Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center is closed through June 30 as part of Penn State’s efforts to maintain public health and safety in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Many public programs and school visits are also canceled, rescheduled, or reconfigured for virtual delivery. For questions, please contact us at ShaversCreek@psu.edu. For the latest updates and information, visit: virusinfo.psu.edu.

Site 4: Dark Cliffy Spot

Site 4 of the Long-term Ecological Reflections Project (LTERP) at Shaver’s Creek is affectionately named the “dark cliffy spot,” and is situated along the Woods Route trail, downstream of the Lake Perez dam and a few hundred feet upstream along an unnamed tributary of Shaver’s Creek. It’s found among a grove of Eastern hemlocks, near a tall section of exposed bedrock along the stream.

For the next 100 years, writers, artists, musicians, children, students, and community members are invited to reflect on this and the seven other locations designated as part of the LTERP. This collection of reflections will provide an interesting and unique record over the next century so that future generations can better learn the story of this place.

Please enjoy these excerpts from several contributors to the project, and follow the links to read their full Creek Journals.

David Taylor (2013)

Read David’s full Creek Journal 

Scott Weidensaul, Author (2006)

I am fish-watching, from a kingfisher’s-eye view six feet above the stream — not that there’s much of a stream, after almost two months of hard drought. The stream is silent, its trickle audible only when I crouch beside the water, a thin, sibilant gasp. Although it’s only August, the black birches are calling it quits, dropping their prematurely yellow leaves, which lie along the water line below dull, crackly moss.

Beneath the rock wall, the pool has shrunk to a clear prison barely six feet wide and at most a foot deep, stretching along the curved rock face for ten or fifteen yards. But it is still and crystalline, and with my binoculars I can see all of the inmates perfectly.

Read Scott’s full Creek Journal

David Gessner, Author (2012)

Stitler assessed this place he had found himself in, with one greedy glance. The moss wall seemed to sweat and blocked out what little light there was. He licked at his wound like some sort of deranged cat and then nodded to himself as if he had come to some fine hotel for the night, a place that would meet all his needs. (from “The Dark, Cliffy Place, A Fiction Fragment in Imitation of Cormac McCarthy”)

Read David’s full Creek Journal

Ian Marshall, Author/LTERP Founder (2006)

The stream is low now, but still flowing, gently, over smooth, mossed-over boulder slabs upstream. Lots of small trout in the pool there, then tumbled scree, then another pool, and more small fish, all this enclosed on both sides of the stream by the vertical rock slabs that make me think of this as the “mini-canyon” site. But this canyon is only about twenty feet deep, though above the rock slabs the hillside is steep.

Read Ian’s full Creek Journal

Katie Myers (2007)

Both in New Jersey and in Pennsylvania, my favorite place to be in the woods is a hemlock stand. Since the shade-tolerant leaves go all the way down the tree, hemlock seems to be a much more personal tree than pines with their needles high up in the canopy. Even in the dead of winter, a hemlock stand is a riot of green, especially if rhododendron bushes with their evergreen leaves are there as well. It is a welcome change from a wood that can seem lifeless and frozen. Hemlock stands are a welcoming oasis for the winter-weary traveler.

Read Katie’s full Creek Journal

Todd Davis (2008)

Falling Snow

Under the oak the imprint of wings, angel white,
or what the vole might call demon, dark tips

of feathers, lines curved like the sun, and two trenches
dug in the midst of these fallen shadows, cast of talons

dragging life from beneath the floor, subnivean
home to the least among us, simple evidence of what

the living do: a bit of wood, leaves to insulate,
hole stocked with acorns and dried berries, a circle

where sleep laid its head, no telling when death
might arrive, descent quiet as falling snow.

Read Todd’s full Creek Journal

For more information

For more information on the Long-term Ecological Reflections Project, or to learn how to contribute material, please email Doug Wentzel at djw105@psu.edu.