Won't wait another 30 years
September 28, 2010 - Jim Smith
The natural history of the Old Man's Cave area in Hocking Hills State Park is amazing, if not somewhat challenging to those of us who wear bifocals and have vision issues when going down uneven rock steps covered with loose earth.
My wife and I tried Sunday afternoon to remember how long it had been since we were at Old Man's Cave. The best we could calculate is our daughter, who is now 34 years old, was a child when we last went there and romped through the area, which we didn't remember as being so void of stream water or so confining to trails.
According to the state park information:
"The scenic features of the six areas of the Hocking Hills State Park complex are carved in the Blackhand sandstone. This bedrock was deposited more than 350 million years ago as a delta in the warm shallow sea which covered Ohio at that time. Subsequent millions of years of uplift and stream erosion created the awesome beauty seen today."
"The sandstone varies in composition and hardness from softer, loosely cemented middle zone to harder top and bottom layers. The recess caves at Ash Cave, Old Man's Cave and Cantwell Cliffs are all carved in the softer middle zone. Weathering and erosion widened cracks found in the middle layer of sandstone at the Rock House to create that unusual formation.
"Although the glaciers never reached the park areas, their influence is still seen here in the form of the vegetation growing in the gorges. The glaciers changed the climate of all Ohio to a moist, cool environment. Upon their retreat, this condition persisted only in a few places such as the deep gorges of Hocking County. Therefore, the towering eastern hemlocks, the Canada yew and the yellow and black birch tell of a cool period 10,000 years ago."
Adena people are known to have inhabited the area 7,000 years ago and it was home in the 1700s to Wyandot, Delaware and Shawnee.
The area is laced with numerous hiking trails of various lengths and of degrees of challenge, most of which will get the leg muscles feeling the exercise of lumbering up and going down rocky steps and stairs, along with shuttling through tunnels and passageways.
After the wonderful time we had Sunday afternoon, I doubt if it will be another 30 years before we go back, but this time we'll stay in the lodge (which had a wonderful restaurant buffet) or one of the numerous cabins in the area and make a weekend of it.