Ausable Chasm – Upstate New York Vacation 2014 – Part 2 of 4

Ausable Chasm, New York (August 12, 2014)

Ausable Chasm, New York (August 12, 2014)

I’ve wanted to check out Ausable Chasm for quite a long time (here’s their facebook page; tons of cool pictures!). Of all the regional theme parks we visited as kids, The North Pole, The Land of Makebelieve (wow that video brought back some memories!), Gaslight Village, Frontier Town, et cetera, we never made it to Ausable Chasm. On the past couple New York trips my wife and I made, I made an effort to go there, but it was never in the cards. This time, we finally made it and it was fantastic.

The Chasm is located off of New York’s Northway, or I-87, between Exits 34 and 35. They’re 12 miles south of Plattsburgh, NY, and one mile north of Keeseville, on Route 9.

What is Ausable Chasm?

Basically, it’s a gash in the Earth with a river running through it.

Okay, to put it more eloquently, here are the words of Seneca Ray Stoddard:

“AU SABLE CHASM tells the story of the Ages.  Here in enduring rock are the records of that dim past when in the eternity of “the Beginning” the unstable earth reeled and staggered with the pulsations of its heart of fire.

“Here may be found the ripple marks of waves that washed the ancient beach, and the pittings of raindrops that fell when the rock was in its plastic state.  Here are signs of the hardening shell and the shrinking where the thin crust wrinkled and bubbled up to mountain heights, then breaking like crackle-glass, left deep gorges and ragged peaks.

“Then the mighty leveling glaciers followed to grind and polish and fill, and the floods came down out of the mountains of the South loaded with sharp flint and rasping quartz to clear the gorges and gnaw their way deep into the new rock, until, in the fullness of time, stood revealed the “Walled Banks of the Au Sable.”  The story is all there, plain to those who can read its writings.

“To the scientist it is interesting as illustrating rock fracture and erosion; to lovers of the strange and beautiful, a place of wonder.

“-Seneca Ray Stoddard, 1907

We opted for the Walking Tour, it’s about five miles of hiking (okay, walking), but didn’t do the river float. I had hiking boots on, and those apparently aren’t allowed in the rubber rafts (you don’t really need hiking boots, here, sneakers are fine). They did have some more appropriate gear in their gift shop, buuut we didn’t want to spend the money and we’ve already rafted down a couple Colorado rivers, so we know the experience…but we watched the rafters “put in,” when we got to that part of the hike, and it did look like fun!

Little Unknown Critters, Ausable Chasm, NY (Aug 12, 2014)

Little Unknown Critters, Ausable Chasm, NY (Aug 12, 2014)

One of the first things we saw, at the beginning of the trail, was quite curious: a fossil that showed tiny footprints and tail impressions that the sign said were still unidentified.

That captured my imagination!

I mean, here are these tiny creatures way back when, just making their way along some muddy terrain, minding their own beeswax, most likely never giving a thought to their passage (really, I can’t assume the little critters weren’t thinking about their futures, now, can I?), especially that their tracks in the mud would survive them into some incomprehensibly distant future! We were here! those tracks scream, and it was so cool to me. Tiny critters we may never know had passed by this little strip of mud in a distant, foggy past….

Another interesting thing I noticed (but don’t have multiple pictures of) were all the “pointy sticks” angled down on us! As we walked through the chasm, I couldn’t shake the whole “Indiana Jones” feel to everything, and noticing these “pointy sticks,” which were angled trees that lost their footing (and their branches stripped) as the soil eroded away, just fueled that fire! The thundering river, the ancient rocks walls, the brooding shadows, the pointy sticks

Who was watching us from above?

What danger were we walking into?

Would we make it out alive?

Who Made These? What Ancient, Hallowed Grounds Had We Intruded Upon?

Who Made These? What Ancient, Hallowed Grounds Had We Intruded Upon?

Then we passed mysterious cairns….

…happened upon the hidden Nazi substation, secretly observing them as equipment was lowered into the gorge and people were hurriedly evacuating from some hidden horror—my God, what had we gotten ourselves into?

Oh, sorry.

I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying we got out alive.

Anywaaay…we continued to hike around the five or so miles of trails, including the Inner Sanctum trial, which is the trail mainly depicted in the slideshow below. It ran down and along the river. The hanging bridge was part of another trail we didn’t partake (at another fee we didn’t pay), but we stood really, really close to it and took pictures. We also hiked through a dry chasm., and guess what? It was dry. No river ran through it. It was a cool hike, over and under deadfall and rocks. My favorite kind of hiking. We managed to avoid detection by the roving bands of our unseen threat from above—

Dang it. Gotta stay focused, sorry.

Upon return to the gift shop area (where you can refill your water bottles by simply asking those behind the food counter to do so…or buy a gallon of maple syrup for over $80 [hint: don’t do this]…), we found a mini-museum, on the left, right before the restrooms. It talked (“Really?” you ask, “it ‘talked’?” No, it “displayed…”) about the history of the chasm, and how the recent floods had damaged the chasm; how it was rebuilt. Surprisingly, one the most interesting exhibits there to me was the evolution of the Ausable Chasm promotional flyers.

What about all the rocks and flood destruction and history of Seneca Ray Stoddard on display at the museum?

No. My “take away” from the whole museum thing were promotional flyers from the seventies.

You see, I’ve had a certain image of the flyer in my head all these years, from what I’d remembered as a kid, and I’d found it there…it was the 1971 version of the flyer. That was cool to me….

Okay, whatever.

Well, there’s lots more to do there, so, we might have to make another trip to do the Zip line, foil our stealthy antagonists, and find that lost Ark thingy….

Next week, the St. Lawrence Seaway and Boldt Castle!

Enjoy the slide show!


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About fpdorchak

Speculative and paranormal fiction author. Please check out my website: Thank you for stopping by!
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18 Responses to Ausable Chasm – Upstate New York Vacation 2014 – Part 2 of 4

  1. karen lin says:

    You would be a great travel writer! Ever thought about it.. you see all the angles and know instinctively what is interesting to talk about. 🙂 Glad you had fun.

    • fpdorchak says:

      Thank you, Karen! How nice of you to say so, you know, coming from an Ace Travel Writer yourself! :-]

      It was really cool..and it’s always a “trip” (pardon the pun) when I write these things, because I’m not always sure “where” it’s gonna go (like those chainsaw artists carving up a tree trunk—is it gonna be a squirrel or the Millennium Falcon?). This one was kinda obvious from the beginning, however. And there were all these overhanging “pointy stick” trees. It’d be cool to see one or more of them when they actually broke loose, I thought, to watch them whistling through the air and plunge into the roiling waters below! Watch out, Indie!

  2. Wendy Brydge says:

    There are certainly some amazing places to go in the world! Looking forward to seeing Boldt Castle next week though. A little more my taste. 🙂

  3. Frank! I can’t believe you’ve never been there. I remember going there with Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Helen on one visit (too many years ago to count).

    Thanks for bringing back fond memories of all those places, they still cross my mind from time to time. What I miss most about Upstate NY? The frozen custard stands. 🙂

    • fpdorchak says:

      You’re welcome, Deborah!

      Yeah, funny, huh? I asked my dad and he said, nope, never been there, and once there, it never seemed familiar! But am so glad we finally went! Those places continue to cross my mind, too. They’re were so cool, and being an “imaginative one,” like any writer, how can you NOT like those places?! So sad how some have disappeared…I loved Land of Makebelieve! Remember “falling in ranks” with at least one of my brothers at Frontier Town, for a march down it’s main street with a whole bunch of kids for some event….

      Thanks for stopping by! :-]

      • Those places were summer trip staples. Easy day trips not too far for us. Frontier Town I don’t remember so much, but I definitely remember Land of Make Believe. Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole sticks in my mind too. I think Rick and I were on the verge of being a little too old for it when G&G took us there. I think that was the last time we went to any of the old parks.

        The best times weren’t just in the parks. I liked visiting your house on the lake. Every time I catch the scent of railroad tracks or smell a pipe I think of it.

        • fpdorchak says:

          How sweet of you to say, cousin! Thanks! :-] Yes, we had some good times!

          We just drove by the place when we were up there, but it was a quick drive through this time, having gotten a late start with other items on our itinerary…but the 1880s house is still there, even with much of the same “style” to the house our dad put to it, including the red paint and white trim (we helped paint that house, btw, I loved crawling around on the roofs and all!)—even the Two-Man Crosscut Log Saw he put up on the front! The boathouse is still there (also btw, I had a weird dream about Lake Clear partially drying up the other day!)…and yes, the RR tracks. I used to play down there all the time (on the tracks and at the boathouse). Wow, the memories!

          • Wow! I didn’t know the house was that old! That’s so cool. Good to hear it’s still standing. One of these days I’ll get back there too. I still have some friends in the area (hey, Glens Falls is close enough to call it “in the area”). You’re welcome for the trip down memory lane. I’d like to keep in touch more often. Family connections become more precious as the years go by.

          • fpdorchak says:

            Oh, it was the COOLEST house! All the old antiques you see ANYWHERE? They were all at our house, the barn, the property. And we actually used much of them, like pee-vees, any of the tools, kitchen and housewares. Every time I go into some antique store it yanks me back and I actually recognize most of what’s there!

            Do keep in touch, this was fun! :-]

          • I bet the American Pickers would have a field day there!

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