Our desination last Sunday was a roadside cliff in northeastern Pennsylvania that my friend L. remembered from one trip some seven years before. To hear her describe it, it was a veritable hanging garden of moss and ferns and wildflowers, and she had jotted enthusiastic notes to that effect in the margins of her atlas. We looked for over an hour, and never re-found it.
Oh sure, we found the road she’d marked in the atlas, but it wasn’t the one she remembered. The cliff was neither as steep nor as wet nor as rich; she didn’t even recognize it. The road she’d been on then had been paved, she was sure of it, but this was potholed gravel.
We consoled ourselves with a visit to the nearby Rickett’s Glen State Park. Black-throated green and black-and-white warblers called from the tops of old-growth hemlocks, but my attempts to pish them down within camera range brought me nothing but chickadees and a redstart.
On our way down the glen, we saw waterfalls and blossoming hobblebush; on the way back up, we saw crowds of painted trillium. They were right beside the trail, and it was hard to see how we’d missed them on the way down.
Driving back on PA Route 118 toward Hughesville, we pulled off the road to examine an incredibly verdant north-facing cliff, thick with moss and ferns (see photo at the beginning of the post). It was obviously very unstable, though, because a couple tons of it had recently calved, and blocked most of the berm. Directly across the highway, the rock cut was dry and grassy, and someone had erected a roadside memorial: white cross with a blue bow at its center, ringed with artifical roses and rocks the same color as the cliff. Joe Young, 34, 2003. Banks of greater celandine were in flower a few feet away, an old-world poppy more striking for its foliage than for its yellow, cross-shaped blooms.