Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Too much snow to see the rocks

We've really had too much snow to be able to see any rock piles. I've managed to get out a couple of times to "the bowl" and just observe, rather than explore.

Yesterday I hiked up to the U-shaped structure to try and catch the sunset.

I don't have any recent pictures of it, so here's one from over a year ago. In this shot, I am facing the opening:

Here's what it looks like covered in snow, but from the opposite view, so that I'm standing behind the structure, overlooking the opening, as you would be if you were sitting in it.

What a gorgeous view from up there! You can see the winter sunset just off to the left a little bit, right at the horizon. The opening heads due west, so it does not face the winter soltice sunset, but I have a hunch that March 21st might be a good day to check this one out again!

Incidentally, if you're wondering what's on that mountain range over there in the distance, you can click here and here for a little peek.

And here's one more look at that sunset. If you click on this photo, you can see that it overlooks "the bowl" from about the center to just off to the left.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A pond overlook site

This is, without a doubt, the most complex site I've ever seen. The size and number of "Native American looking" structures is matched in size and intensity by an equally impressive number of "Colonial looking" structures. I'm putting this in quotes because I'm not trying to infer which is which or "what it is" versus "what isn't". It's just a way that I look at it to try and make some sense out of it.

There are some additional photos from this site at the Rock Piles blog.

First, a map of the site, drawn from photos and my memory, as both times I've been out it got too late to stay and draw a map. There are some question marks on the map because I did not follow every fence row or cairn row until it ended. Circles are cairns, elongated circles are stone walls, X's are very small rock piles, and oblong or circular markings with jagged lines are large rock piles or stone heaps.

Letter A on the map is 3 cairns on a bank.

Letter B is a view of this structure, that has one well stacked cairn and a rock pile or stone heap attached to it.

Letter C on the map, this is an interesting view of 2 cairns, one just above the other. This part of the site has 5 very nicely stacked cairns that are placed randomly on a bank. There is also at least one small stone pile here.

As somewhat of an aside, this site, to me, had an amazing ability to give a view of one cairn which, just above it, could be seen a second cairn and/or rock pile on the bank. Some of the photos I have demonstrate this, but none as well as the previous photo.

Letter D on the map. This is a tall, somewhat thin cairn that is on a boulder or outcrop. From this view, there is a rock pile is visible in the background. That rock pile does not connect to the piles to the east, but it does appear to be a continuation of those piles.

Letter E on the map. I was right next to the rock pile attached to a cairn and from here you can look to the east and see this strange line of rock piles or maybe this is just a very disorganized row of stones, but either way this view definitely shows the line of rock piles curve to the north.

Letter F on the map, this is another view of the rock pile attached to a cairn. The cairn is stacked over a small, upright boulder. This is the first of 3 "cairns attached to a rock pile" at this site.

Letter G on the map, this is something like a rock pile with a vertical face. It is very large looking from this angle (looking up at it), but appears much smaller when you are standing above it. It's very near to both the "enclosure" and the cairn in letter D, which is on a boulder, just below it.

This is letter H on the map and is part of the "fence row" that makes what I'll call an "enclosure", although I have yet to find the western wall or fence row of the enclosure. If it's there, it does not connect with the northern end of the fence row of cairns. This section (southeastern) has some of the most impressive cairns, with a stone row connecting them. There are also "holes" in many of the fence row cairns, to accommodate wooden fence rails. In some cases, the wooden fence rails were still present, although highly deteriorated. In at least one section, where there was a stone wall connecting cairns, there was also a wooden fence rail that extended between the cairns and was still lying on top of the stone wall, so at least one section had both a stone wall and a fence rail connecting cairns.

Letter I on the map, this is approximate in position on the map, as there are several rock piles and rocks on large boulders within the enclosure. This one caught my eye because of the stone leaning against the structure.

Letter J on the map, also approximate, just based on what I can remember. These are two very nice stone piles within the enclosure. The enclosure "fence row" cairns can be seen in the background.

Letter K on the map, I do not recall if this is the very end cairn of this row, but it is definitely near the top, if not the first one. The majority of the cairns in the east/west row here are smaller than the cairns in the other (southern most) east/west row.

Letter L on the map, this is a close up of the stone on top of the cairn.

Letter M on the map, these are the 3 largest cairns in this east/west row and there is a very low stone row connecting them.

Letter O on the map, this structure is an "L" shaped cairn or small row, and is the second of 3 cairns with a rock pile attached to it. The rock pile is to the far left in this picture. In this case, the rock pile is smaller than the cairn. The portion of the cairn farthest to the right is stacked on top of a boulder or outcrop. Just to the left of the rock pile there is a gap or space between structures that is at the corner of the "enclosure". The other unique feature is that this structure is in a line with the north/south row cairns so that it is incorporated into the "fence row".

Letter P on the map. This is another view of the same structure above, attempting to highlight the "L" shape of the structure.

Letter Q on the map. This is the third of 3 rock piles attached to a cairn. The short cairn is to the right hand side of the picture. In this case, the cairn is part of the row of short cairns that changes into a stone wall and goes all the way to the road.

Letter R on map, this is the stone wall among a row of short cairns. It goes over a low outcrop and a boulder. There are short cairns attached to each end of the stone wall.

I might add, also, that the pond this site overlooks is an impoundment. It is a Delaware River headwater. If you go just a short distance north, over the next mountain, the Delaware River basin ends and the Susquehanna River basin begins.

Monday, November 10, 2008

NYC DEP Land open for hiking

"A New York City Department of Environmental Protection permit will no longer be needed to access approximately 13,000 acres of city-owned land in the Catskills.

State and city officials completed an agreement Thursday to allow hiking, hunting, fishing and trapping without a city permit on city-owned parcels that are adjacent to state Forest Preserve land."

For the full article, visit The Daily Star by clicking on the title.

Maps showing the affected areas in parts of Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties are available by clicking here.

Friday, November 7, 2008

To Effigy or not to Effigy

I recently posted a new site on Rock Piles, a place I visited last spring, but missed the best site on the top of the mountain.

This is a structure I found in this same general vicinity. Leading up the mountain, some rocks on a boulder. Here is a side view. When I find something like this, I'm always looking for an effigy:

Here's a view from the top. For a long time, I thought this doesn't look like anything I can relate to:
But now, I'm wondering...
...if this looks like:

This image is from Jodrell Bank Observatory.

Well, it's known commonly as Orion, but some call him Long Sash.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A "Before and After" video

If anyone is wondering whether or not the issue of drilling for natural gas will affect any sacred sites in the Upper Delaware River area, this short video should answer that question.

Current legislation allows this well spacing. This is coming to Northeastern PA, the Southern Tier of NY, and into the Catskills, including the NY City watershed. The only area that I know of, right now, that will not be drilled is State PARK land, which includes state owned land in the Catskill Park. All other State land has the potential to be offered for lease once this process is complete.

From the DEC website (link here):

"The Department evaluated its oil and gas regulatory program through development of a Generic Environmental Impact Statement ("GEIS") which was finalized in 1992 and which sets parameters that are applicable statewide for SEQRA review of gas well permitting. This draft scope describes the topics related to well permit issuance for high-volume hydraulic fracturing that the Department has identified for review in a draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement ("dSGEIS"). Written and verbal comments from all interested parties will be considered in the preparation of a Final Scope, and then the dSGEIS will be released for additional public review and comment. The final SGEIS, to be prepared after consideration of comments received on the draft, will set additional parameters for SEQRA review. The Department will then issue well permits for gas well development using high-volume hydraulic fracturing in accordance with both the GEIS and the SGEIS."

If you are interested in reviewing the Draft Scope presented by the DEC, please visit the DEC website here and click on "Draft Scope". If you have any comments, please submit them by December 15, 2008 to:

Attn: Scope Comments, Bureau of Oil & Gas Regulation, NYSDEC Division of Mineral Resources, 625 Broadway - Third Floor, Albany, NY 12233-6500

or email to: dmnog@gw.dec.state.ny.us with "Scope Comments" as the Subject

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Found in Orange County, NY

I found this in a farmer's field near the black dirt region in Orange County, NY

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A little site in Steam Mill SF

This is a little site I found just off the trail in Steam Mill State Forest. I'm unsure about the origin, whether these may be Native American, colonial, or a little of both, but I thought they were worth posting.

This particular section of trail, from the start, has several colonial foundations along the way. After ascending a short distance, it seemed as though I was away from the "homestead". I found this right along the trail:

I headed uphill (in the general direction of west), off the trail, and a short distance away was this pile:

Then this pile (a little blurry):

Somewhat perpendicular, but not an "L" shape, really making more like a "T", a line of piles heading, generally, south:

So, now following this line of piles, there was this pile, with the wood in it, making it look like this line is a colonial fence row (consistent with all of the foundations nearby):

Another pile in the row of piles:

But, then there was this, a small pile in the foreground, that was not in a row with anything...

...and these, rocks on a boulder, that were "in line with the north-south row":

Here is a video about 2 minutes long, starting at the boulder with rocks on it, then heading north, to show the row and the one pile that is not in any row.

Once I continued up the trail, I was a bit disappointed to find one more foundation, just past this small site:

So, I'm a little rusty from not being out in the woods much this summer, but I'm still suspicious that there is something more to this little spot than just a colonial farmer building a fence.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pictures from along the Appalachian Trail

Click here for a link to a blog called "Traveling with Andrew and Jennifer". The third photo down is of a vertical faced cairn with the comment "We don't know what these were constructed for, but there were about 30 or more of them stretched out over a mile or so along a ridgeline."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Just one more link about Marcellus Shale is here at geology.com. I will also put a link on the right to their web page.

Gas drilling

Something very alarming is going on in upstate NY right now. Yes, it's the gas drilling issue. Companies are paying up to $2500 an acre to lease land for gas drilling. It is not just private land, but public, state land is also being leased.

Click here for the Trenton-Black River activity map by the DEC.

This is coming fast for land that is in the Marcellus Shale area, the area that I have been photographing for less than a year. Current well spacing limits are one per 40 acres. That does not include additional land that will be needed to run roads and pipelines to the wells.

Other areas in NY are currently being reviewed for variances to decreasing spacing between wells. Click here for the link to the DEC website section on the Whitesville Field which includes an additional link to the "map of the proposed Whitesville Field and potential spacing units".

So as not to continue to bore readers looking for information on Native American rock piles, I will include a link to the right of a simple website I found that has lots of links to different groups and news articles keeping track of the gas drilling issue. A link to that site can also be found here. For the next month or two, I will probably not do much blogging about rock piles, due to the amount of leaf cover and my attention being shifted to gas drilling.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Marcellus Shale

Those two small words are going to change the landscape around here forever. Click here for a link to today's article in the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin about drilling for natural gas. I wonder if anyone has considered the possible archaeological consequences?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Just off the trail

These pictures are from my last hike in June. Due to the amount of leaf cover and underbrush right now, trail hiking is much easier than bushwhacking. It's hard to see anything in the woods lately, unless it's two feet in front of you.

I managed to find one cairn right off the trail, at an altitude over 2000 feet. It was in a line of cairns that may or may not have served as fence rail holders. The line ended at a corner of a stone wall that ran perpendicular to the line of cairns.

Here are a few of the cairns:

A bit further down the hill, a small spot of rocks all around, which didn't photograph well because of all the green:

But, nearby, a boulder with an interesting arrangement and a large boulder on top that appeared to have been split and pulled forward, similar to another I saw in June in Catskill Park.

A view of the top of the boulder:

A close up of the arrangement in front of the split:

This is a close up of one of the few rocks on the top that is near the tip, or the edge, of the boulder that was split and pulled forward. You can see some of the rocks on all around in the background, which was typical at this little site.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Highland Boy Blog

I'm adding a link on the right to the recently revamped Highland Boy Blog. Stop over there and take a look! Welcome, Highland Boy!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A hike somewhere in Catskill Park

I am posting the finer points of this hike at the Rock Piles blog. Click here for the link.

Here are some additional photos of rock structures I found in the woods here.

What looked like a standing stone and then a row, connecting it to the boulder in the background:

A nice little spring that ran over a boulder. Lots of stinging nettle here, but fortunately there is also a lot of Jewelweed right next to it. At one point the stinging nettle got me in the hand and the Jewelweed helped get rid of the itch. Here's a quote from Wikipedia: "Young plants were harvested by Native Americans and used as a cooked plant in spring when other food plants were scarce." Click here for the link.

A few arrangements:

Overlooking the small cairn, from the rock pile and/or standing stone just above it:

Part of a rock pile. There were too many leaves to get a distant shot that shows the whole pile well:

This is a different pile, and the whole pile, but the greenery is blocking a good view of all the rocks:

This little spot of fill right next to a boulder is just a few feet to the left of the giant rock pile:

This one, I'm not sure about it being deliberate or accidental, as it's right next to the trail, but it's pretty, nonetheless: