts up and yell, “Time!” Valuable seconds can be lost if the changee is ticklish or bashful.

I complete my prechange preparations. Daniel is an old hand at stand up diaper changes, and I believe we have a good chance at lowering the record. Sadly, the tabs on the fresh diaper stick to each other when I pick it up. We finish in 19 seconds – respectable, but not near record time. The older kids return from the latrine. Five-year-old Sam excitedly exclaims, “It looks like you are going in a regular toilet, but you are really going in a big hole in the ground!” Thankfully no one fell in. We get back in the truck, it is nearly dark. I ask the kids if hiking isn’t better than playing video games. All but Ben quickly agree. He is too much a teenager to admit to having fun with his family, but I know he did.

1 comment:

  1. Which spots/trails are the "must see" spots? My family and I are thinking about planning a trip for this weekend.