Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Cliff Rediscovered

One of the most exciting aspects of restoring Herrontown Woods after so many years of laissez faire is the rediscovery of natural treasures long obscured by downed trees and invasive undergrowth. Autumn's leaf fall has been unveiling even more of this boulder-strewn landscape's long lost secrets.

A week ago, walking the yellow trail, I glanced up the slope of the Princeton ridge and saw what looked like a rock bluff larger than any others I'd seen thus far. The thought of returning to approach it from the top of the ridge had since slipped my mind, when today, by chance, I passed a man in town on Ewing Street who was looking with great curiosity at the historic house near the intersection with Harrison Street. I stopped and told him that Thomas Jefferson had reportedly slept there, back in 1783, when the nation's capitol was based briefly in Princeton's Nassau Hall. During that time, George Washington had commuted by horse from Rockingham, passing close by Herrontown Woods on Mount Lucas Road. I mentioned the Veblen House, and the man said he used to hike in Herrontown Woods back in the 1980s. He said that someone, maybe a squatter, had lived in the Veblen cottage for awhile, and that there was a 30 foot cliff just off the red trail.

I returned in late afternoon today to search for the cliff. Using clippers to cut through the dense tangle of multiflora rose and winged euonymus, as if playing the role of the prince in a nature version of Sleeping Beauty, I finally approached the top of the cliff. The view out over the woods, still brightened by autumn colors, was breathtaking.

No comments:

Post a Comment